Legendary comedian Don Rickles passed away Thursday morning at the age of 90 at his home in Los Angeles, California. Rickles passed away from kidney failure just 2 days shy of his 91st birthday.
Rickles was born in New York City in 1926 and served his nation in the Navy during WWII. He first found fame when he was noticed by “Rat Pack” leader Frank Sinatra during one of comedy shows. Not long after, Rickles was tapped to be the main comic used by the Rat Pack entertainers. He became a nationwide sensation when he began appearing on the popular late-night shows like “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and “the Late Show” with David Letterman. He earned the nickname “Mr. Warmth” through his acerbic brand of comedy that many called “insult comedy” and would likely get him run out of town today. Despite the fact that Rickles likely couldn’t perform his brand of comedy in today’s America, many of today’s comedians cite him as a key inspiration for their career today.
Rickles’ comedy would likely be branded as racist, homophobic, or bigoted today but Rickles would argue that what he was trying to do was point out the absurdity of bigotry and hatred. “I think the reason that (my act) caught on and gave me a wonderful career is that I was never mean-spirited. Not that you had to like it, but you had to be under a rock somewhere not to get it,” Rickles once said. Interestingly, even though Rickles was the forerunner to “insult comedy,” not many comics have ever been as beloved.
My friend, my dad, the funniest biggest hearted of them all. A beautiful husband and father. My heart is broken. Rest In Peace. Don Rickles.
— bob saget (@bobsaget) April 6, 2017
He never was Politically Correct and he never apologized for it. R.I.P. Don Rickles @DonRickles
— Gilbert Gottfried (@RealGilbert) April 6, 2017
Don Rickles has passed away.
A giant loss.
— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) April 6, 2017
90 years with Don Rickles weren't enough. One of the sweetest and most lovely people I had the pleasure of knowing. We miss you already
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) April 6, 2017
RIP Don Rickles. Legend.
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) April 6, 2017
RIP Don Rickles, 90.
One of the funniest men who ever lived. pic.twitter.com/8RvD1hGj2R
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 6, 2017
Don Rickles was simply the best. He created insult comedy &yet every 1 of his targets felt loved and honored. One of a kind.#RIPdonrickles
— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) April 6, 2017
Don Rickles created a style of stand up and owned (!!!) it his entire career of 60+ years. It's unparalleled. No, I mean, NO ONE did that.
— Kevin Pollak (@kevinpollak) April 6, 2017
Don Rickles will be remembered as the comedian who broke the rules back before there were "insult" comics. My condolences to his family. RIP pic.twitter.com/tsYpu0h4Nw
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) April 6, 2017
Don once begged me for a couple of bucks then told me to twist myself into a pretzel. Ego slayer! Comic Everest! Spank you, Mr Rickles. ;^)
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) April 6, 2017
Aw jeez. Rickles .Sweetest, funniest, legend and mensch. Came to a party at my house gave me a dollar and told me to get a nicer place.#RIP
— Craig Ferguson (@CraigyFerg) April 6, 2017
— Kevin Nealon (@kevin_nealon) April 6, 2017