Don Rickles roasted only the best of the best — and he did it with love, sharp wit, and little to no restraint.
Rickles’ style of bringing people together by poking fun at the differences between them was something that influenced countless artists and comedians after him. His passing at age 90 yesterday shook the entertainment world — everyone knows there will never be another Rickles.
“A God died today. Don Rickles, we did not want to ever lose you. Never. Hanx,” tweeted Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks after the death of the roastmaster.
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted, "90 years with Don Rickles weren't enough. One of the sweetest and most lovely people I had the pleasure of knowing. We miss you already."
These sentiments and more were displayed by seemingly countless others as they mourned the loss of one of the industry's greatest comedians. Rickles provided endless laughs and never backed down, even when rubbing shoulders with the celebrities who would have made others stutter.
In honor of this legacy, LifeZette takes a look at five of the biggest stars Rickles ever targeted with his humor:
Clint Eastwood. At a tribute to the great filmmaker at the 2000 Kennedy Center Honors, Rickles got the chance to roast his "Kelly's Heroes" co-star.
"Why do I make fun of you, Clint? Because you have no personality," teased Rickles. It wasn't the first time he'd targeted Eastwood with comedy, either. At a 1986 televised All-Star party tribute to Eastwood, Rickles let "Dirty Harry" have it.
"You've been great for my career," said Rickles at a giggling Eastwood. "Since ‘Kelly's Heroes,' I haven't worked!"
Johnny Carson. Rickles was a highlight of Johnny Carson's era on "The Tonight Show." He was a frequent guest who always brought the funny — and was never afraid to poke fun at his host.
During his first appearance on the program in 1965, he said to Carson, "Where does it say you butt in, dummy? I'm fed up with you already, you know that?" He kept the jokes rolling as Carson laughed hysterically, saying, "That's it, laugh it up. You're making $50 million a year, and your poor parents are back in Nebraska eating locusts for dinner."
The two shared plenty more laughs throughout the years. It was always a pleasure to watch the two of them at work.
Frank Sinatra. Not even the great Sinatra was immune to the comic punches of Rickles. The best roasting of Sinatra came to light from a story the singer told on "The Tonight Show" while Rickles sat next to him.
Sinatra recalled a time when he had once walked up to Rickles while the comedian was having lunch with a lady friend. Sinatra, a friends of Don's and at the height of his fame at the time, was ribbed by Rickles when the roastmaster responded to Sinatra's intrusion with, "Can't you see I'm eating, Frank?"
The worst part? Rickles had previously come up to Sinatra and asked him to stop by the table to impress his lady friend.
Rickles also ribbed Sinatra at a televised roast of the famed singer, and at a club in 1957 he joked, "Make yourself at home, Frank. Hit somebody."
Larry King. During a 1985 appearance on "Larry King Live," Rickles told to the famous television host, "Well, I just wanted to say to you, Larry, as a favor, please don't call me anymore. I think this was an absolute waste. This will not change my life one bit. I personally feel your show is not going to make it much longer, really. You're an annoying guy sitting there in your little funny little sweater every night, leaning over, pressing, you're like a beaver, you're trying to snarl and get information. Larry, go back to Miami and do what you do best — suck up a swamp. Don't bother people, Larry."
King's show would last another 25 years, but that's what made the Rickles comedy so special — he only made fun of what he truly loved.
Ronald Reagan. Rickles roasted Reagan plenty of times, and the roasting certainly didn't stop when Reagan was in the White House.
"Remember when you were governor and you used to walk over to my table? Now you're big and you're getting on my nerves," Rickles joked at the president's second inauguration.
It didn't stop there. Turning to the audience near the president, Rickles said, "Did you see some of his movies? Stiffs."
Last Modified: April 7, 2017, 12:06 pm