Master Insult Comic Don Rickles Dies At Age 90
American stand-up comedian Don Rickles has died at his home in Los Angeles of kidney failure aged 90, the performer’s publicist Paul Shefrin has announced.
Rickles – renowned for quick-fire insults that lead to the sarcastic nickname ‘Mr. Warmth’ – was known in the UK for starring in Casino and voicing Mr Potato Head in the Toy Story films.
The legendary comic first came to America’s attention after insulting Frank Sinatra during a stand-up act in 1957, telling the singer midway through a performance in a Hollywood club: “Make yourself at home Frank. Hit somebody”.
Following Sinatra’s roaring approval, ‘the Merchant of Venom’ began an all-out assault on Hollywood, leading to various high-profile shows, culminating in Ronald Reagan’s second Inaugural Ball.
Rickles’ reputation for celebrity mocking skills grew while appearing on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts series that ran between the mid-1970s and mid-80s. Targets that appeared on the show included Sinatra, Reagan, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Kirk Douglas, Sammy Davis Jr. and Mr. T.
When initially performing stand-up, Rickles found his impromptu insults won more applause than scripted material, so decided to work them into the shows.
Rickles is survived by his wife of 52 years, Barbara, as well as their daughter, Mindy Mann, and two grandchildren.