Don Rickles

The Merchant of Venom. The Master of Insults. Mr. Warmth. These were just a few of the labels given to actor and comedian Don Rickles, who in the course of a decades-long career on stage, film and television came to define the tone and persona of the insult comic. But despite his withering barrage of put-downs, Rickles remained a favorite of celebrities and audiences alike, thanks to both an unflaggingly quick wit and a genuine affection for his targets. Those qualities where always on display in one form or another, but never so hilariously than when he was a regular fixture on the celebrity roast circuit in the 1960s and 1970s. Meanwhile, Rickles went from the comic stage to film with roles in "The Rat Race" (1960) and "Muscle Beach Party" (1964), and later had a co-starring turn as a hustling supply sergeant in "Kelly's Heroes" (1970). While largely absent from the big screen over the next two decades in order to focus on television, which included numerous appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (NBC, 1962-1992), Rickles made something of a comeback with a high profile role in "Casino" (1995) while voicing Mr. Potato Head in the "Toy Story" franchise. In the next century, he remained active in stand-up comedy and was the subject of the documentary "Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project" (HBO, 2007), which went behind the scenes to reveal Rickles as an engaging personality who was indeed filled with warmth, humor and humanity. That love for the comic, from fans and peers (such as lifelong best friend Bob Newhart) alike, came through when news broke of his death at the age of 90 on April 6, 2017.