Bob Newhart, Tom Hanks, Other Stars Remember Don Rickles: ‘A God Died Today’

Bob Newhart Don Rickles

Legendary comedian Don Rickles died on Thursday at the age of 90, and many of those in Hollywood whom he inspired took to Twitter to honor his legacy.

Although he was widely known as an “insult” comic, stars, especially those in the comedy world, refuted that with stories about his kindness.


Don Rickles Dead

Don Rickles’ Life and Career in Photos

In a statement released on Thursday morning, Bob and Ginnie Newhart expressed their shock and condolences regarding Rickles’ death. “He was called ‘The Merchant of Venom,’ but in truth, he was one of the kindest, caring, and most sensitive human beings we have ever known,” the statement reads. “We are devastated and our world will never be the same. We were totally unprepared for this.”

Rose Marie, co-star of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” also released a statement: “One of my dearest friends is gone. What a talent! He was remarkable and one of our favorites to work with on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’ I have known him since he came to California. I will miss him something terrible.”

Dick Van Dyke also paid tribute to the late comic.

“Those were the days, my friend Don. We thought they’d never end. We loved you so,” Van Dyke tweeted.

David Letterman said of the late comic: “Don coming on our show was always a highlight for me. Just endless mischief and nonsense, and a guy who would make the audience go completely crazy. Such a professional, such a gentleman. I already miss him.”

Director Martin Scorsese, whom Rickles worked with in his 1995 crime drama “Casino,” appreciated the fact that he was able to see the “evolution” of Rickles’ comedy.

Don Rickles was a giant, a legend … and I can hear his voice now, skewering me for being so lofty,” Scorsese said. “Experiencing Don, and tuning into his mind, I witnessed the evolution of his comedy. It was like listening to a great jazz musician wail. Nobody else did what he did. He made comedy into an art form. And like all geniuses, comic or otherwise, he’s irreplaceable.”

Comedian David Steinberg, a close friend to Rickles, said, “once in a lifetime a comedian like Don Rickles comes along. And as good a friend as anyone could have. I love you and will miss you Don.”

C. Scot Cru, the executive producer of Rickle’s last project “Dinner With Don,” offered some words about Rickles’ steadfast worth ethic. “Don Rickles was the ultimate entertainer who wanted to keep working until the end, and that’s exactly what he did,” Cru said. “He leaves behind a legacy that spans decades and we were all honored to work along side him.  He will be missed.”

Jeffrey Eagle, vice president of AARP Studios, which launched “Dinner With Don,” paid tribute to Rickles’ kindness and unique sense of humor.

“Don was known for his biting, acerbic humor and we feel lucky enough to have experienced that first-hand.  He was also a thoughtful, kind and generous colleague and friend.”

Robert Klein, who starred alongside Rickles in Marshall Fine’s documentary “Robert Klein Still Can’t Stop His Leg,” also noted Rickles’ kind side, something often overshadowed by his strong humor and wit.

“Don Rickles was a brilliant improvisational comedian as well as an excellent actor,” Klein said. “What many people do not realize is that for someone so widely known as an insult comedian, Don Rickles was also, genuinely, a very kind man.”

Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, who was a friend to Rickles, said that his extensive comedic career just wasn’t long enough.

“90 years with Don Rickles weren’t enough,” he tweeted. “One of the sweetest and most lovely people I had the pleasure of knowing. We miss you already.”

Kimmel later tweeted out a photo of the two, with a playful John Stamos in the background.

Tom Hanks called Rickles a “god,” and expressed a collective grief for his loss.

“A god died today. Don Rickles, we did not want to ever lose you. Never,” he wrote.

“Star Trek” actor George Takei thanked Rickles for his comedic contributions that spanned decades.

“Don Rickles, you kept us laughing for so many years,” he wrote. “We will miss you dearly. Thanks for the zingers. You were one of a kind.”

Legendary filmmaker Mel Brooks paid tribute to his “dear pal”:

“Don Rickles. One of the bravest, funniest, and sweetest guys that ever performed,” he wrote. “A dear pal that we will all sorely miss.”

David Arquette said death won’t stop Rickles from doing what he does best.

“We’re all in a better place now that Don Rickles has gone,” Arquette said. “I wonder if he’ll stop touring. Thanks for the laughs pal. You were the greatest.”

Stand-up comedian Kevin Nealon shared a light-hearted anecdote about the late actor.

“As I was standing nearby, Don Rickles once whispered in my wife’s ear, ‘What are you doing with a loser like him?’ I was honored,” he wrote.

