Comic legend Don Rickles has passed away at the age of 90.
Born in the Jackson Heights section of Queens in New York, Rickles was the only child of an insurance salesman and housewife.
After he graduated from high school in the 1940s he did a two-year stint in the Navy before following in his father’s footsteps as an insurance agent.
That career didn’t take off and Rickles enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
He tried his hand at performing comedy in nightclubs in between acting gigs and it was there he found his true calling by taking on hecklers.
Rickles was doing just that in the 1950s when Frank Sinatra and his entourage happened upon his performance in Miami Beach.
Sinatra took such a strong liking to the comic that Rickles became an honorary member of the Rat Pack and the singer helped open doors for Rickles and his caustic wit.
Los Angeles led to some TV and movie roles, but it was in Las Vegas, the Rat Pack’s home base, where Rickles perfected his craft of curmudgeonly humor with sharply timed insults.
In 1965 an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson gave him his national breakthrough and he quickly became a regular guest.
I can’t add too much other than I have always been a fan. He was a genius and kept working and making people laugh up until the end.
In February Rickles told Closer Weekly he had no plans to retire despite his advanced age.
He said he was still operating with the same spontaneous humor he always had.
“I don’t practice or write stuff down — everything I do onstage was just made up before I went on,” he said. “You can’t please everyone, but I’ve been fortunate in that my fans are in my corner.”
Check him out with his pal Johnny Carson back in 1978.
Various hockey pucks paid tribute on social media.
Nobody could insult like you, Don Rickles… not even Statler and Waldorf. So long, old pal! #RIP
— Fozzie Bear (@FozzieBear) April 6, 2017
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) April 6, 2017
Don Rickles has passed away.
A giant loss.
— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) April 6, 2017
Damn! RIP #DONRICKLES
— Living Colour (@LivingColour) April 6, 2017
— Triumph® ᴛʜᴇ ɪɴsᴜʟᴛ ᴄᴏᴍɪᴄ ᴅᴏɢ™ Headquarters💩 (@TriumphICDHQ) April 6, 2017
— Bill Sheerin (@AssignGuy) April 6, 2017
Rest in peace, Mr. Rickles.