Comedian Don Rickles Dies At Age 90

Variety reports:

Abrasive comic Don Rickles, the honorary Rat Pack member and celebrity roast guest whose career spanned six decades, has died. He was 90. Rickles died Thursday morning at his home in Los Angeles from kidney failure, his longtime publicist Paul Shefrin confirmed. He would have turned 91 on May 8.

Though he appeared in films and on television, Rickles’ mainstay was always nightclub performances, appearing in Las Vegas and elsewhere into his late 80s. He also found late success as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the “Toy Story” films, which were exceptional box office performers, and popped up frequently on late night talk shows.

Donald Jay Rickles was born in Manhattan and studied acting at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York after serving in the Navy during WWII. He began appearing in nightclubs during the ’50s but didn’t really break through until his first appearance on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” in 1965.

In the meantime, he worked in movies. After his debut in WWII submarine drama “Run Silent, Run Deep” (1958), he appeared in the Tony Curtis-Debbie Reynolds romantic comedy “The Rat Race” and various AIP beach movies with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.

  • DaddyRay

    The very day Republicans go Nuclear in the Senate – coincidence, i think not

  • Paula

    You hockey puck! RIP Don. ☹️

  • JT

    Don, you made people laugh. RIP.

  • JT


    Bob Dole and Trent Lott: The Senate has changed. It’s time to use the nuclear option.

    Changed? And you had nothing to do with it?

    Calling all shitheads, past and present. The Rethugs have a boatload of them.

  • RIP Don. you were a smart and funny guy who brought laughter to the world. thank you. there’s no one like you out there today, and that says a lot about your legacy as a performer.

  • bkmn

    The end of an era.

  • Todd20036

    This is a shame, but not a tragedy. Thanks for making decades of humor, Don.

  • PickyPecker
  • TheManicMechanic

    And the hockey pucks have won. 🙁

    • Daveed_WOW

      Who picks your clothes? Stevie Wonder?

  • Skokieguy [Larry]

    Don looked just like my grandfather, who was also prone to wearing loud plaid sport coats.

  • Tomcat

    The King of insult. Rest in peace, trump will take over now.

  • Everyone knows Rickles for his stand-up, but he never got the props he deserved for his skill as a dramatic actor (kind of like Kevin Pollak and Sarah Silverman… but there’s still time for them).

  • Walter Maerlyn
    • Joe in PA

      I just checked out his website:

      On the home page he has a lot of great opinions. Now we need about 300 more just like him. 🙁

  • Ninja0980

    RIP Don!

  • JWC

    As Trump and the GOp preliminarys traded barbs and insults it was the gutter variety Don Rickles did insults with a high degree of class He will be missed

  • Daveed_WOW

    He’s a wonderful guy. You talk to him, it’s like being alone.

    • Derrick Johns

      LOL Who would write a line like that? Woody Allen? Great line

      • Daveed_WOW

        Jerry Seinfeld

  • That movie The Rat Race is pretty good and I don’t like Debbie Reynolds or Tony Curtis.

    My brother said Don Rickles and Bob Newhart were best friends. For some reason that makes sense to me.

    R.I.P. Don

    • Butch

      They were. Newhart is quoted at the end of the Washington Post’s obit for Rickles. RIP.

    • Chuck in NYC

      They were! You could tell it especially when they were on talk shows together. The very first thing I thought when I saw this news about 20 minutes ago was that Bob Newhart was having a sad day today.

      I had dinner once with Pudgy with a friend who knew her after seeing her act in Times Square — she was billed frequently as “the Female Don Rickles.” She died some years ago, and that’s as close as I’ll ever have gotten to any degree of separation from Mr. Rickles himself. RIP, Don — and thanks for the laughs from my childhood forward.

  • Cuberly
    • Yalma Cuder-Zicci

      I’m jealous of you and your rep.

      • Cuberly

        Lee is pretty great.

        I’m nervous to ask, who’s yours.

        • Yalma Cuder-Zicci

          Eliot Engel

          • Cuberly


            You have my sympathies. 🙁

          • Yalma Cuder-Zicci

            He may vote correctly, but a bold leader he is not.

  • PickyPecker
  • Derrick Johns

    I guess he was the male Joan Rivers, or was it the other way around.

    • Natty Enquirer

      Rickles was classier and funnier than Rivers.

      • Derrick Johns

        Interesting comment, Natty. I know Gay folks from the 1970s who adored Joan Rivers. I shouldn’t have brought up her name ’cause moment isn’t about her.

  • IamSmartypants

    I was never a fan of his style of insult humor, but he was a good actor and his voice work was outstanding. Very few left from that generation. RIP

    • Gay Fordham Prep Grad

      I agree, the older I get the less I find insults for the sake of insults and foul language worthy of a laugh.

  • ChrisInKansas

    Unlike a lot of older comics, he was still revered by his younger peers and so many got exposure to him through Jimmy Fallon and Kathy Griffin. RIP.

