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Entertainers are lucky enough when they get one lucky break or get a few notable roles in movies, television, etc, But leaving an impact across decades almost consistently is something rare. Stand-up comedian and actor Don Rickles was one of those people, having been active for over 70 years. Sadly, the man best known to many younger fans for his participation in the Toy Story movies has died at the age of 90.
Don Rickles passed away earlier today at his home in Los Angeles from kidney failure, as revealed by his publicist Paul Shefirn (via THR). Rickles is survived by his wife, Barbara Sklar; his surviving daughter, Mindy; his son-in-law, Ed; and his grandchildren, Ethan and Harrison. Rickles also had a son named Larry who died in 2011.
Don Rickles left his primary mark on the entertainment world from his stand-up comedy, and rise to prominence began in the late 1950s when he was noticed by legendary crooner Frank Sinatra (the two of them maintained a friendship for decades afterwards). Rickles' insult comic routines earned him the ironic nickname "Mr. Warmth," and he never hesitated from poking fun at anyone, from celebrities to folks watching him in the audience, no matter what their background. In the 1970s, he frequently appeared on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast specials, and he also made the rounds on the late night talk shows up until his final year of life, most frequently on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, The Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live! The 2007 HBO documentary about him, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, won a Primetime Emmy for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.
If you want a good taste of what Don Rickles' humor was like, check out this surprise appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1976 when Frank Sinatra was being interviewed.
Along with his comedy work, Don Rickles also performed in a variety of movies and television shows, including C.P.O. Sharkey, Get Smart, The Twilight Zone, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Hot in Cleveland, Kelly's Heroes, Innocent Blood, Casino and Zookeeper. Of course, to those of you who grew up in the 1990s or later, you probably are most familiar with him voicing Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies, short films and TV specials. Although Rickles was expected to reprise his role as the sarcastic, detachable toy in Toy Story 4, it's unclear if he completed his work on the movie before his passing.
We here at CinemaBlend send our thoughts and condolences to Don Rickles' friends and family in their time of mourning. If you have a favorite Don Rickles project or moment, feel free to talk about it in the comments section below.