Don Rickles, RIP
Mr. Warmth, the Merchant of Venom, Don Rickles is gone. It would be cliché to say that it’s the passing of an era, and it would be wrong. Rickles belonged to the age of Johnny Carson, the Rat Pack, Celebrity Roasts and classic Las Vegas. He was the survivor from a pre-PC time in America when we could poke fun at stereotypes and our differences and still come away laughing.
There were no safe spaces with Rickles. He was an equal opportunity offender, and the crowds continued to ask for more.
There was no rank or privilege when Rickles was on the stage. We’re in an age when journalists, grown men and women, cringe when a comedian makes fun of a president at a Gridiron Dinner in Washington D.C. Would there be enough fainting couches had this performance been repeated at a Barack Obama Inauguration? Would Donald Trump be able to refrain from Tweeting a response to every insult?
But my favorite Rickles moment was one that occurred away from the cameras. Let Frank Sinatra tell the story:
Considering that in 1957, Sinatra helped launch Rickles’ career, the trick Rickles played on Sinatra was the least he could do. After all, it was an honor to be picked on by Rickles, right?