Don Rickles (1926-2017)

The legendary comedian Don Rickles passed away on April 6, 2017.  Labeled “Mr. Warmth” by Johnny Carson and considered the king of insult comedy, Rickles also acted on film, notably as a submariner in Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a nasty dancehall impresario in The Rat Race (1960), and one of Clint Eastwood’s ragtag band of G.I.s intent on stealing Nazi gold in Kelly’s Heroes (1970).  Little known or remembered is Rickles’ appearance on ABC’s The Joey Bishop Show in February, 1968.  The very popular and Academy Award-winning actress Susan Hayward, then on screen in Valley of the Dolls, was the prime guest.  Hayward hardly ever appeared on TV but agreed to come on in exchange for Bishop allowing her friend Jack Frost to play the organ.  Rickles was already ensconced on stage when she arrived.  Contrary to expectations that he would continue his penchant for needling and persecuting every celebrity and audience he encountered, Rickles was agog and complimented Hayward effusively.  He told her, “And I say this, like with great respect.  It is a great treat to see you, Miss Hayward.  And I say Susan if I may.  From the days of the Slate Brothers [nightclub] this woman came to see me when I really needed a fan.  And it is a delight to see you on the screen and may I say from the bottom of my heart, you are one of our greatest actresses and I adore you.”

By Kim


Holston, Kim.  Susan Hayward:  Her Films and Life.  Jefferson, NC:  McFarland & Co., 2002.

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