There are few people in Hollywood that get to live big lives and have followings that cross generations and last for decades. Don Rickles led one of those lives.
Born Donald Jay Rickles in 1928, Don was the son of Jewish immigrants living in Queens, New York. After serving in the Navy in World War II, Rickles was discharged in 1946 and began performing stand up comedy. He found that he was getting the audience’s attention and laughs when he would take on hecklers and he started to be known as an insult comic.
In the 50’s he went after singer Frank Sinatra in his act. The singer/actor loved the insults and encouraged other stars to see Rickles. His following grew and it led him to acting roles in the films Run Silent, Run Deep and X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes. He also landed television roles in series like Get Smart and Tales from the Crypt. He made frequent appearances on talk shows including The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. He also became a fixture at the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts.
Rickles more recent and memorable roles were in the film Casino and his role as Mr. Potato Head in all three Pixar Toy Story movies. With a fourth Toy Story movie in production, it is unclear at this time whether Rickles had recorded his lines already for the movie.
Don Rickles died of kidney failure this morning at his home according to his publicist. He was 90 years old.