Don Rickles, who parlayed the art of the insult into a career as one of the most beloved of the old-school comedians, has died. NBC News reports that Rickles died today of kidney failure at his home in Los Angeles. He was 90.
“Rickles, whose career spanned more than six decades and included scene-stealing roles in films like ‘Casino’ and the ‘Toy Story’ trilogy, was a fixture on the late-night talk show circuit, making frequent appearances on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,'” the story reports. “He mastered a take-no-prisoners style of stand-up comedy — blasting hecklers as ‘hockey pucks,’ most famously — that earned him the nicknames ‘Mr. Warmth’ and ‘The Merchant of Venom.'”
The report adds: “Born in New York City in 1926, Rickles flung himself from a modest upbringing in Queens to the highest reaches of comedy stardom, headlining casinos and nightclubs from Las Vegas to Atlantic City, New Jersey. With the help of his buddy Frank Sinatra, Rickles conquered Vegas in its bada-bing glory days, selling out shows in which no one — not even Ol’ Blue Eyes himself — was spared from Rickles’ lacerating wit.”
Here’s a clip featuring a surprise appearance by Rickles during a Frank Sinatra guest spot on Carson’s “Tonight Show” …