The Hollywood community is in morning once again, with another iconic performer passing away. Don Rickles, the legendary insult comedian and actor, died at the age of 90, in his Los Angeles home. The actor/comedian's publicist, Paul Shefrin, confirmed that his client had succumbed to kidney failure earlier today.
The Hollywood Reporter reveals that the funeral services will be private, and that donations can be made in the late comedian's name to his son's organization, the Larry Rickles Endowment Fund at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Don Rickles was born May 8, 1926 in New York City, raised in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens. He graduated from Newtown High School and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, after which, he returned home and graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
Don Rickles got his start in the entertainment business by performing as a stand-up comedian for several years. While he was generally perceived as a traditional stand-up comic, an encounter with Frank Sinatra during a 1957 show turned his career around. When the comedian noticed that Frank Sinatra was watching his show, Don Rickles told the legendary performer, "Make yourself at home, Frank. Hit somebody." While Sinatra normally did not take kindly to such heckling, he roared with laughter. A year later, the late actor made his feature film debut in the 1958 classic Run Silent, Run Deep, alongside Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster and Jack Warden. In 1959, he also signed on for his first Las Vegas appearance, performing his newly-perfected brand of insult comedy at the Hotel Sahara, which lead to gigs at Vegas mainstays such as the Riviera, the Golden Nugget, the Desert Inn and the Sahara.
He became a regular guest on The Tonight Show, becoming one of Johnny Carson's most frequent guests, and more recently, he would often appear on CBS' Late Show with David Letterman, before the talk show host retired in 2015. His brand of insult comedy found the perfect home with the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts TV specials which aired throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, where he would skewer celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Kirk Douglas, Sammy Davis Jr. and Mr. T. While he never ascended to "leading man" status on the big screen, the beloved comedian appeared in a slew of movies and TV shows while perfecting his comedy routines, such as Rat Race, a number of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello beach movies entitled Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach and Beach Blanket Bingo and Kelly's Heroes.
In 1972, he also starred in his own series The Don Rickles Show, but it only lasted seven episodes, and he also starred as the title character in CPO Sharkey, which ran from 1976 to 1978. He also had a memorable role in Martin Scorsese's 1995 classic Casino, and in the same year, he first voiced the beloved character Mr. Potato Head in Pixar's Toy Story. He would go on to reprise that role in 1999's Toy Story 2, 2010's Toy Story 3 and short films such as Toy Story Midway Mania, Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation, Toy Story Toons: Small Fry, Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex, Toy Story of Terror and Toy Story That Time Forgot. He was currently working on the upcoming theatrical sequel Toy Story 4, which is slated for release in 2019. The actor and comedian is survived by his wife Virginia, his daughter Mindy and his grandchildren Ethan and Harrison. Don Rickles is preceded in death by his son Larry, who produced the Emmy-winning HBO documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, and passed away in 2011 at the age of 41.