“Mr. Warmth” forged a career when he turned the tables on his hecklers, going on to make fun of everyone he encountered — even Frank Sinatra.
Don Rickles, the rapid-fire insult machine who for six decades earned quite a living making fun of people of all creeds and colors and everyone from poor slobs to Frank Sinatra, has died. He was 90.
The legendary comic died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles of kidney failure, publicist Paul Shefrin announced.
Sarcastically nicknamed “Mr. Warmth,” Rickles had mock disdain for stars, major public figures and all those who paid to see him, tweaking TV audiences and Las Vegas showroom crowds with his acerbic brand of takedown comedy. A good guy and devoted husband away from the stage, Rickles the performer heartlessly laid into everyone he encountered — and they loved it.
After toiling in relative obscurity for years as a more conventional stand-up comedian, Rickles unwittingly discovered his biggest laughs came when he turned the tables on his hecklers. His career then skyrocketed after he insulted the hot-tempered Sinatra, who normally did not take kindly to such treatment.
When the superstar singer and actor walked into a Miami Beach club in 1957 where Rickles was performing, the comedian greeted the “Chairman of the Board” from the stage: “Make yourself at home Frank. Hit somebody.” Sinatra roared — with laughter.
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