Will the Real Don Rickles Please Stand Up!


Photo: Gary Dunaier

Don Rickles died on April 6th from complications of diabetes. He was the best friend of comedian Bob Newhart since 1970. According to Newhart, the men’s wives became friends and attended Rickle’s Las Vegas performance at 3 A.M. after dinner, Newhart with his wife Ginnie were seated in the front row when “The Merchant of Venom” walked out of stage and said: “A stammering idiot from Chicago is in the audience tonight with his hooker wife from Bayonee, New Jersey.” The couple soon discovered amid others who walked out in disgust that it was a badge of honor to be insulted by Rickles. While the Rickles’ were neighbors of The Newharts, they also shared the same values of family. But the King of Insults, dubbed “Mr. Warmth by the late Johnny Carson was in reality a gentleman. When he was recently asked what was on his “bucket list”, he replied: “At this stage of my life, nothing really. I had hoped to be more involved in film, which I didn’t get to do because I became successful in nightclubs. That’s just where my career took me.” Newhart said that he had not seen Don for a month, as Rickles struggled with spinal stenosis and diabetes requiring home dialysis. “I was a pallbearer. I don’t think it really hit me until I saw the coffin and realized Don was inside there. The rest of the time was spent, not so oddly, laughing. I knew him for 40 years and I was still amazed by him.” Newhart added, “I hope Don knew how many people loved him. He was a teddy bear.”


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