Barbra Streisand called him “a gentle soul with rapid fire wit.”

Broadcaster Al Roker recalled a recent interview with Rickles, posting a photo of the two and remembering his noble character.

“The Merchant of Venom, legendary comedian Don Rickles passed away at 90,” he tweeted. “I just interviewed him. The sweetest guy, great hubby and dad.”

The “Late Late Show” host James Corden voiced his gratitude for any time he was able to spend close to Rickles.

“Don Rickles was one the absolute greats,” Corden wrote. “I feel lucky for the times I was ever in his orbit, my thoughts are with his family today x.”

Comedian Dane Cook shared an Instagram photo of Rickles, captioned with a lengthy tribute to the actor honoring his career and reminiscing on watching him as a kid on “The Tonight Show.”

Actor and comedian Piers Morgan posted a photo alongside a short, but telling tribute to Rickles.

“RIP Don Rickles, 90,” Morgan wrote. “One of the funniest men who ever lived.”

Late-night host Conan O’Brien shared his appreciation for having both the privilege to interview and be insulted by Rickles.

“I was thrilled to interview/be insulted non-stop by the legendary Don Rickles,” O’Brien tweeted. “I will sorely miss this incredibly funny and lovable man.”

Comedian Chris Rock shared a photo of the two of them posing in a bed together, and called him “the love” of his life.

“He was the love of my life,” Rock said. “Don Rickles is funnier right now in death than most comics are in life.”

Judd Apatow shared a video of Rickles’ interview with former talk-show host Dick Cavett in 1972, letting his legacy speak for itself in the clip.

Billy Crystal paid tribute to the star in a brief, yet heartfelt statement.

“Don Rickles has passed away. A giant loss,” he wrote.


Tim Allen cited Rickles as one of the main reasons he decided to become a comic, posting a tribute to Rickles on his WhoSay blog and sharing to Twitter.

“Don Rickles is one of the biggest reasons I am a comic today,” he wrote. “I feel bad, mostly for everyone in Heaven who will now learn first hand from the sharpest wits ever, what its like to be Rickled,” he added.

Ricky Gervais bid a short but sweet farewell to the late comic:

“RIP The Don,” he wrote.

“Full House” star Bob Saget tweeted a photo of the two of them taken by his daughter that, she said, encapsulates how much the late star loved Saget.

“My daughter took this photo and just texted me, ‘Look how much he loved you.’ I can almost hear Don saying, ‘Take it easy, I tolerated you,'” he wrote.

Comedian Artie Lange equated Rickles’ death with the death of comedy:

“Comedy has been sick for yrs,” he wrote. “Today it passed away. Most of u know it as Don Rickles. Get some rest Don. Love, Baby Gorilla.”

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 10

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. FA Nathaniel Miller, USN Ret. says:

    Thanks for the laughter and keeping us all in stitches Mister Rickles. Take it easy and give those hockey pucks heck in heaven. :-) You will be missed greatly and making us all laugh until it hurts.

  2. Mike Roberts says:

    They post the tweets, then repeat what they said in quotations…WTF? We can read tweets, thanks…

  3. James Krisvoy says:

    From the age of 16 on I became a fan of Don Rickles. Whenever in Vegas..when he was appearing in the Casbah theatre at the Sahara, I would stand on the sidelines in the casino & take in his act until the security guards would ssk me to leave because I was underage. That went on for years..and it was great when I turned 21 & was able to see his act legally. I hung out there & knew Bobby never had a problem being seated right at the center of the bar. In fact, saw his last new years eve show there just before I was drafted. Never had the opportnity to work on a show with him..except one later on..but what a privelge to get to enjoy his humor. Its a loss..but know he is a truly great comic legend & his comic legacy will live on.

  4. Ann in Los Angeles says:

    Go somewhere quiet. Totally quiet. And then listen or all that laughter from above. Nice.

  5. footwork61 says:

    “Bob Saget tweeted a photo of he and Rickles …” Really? Nobody reads over these things before posting?

  6. noel says:

    “We always heard you coming in.
    We knew you longed to stay
    And we knew when you were leaving
    When the laughter died away”……Rest In Peace Don Rickles, you made the world laugh, what a gift.

  7. Alex says:

    Does George Takei ever stop tweeting? He’s got something to say about EVERYTHING! RIP Don, tell Johnny I said hey.

  8. Inspector clouseau says:

    One of the last of a dying breed is gone.A comic genius and all around nice man. May all the politically correct losers eat turds.

  9. Renae Alm says:

    Very sad news.RIP Don

More TV News from Variety