  • MikeBx2

    I would have enjoyed seeing these two legends perform together, but I wouldn’t have wanted to sit on the front row. haha RIP

    • M Jackson

      I miss her all the time.

      • MikeBx2

        Me too.

        • M Jackson

          I am a devoted New York City theater-goer, it’s easy ’cause my boyfriend is a theater critic and I’m his plus-one.
          Joan was far and away the most frequent theater-goer among the famous. Literally, she sat beside or in front of us in the orchestra seats a dozen times a year for the last 8 years.
          Always dressed to the nines and wearing white fur, accompanied by two friends, never alone.
          And she sat on the aisle. People would interrupt her conversations with her friends to ask for a picture with her.
          If you’re famous and don’t want to be noticed at the theater you dress down and get a seat in the middle of the row. Not Joan.
          Her people were everything to her. Know that because you loved her, she loved you back. I saw it.

          • MikeBx2

            Thanks for sharing that. I enjoyed her so much. Early in her career I think she tried to make herself look homely or plain as part of her act. I preferred her all glammed up. I thought she was beautiful.

  • Will Parkinson

    I served him. He was a sweet man.

    • I always like hearing that. He was the kind of guy who made a living venting. Maybe he used it all up on stage. That sounds healthy. I’ve heard stories of him insulting other celebrities (often in very un-PC ways) right to their faces and they just fell over laughing. It was an honor to be worthy of a Rickles insult.

      • Will Parkinson

        I used to have this weird ‘talent’ where I could suction a soda can to my palm so tightly, you’d have to yank to get it off. The night manager went to Rickles’s room with me one night and encouraged me to show him my trick. When I did, he said I should get up on stage with him. I laughed.

  • grada3784

    Rest in Peace, Lyle Delp.

  • Texndoc

    Two old friends two old coots. Some SJWs came for Don recently and Shirley told them where to go. He was really good in Casino, Joe Pesci hit him with a phone.

  • Rex

    Ya know, a decent comic wouldn’t kick-off while the most comedy inducing President is in office. Weak. Sad.
    RIP Don.
    Rickles, that is, Don Rickles – not the other Don, damn it.

  • worstcultever

    Rickles’s memoir, published a while back, is chock-full of great anecdotes – including this account of the best comeback he’d ever heard:

    Walking down the street in NYC – panhandler asks him for spare change. Rickles, giving him a fiver, says, “Go buy yourself a ranch.” At the end of the block, he hears the guy calling “hey! mister!” after him. Turns around and looks back at the guy. “What?”

    “Now I need cattle.”

    • HZ81


  • HZ81

    He was the only comic you’d actually pay to insult you to your face. He didn’t give two shits about offending people because offending people was part of his deal. Funny as fuck and a sweet man offstage.

    RIP, Don—and rip God a new asshole up there.

  • arc99

    I am old enough to remember the old weekly Dean Martin show from the late 1960’s. On one show, Rickles was a guest and the last segment of the hour was Rickles onstage doing a version of his nightclub standup routine for an audience of his Hollywood peers. It was one of the funniest laugh-out-loud performances I have ever seen. He insulted all races, reliigons, beliefs, sizes, shapes colors, etc. equally. True equality means we are all praised and criticized in the same way.

    At the end, he reminded everyone that his barbs were given out of love and understanding that we are all human, and we all have our human frailties. There was never any anger or hostility or mean-spiritedness in his performances. Think of Dennis Miller for the polar opposite of Rickles’ approach to insult humour.

    RIP Mr. Rickles. You were an American original.

  • fuzzybits

    RIP Mr. Rickles.

  • MaryJOGrady

    May he rest in peace.
    I was never crazy about his insult comedian persona, but he was a close friend of Bob Newhart for many years so I figure he must have been a very bright and worthwhile person.

  • boobert

    We saw him in Atlantic City and were concerned he would start on us. He did come out into the audience and picked people at random. You had to laugh, because that was the whole purpose of his act !

  • narutomania

    And another candle from my past goes out. I don’t know anything about Mr Rickles’ personal life, or his politics, or anything. But I do know that the man made me laugh through the 70s and 80s. And then again as Mr Potato Head.

    An act never to be repeated. R.I.P.

  • Oh, man, the Toy Story gang will always be not just a part of my childhood but a lasting part of my psyche forever– it’s wonderful how many legions of people that were made happy by all of them.

    R.I.P. Rickles×338-toystory-characters.jpg

  • stevenj

    Mr Warmth – The Don Rickles Project (2007). A very funny film.

  • Texndoc
  • Rickels was the only person who could repeatedly demean Governor Ronald Reagan at a Hollywood Roast by insulting his intelligence and making fun of his future Presidential ambitions and have everyone rolling on the floor in laughter — including the future President of the United States himself. Reagan is laughing so hard he can’t hold it together. Rickles was one of a kind.