Thursday, April 6, 2017

R.I.P. Don Rickles, Comedy Legend

Today, dozens of surviving network censors, and political correctness gurus on hundreds of college campuses heave a tremendous sigh of relief at the news that Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles, impresario of machinegun put downs, has finally shuffled off his mortal coil, as a result of kidney failure. Which means that he died just as full of piss and vinegar as he lived.

Unfortunately for them, he'd already burned PC crapola to the ground, right up to the very end, and remained razor sharp probably up to and including his final words. He regularly guested on late night talk shows with the likes of Carson, Leno, Letterman, Conan, Kimmel, Fallon, and Ferguson, well into his late 80s, and generally took them out at the knees at the slightest provocation, without any appreciable loss of skill from the height of his prime.

The pride of Queens, NYFC, after 2 years in the Navy during WWII, he studied acting and earned his living doing stand-up. His film debut was a part as a crewmember in a small picture about submarines with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster, Run Silent, Run Deep.

Bouncing between movie gigs and stand-up, he caught the eye of Frank Sinatra,
("Mister Sinatra, I love you, and you're a legendary musical you've told me many times. But I just want you to know, from the bottom of my heart,...I never cared for your songs.") and thus began a lifelong friendship, leading to Rickles' eventual status as unofficial Court Jester to the Rat Pack.

As a condition of appearing at President Reagan's Second Inaugural Ball, Sinatra required that Rickles appear as well.
The President acquiesced, Washington DC winced, and Rickles killed it that night.

He stole most of the scenes he appeared in for Kelly's Heroes with Clint Eastwood, voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movie franchise including the upcoming 4th installment, and in between that and still doing comedy tours until very recently, managed to make several dozen TV pilots and one notable hit series, hundreds of TV appearances, 28 film roles, recorded two comedy albums, wrote two biographies, won a primetime Emmy Award, and offended pretty close to every human being on the planet at one time or another - right up until it was clear that he was just kidding, and had a heart just slightly smaller than the ocean. Preceded in death by both his wife of 52 years' marriage, and his son, who produced the Emmy-winning biography of his father, Rickles is survived by a daughter, two grandchildren, dozens of comedic imitators and lesser lights, and about a billion fans worldwide. And courtesy of YouTube and the like, fans yet unborn can find and appreciate his talent in years to come.
His passing isn't a loss. It's a celebration of one helluva ride.

Start the party, boys. Mr. Warmth just walked into the joint.


Anonymous said...

I remember watching CPO Sharkey when I was a kid. My Dad didn't know how he got away with some of the things he said on TV, like telling someone to kiss his goobers.

Mark D

Anonymous said...

I heard two really good interviews with Rickles on the radio today. One from 2007 and one from 2008. He was very humble and grounded, articulate and thoughtful. Talked about his Navy service in WWII in the Pacific, and other entertainment stuff too. I was on Pacifica Radio on one of their magazine shows.

Supposed to be available online.


(yeah, I know, pacifica. Know your enemy, and a lot of time driving today....)

Anonymous said...

Hm, just went thru the on air list for today, and it wasn't Pacifica. One of our other pbs stations I guess.


RandyGC said...

One of my all time favorite Rickles TV moments (literally ROTFLMAO) was the night Carson found out Rickles had broken his cigarette box the night before and charged over to the CPO Sharkey set to confront him. Only time I ever saw the man speechless.