Don Rickles who was wryly nicknamed “Mr. Warmth” was a renowned American stand-up comedian with a sense of humour that brought a lot of fame from around the globe. Although he had initially wanted to establish himself as an actor, fate would later redirect his steps towards stand-up comedy in the early part of his career pursuits.
Over the years, he has not only made a name as a talented comedian but his Don Rickles’ fast mind and fascinating remarks, coupled with his sensitivity with audiences made him a powerful mix of fun. His comedy style which has been referred to as ‘insult comic’ is what stood him out whenever he’s performing on stage.
His Caustic Comedy Style Made Him Unique
The popular stand-up comedian for decades plied his trade on the basis of what is best described as ”insult comic’‘ which did not only left ribs cracking but unfolded certain truths. Don actually had no off-limits when it comes to his jokes and most of the time, celebrities whom others dared not address would be the objects of his joke.
The particular time Rickles decided to take his own unique path can be traced back to his early years in the entertainment industry. An incident that is still talked about dates as far back as the 1950s when he worked as a stand-up comedian at one of the beach clubs in Miami. It was reported by the Los Angeles Times that on that fateful day, the now-deceased American singer, Frank Sinatra, who usually has a moody facial expression, walked into the club Ron was performing at and he acknowledged his entrance by saying, “Make yourself comfortable, Frank. Hit somebody,”. This did not only make Sinatra crack up but the entire audience and it launched what would later become a very successful career for Don Rickles.
The music superstar became a big fan of Don Rickles and he did not only endeavour to attend his shows but enlisted other celebrities to see the comedian’s performances. The comedian also leveraged on his newfound niche in the decades that followed to win the hearts of many in showrooms in Vegas up until he started to appear on TV and the popular Hollywood roast. He literally touched all aspects of life, making fun of things in an insulting but non-threatening manner as reported by Brian Malow, a certified science comedian.
Rickles Also Did Pretty Well As An Actor
As at the same time he was establishing his comedy career, Don also had the drive to branch into films. He even received professional training from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and initially started his vocation by displaying his craft in night clubs. Having put so much effort at what he does, Don Rickles finally got a role in the motion picture drama, Run Silent Deep.
Subsequently, his role in the drama became his first step to stardom and he became a regular in most mainstream movies in the 70s. In 1976, he created his own television series; CPO Sharkey. The series was one of the most-watched dramas but sadly came to an end just after two years.
Although he concentrated more on his comedy shows in the subsequent years, Don Rickles managed to land other notable roles which include his voice role as Mr. Potato Head in the 1995 animated movie, Toy Story. The movie turned out to be a huge success and paved the way for other roles in productions like Redux Riding Hood, Quest For Camelot Cornwall, Toy Story 2, The J-K Conspiracy, Toy story 3, and Zookeeper amongst others.
The Popular Comedian Is The Son Of Austrian Immigrants
Don Rickles was born on May 8th, 1926, in New York, to his mother, Etta, and father, Max; both were Austrian immigrants. His dad Max made ends meet as an entrepreneur while his mom Etta was a homemaker. There was no mention of his parents having other children which made many believe Don was their only child.
The popular comedian had the best of education, he schooled at Newtown High School and upon completion of his studies there in 1944, he enrolled in the Navy of the United States. While with the Navy, Don Rickles worked as a sailor top of the line in World War 111 however his time with the Navy was short-lived as he was honourably discharged sometime in 1946.
It is speculated that it was his desire to pursue a career in entertainment that led him to opt out of serving in the Navy. More so, in a bid to satisfy his dreams, Don Rickles became a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA).
Don Rickles Met His Wife During His Early Career Days
Don Rickles tied the knot with Barbara Sklar on March 14th, 1965. He came in contact with her through his agent whom she worked for as a secretary. Although they became quite inseparable, things were not always so as it was gathered that Sklar was not thrilled initially with Don’s jokes. However, he was eventually able to win her heart in a short time and over the years, they lived happily as seen in the heartfelt piece he penned on their 52nd anniversary.
We are celebrating our 52nd Wedding Anniversary March 14th. Happy Anniversary my dear wife, Barbara. You are my life. ❤️❌⭕Pussycat
— Don Rickles (@DonRickles) March 12, 2017
Working in the same field also gave them ample time to see each other and Barbara would usually make sure that she spends her lunchtime with Don. She gradually became very supportive of her husband’s career and sometimes played alongside him in some shows. More so, she worked as a producer for works like Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007) and after her husband’s demise, she worked on Don Rickles Live in Concert (2020) and Rickles+Newhart: A Hollywood Love Story (2021)
He Had Two Children With His Wife
The comedian and his wife had two children during his lifetime. Their first child and only daughter, Mindy Rickles was born in June 1966 and she is an actress notable for appearing in several motion picture productions which include Dealin’ with idiots. However, she seems to be following in the strides of her father as she is performing more as a stand-up comedian at clubs situated in the Southern California region. Mindy is also a mother and a wife, she is a spouse to Edward Mann and they have two sons.
Rickles’s family also had a son, Larry Rickles born on May 12th, 1970 in Los Angeles. He was a writer on the CBS hit sitcom, Murphy Brown, as well as an Emmy-award winning producer. Sadly, Larry passed on in December 2011 at the age of 41. He died from respiratory failure which was caused by pneumonia.
Don Rickles Had Amassed A Lot Of Accolades & Wealth Prior To His Demise
There is no doubt that as both a comedian and actor, Don Rickles has left his mark on the entertainment industry. During the 90th Academy Awards, which was held after his demise in March 2018, the film association honoured him in their yearly Memoriam section. More so, the film Toy Story 4 which was released in 2019 still featured his character, Mr. Potato Head in loving memory of the comedian.
In the past, he has also been a recipient of several awards and recognition which include his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000. Don later won his first Primetime Emmy Award in 2008 for his work on Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project which was followed by a Legend Award from TV Land Award in 2009. He has also won awards from The Comedy Awards (2012) and New York Friars Club (2013).
With such an impressive legacy left behind by Don Rickles, it is expected that his hard work must have paid off really well during his lifetime. Although his actual earnings have not been released, it is believed that he had a net worth to the tune of $30 million at the time of his death.
The Comedian Died Of Kidney Failure
Don Rickles died on April 6th, 2017 at his residence in Beverly Hills, California. It was reported that the cause of his death was kidney failure and the comedian who was already advanced in age could not survive the ordeal. He was buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery and his age at the time of death was 90.
The news was a big blow to the entertainment industry as Rickles was still plying his trade as a comedian despite his age. Television hosts like Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, David Letterman, and Jimmy Fallon paid tributes to his outstanding comedic talent.
Other popular figures in Hollywood like Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jim Carey, and Ron Howard among others took to Twitter to pay their respects to the comedian. It is also known that Bob Newhart penned a heart-melting piece about Don being the kindest human being he has ever known.
Filmmaker Mardin Scorsese who served as the director of the 1995 film, Casino also expressed his admiration for Don. He described him as a complete pro on set and that he also had the ability to make him laugh all day while they were working.