King of the insult Don Rickles dies aged 90

The comedian and actor known for his witty insults passed away in Los Angeles.

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King of the insult Don Rickles dies aged 90

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American comic Don Rickles, the king of the insult, has died aged 90.

He died as a result of kidney failure at his home in Los Angeles, his publicist said.

His long career in comedy and acting spanned from the golden era of Hollywood through to the 21st century.

The ridicule and sarcasm that propelled Rickles to fame earned him the tongue-in-cheek name Mr Warmth.

TV 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.”

The New York-born Rickles had a rapid-fire delivery and cheeky grin that delighted audiences, Hollywood royalty and politicians alike.

Rickles once said of himself: “I’m the guy that makes fun of the boss at the Christmas party on Friday night and on Monday still has a job.”

Singer Frank Sinatra called the short, bald comedian ‘Bullethead‘ while actor Milton Berled dubbed him ‘The Merchant of Venom’.

Encountering Sinatra for the first time during a stand-up act in 1957, Rickles greeted the star with the line: “Make yourself at home, Frank – hit somebody.”

Once asked what advice he would give to up-and-coming comics, he quipped: “Get a gun and protection. You’ve got to be nuts to try to do what I do”

A lifelong Democrat, Rickles performed as part of Ronald Reagan’s second presidential inauguration.

Rickles graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where his classmates included screen stars Jason Robards, Grace Kelly and Anne Bancroft.

Rickles is survived by his wife of 52 years, Barbara, as well as their daughter, Mindy Mann and two grandchildren. 

He would have celebrate his 91st birthday next month.

He starred in a string of films in the 50s and 60s before moving in to comedy, regularly appearing on Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts before enjoying his own TV series CPO Sharkey.

After taking a step back from the limelight to enjoy family life, Rickles later made a big comeback in the hit animation film Toy Story as the grumpy Mr Potato Head alongside Tom Hanks.

Hanks tweeted: “A God died today. Don Rickles, we did not want to ever lose you. Never. Hanx.”