Comedy is an art. Everyone does not have the capability to master it and get people giggling. Another branch of comedy uses humorous insult by verbal aggression. The art of an insult is to degrade and make people laugh. The comedic art, the truth and degree of insult strengthens and emphasizes the presence of grace. This is a unique form of art all comedians cannot develop and achieve mastery at. One such insult comedian who received widespread exposure and was invited on numerous variety and talk shows was Don Rickles. He was famous as an insult comic. His versatility and style earned him roles in films and on T.V. He died on the 6th of April 2017, on a Thursday due to kidney failure at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 90.
Don Rickles made his way to the big screen and TV, but he was considered as a mainstream comedian who was an electrifying live performer. His role as an insult comedian cemented his position from a comedian to an actor. He was one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all times who started his career from nightclub performances. He was gifted with the ability to spread laughter, by making fun of the audience’s status, looks, gender, height, and weight.
He was born on the 8th day of May in the year 1926. He served in the U.S Navy during World War 2 and was discharged in 1946. Intending to be an actor two years later he joined the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and got small roles on TV he was not very pleased with. The fruitless efforts diverted his focus to night club performances. He progressively collected fame and ultimately became a household name. He made numerous performances on live TV shows like “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson generating huge laughs from the audiences. He was a shining humorist and a King in the comedy world. The witty performer found success later in his life when he exercised his skills as an actor. He acquired prominent roles in films like Run Silent, Run Deep in 1958, Kelly’s Heroes in 1970 and a famous sitcom C.P.O Sharkey that aired on NBC for two years beginning in the year 1976 where he played a protagonist with other famous supporting characters.
He frequently popped up on late night shows including famous ones, namely “The Tonight Show” hosted by Johnny Carson, the “Late Show” with David Letterman and “The Dean Martin Show”. Don Rickles voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story franchise. It became the second most successful animated film after “The Lion King “. It was widely and highly acclaimed by the critics that considered it to be one of the best-animated movies ever made.
Don was immensely praised for his wit, amusing and caustic remarks that made people laugh before they could speak. The master of insult comic; received samples of spontaneous laughter, with mockery.
In an interview, he claimed that Frank Sinatra and Johnny Carson were two very important people in his life. They were responsible for all the fame he got and he always looked upon them as he was very close to both of them. He was nicknamed Mr. Personality, Mr. Warmth and “Merchant of Venom” for throwing jabs and making fun of people. “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project” was a documentary film that won two Emmy awards. The legendary comic was extensively praised and admired for his kindness. Despite being called “Merchant of Venom” for his onstage insults, he was a very kind, sensitive and a caring human being deep inside. Don was a devoted family man and a very loyal friend in real life.
When Don departed the world his long time friends Bob and his wife Ginny said “We are devastated and our world will never be the same. We were totally unprepared for this.”
Don Rickles was married to Barbara Sklar, later known as Barbara Rickles, who also worked in the entertainment industry. Barbara worked for Don Rickle’s agent; she served his office as a secretary for 31 years. Don fell in love with her after a few meetings when Barbara confessed she did not understand his sense of humor and his witty insults. They got married on 14th March 1965. He was 38 when he got married because he did not have an easy time romantically during his early years. They had two children together and grandchildren too.
Throughout his life, Don was best friends with Bob Newhart, also a stand-up comedian. Both their wives also became very good friends because the best friends, extended their friendly ties to their wives too that strengthened the relationship further. They spent hours together cracking jokes and narrating tales. Both the couples were very close and often went on holidays together traveling all over the world.
In an interview with Larry King, Don revealed the secret of having a long marriage. In his typical witty style, he said that “a hooker” was the secret to his long-lasting marriage. He further elaborated that the thing that kept them together for 52 years was the friendship and being able to talk about anything with her. In another interview, he honored Barbara as being a level-headed and a gracious woman. He described her as his “rock” and praised her for saving his life once on film sets.