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Rickles, Don - Interview
Written by Diana Saenger   

Legendary comedian Don Rickles

don-rickles-_headshot_220.jpgAsk who is one of today's funniest men and Don Rickles will most assuredly be at the top of the list. For more than 35 years he has appeared in top showrooms in Atlantic City, Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas--where often headlines. He has starred in live stage productions and along the way has had two best-selling comedy albums and his own TV series, The Don Rickles Show (1968).

Rickles makes regular TV and motion picture (Casino, Dirty Work, Run Silent, Run Deep, Innocent Blood) appearances and provides his voice in animated films such as Toy Story, Toy Story II, Quest For Camelot."

In a phone interview Rickles said comedy was something that came easy and early in his life. "I was the kid that got up in front of aunts and uncles and told a story, had the lead in the synagogue plays, and was president of drama society in high school. I liked being funny."

Rickles was born in New York City on May 8, 1926. He attended Newton High School in Elmhurst, Long Island. His father Max was in the clothing and insurance business, and his mother was a housewife. "We weren't rich, but my parents were very well known because they had such wonderful personalities. People loved to be in their company," Rickles said. "I got my strong personality from them."

In 1957 Rickles had a chance meeting with Frank Sinatra, threw out one of his zingers, and soon became the "in" comic among the big name Hollywood stars and launched a successful career, partly built on insults. "If I were to insult people and mean it, that wouldn't be funny." Rickles has said. "There is a difference between an actual insult and just having fun."

Among all his accolades, Rickles still has one moment that he cherishes most.

He was invited by President Reagan to perform at the televised Inaugural Gala, where he "zinged" the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State and other dignitaries gathered for the occasion. "I was there with other great talents such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin," said Rickles. "It was a highlight of my career.

When not working, Rickles likes to play golf and travel with his wife of 35 years, Barbara. "I don't like traveling for work. That's tedious," he said. "But we take a lot of trips for fun with our friends the Newharts."

The Rickles have two children - a son, Lawrence, who is a TV comedy writer, and a daughter Mindy, who is a stay at home mother to the Rickles' grandson. Thinking about the legacy he might pass on to his children and grandchildren, Rickles said he's told them, "Whatever you do to gain success, you have to hang in there and hope good things happen. And always think positive."

don_rickles_toy_story_-260.jpgThe Rickles' grandson is a real joy, admits the comedian, and he is already watching Grandpa in Toy Story. "I don't make him laugh, though. He makes us laugh."

Interview (2000)

 



                       

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