The world lost a lot of laughs last month when legendary comic Don Rickles passed away. Rickles earned a living by slinging insults at celebrities, but he also touched a lot of people's hearts with his generosity, warmth and wisdom. So to celebrate what would have been his 91st birthday today, check out these tributes to the life and legacy of Don Rickles.
No, Carson didn't return from the grave to honor Don Rickles. But the official YouTube channel dedicated to the late-night legend did release a 'best of' compilation featuring Don's best bits over his many appearances on 'The Tonight Show', which includes Frank Sinatra recalling how Don once dissed him in public to impress a girl.
"I was eating dinner in a restaurant in New York," Sinatra recalled. "[Don] came over to the table and he said, 'Frank, do me a favor, will ya? I'm sitting with a very pretty girl. And I'm trying to make out, you know. And I told her I know you, and she really doesn't believe me. Would you stop by the table?' I said alright....And I walked by the table, and I said, "How are ya, Don? Nice to see you." And he said, 'Can't you see I'm eating, Frank!?!?'"
The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host offered a tearful monologue dedicated to his mentor and friend before playing a highlight reel of Rickles' best guest appearances on the show - including that time he dipped into the secret mini-bar that Dean Martin kept in his jacket on the night that Rickles and the Rat Pack roasted President Ronald Reagan.
Two of Rickles' most unlikely friends were Full House stars Bob Saget (a.k.a. the "Jewish Clark Kent" according to Don) and John Stamos, whom Rickles teased for dating too many nine-year-olds when he rose to fame in the 80s.
But the sitcom stars quickly became two of the insult comic's best friends - and food smugglers. When Don was diagnosed with diabetes, his wife Barbara forbid him from eating fatty and sugary treats. So he turned Saget and Stamos into snack mules, sneaking him hot dogs and cookies behind Barbara's back.
Sandler ran into Rickles shortly after his post-Saturday Night Live career took off. And Don was impressed - not with the quality of the film but the fact that Sandler got away with making it.
"I was at dinner with Steve Buscemi - this was like 25 years ago or something," Sandler told Kimmel last month. "We were eating at Dan Tana's. And then Rickles came over to us and we were like, 'Oh, my god! This is happening right now.' And he says to Buscemi...something like, 'I saw your movie ['Reservoir Dogs']. Mr. Pink? More like Mr. Stink.' And Buscemi's laughing. And he goes, 'Oooh, maybe get some braces.' Then he sees me...and he goes, 'I saw 'Happy Gilmore'. Watched the whole thing. Amazing how no talent can get you a movie.'"
The late comic is gone, but he's left something to remember him by - the upcoming TV series 'Dinner with Don', featuring Rickles trading jabs over dinner with guests like Sarah Silverman, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis and others over dinner. All 10 episodes were shot before Rickles passed away and should be available once producers find a distributor.
But you can whet your appetite for Don's swan song with this teaser trailer, featuring Don haranguing Amy Poehler.
"I'm gonna be sincere here for a second and say to be able to sit here is really special," the Parks and Rec star said. "I'm really honored to get to talk to you, Don."
"Well, that's very sweet," Rickles said. "When your name came up, I said, 'I don't want her.' And then they said, 'Be nice. She needs it, she needs it."
Banner image: Rickles and Lorne Greene on The Don Rickles Show, 1968 (wikipedia.org)