1. Donald Jay “Don” Rickles is an American stand-up comedian, voice actor, and actor.
2. Best known as an insult comic, he is also an actor, playing both comedic and dramatic roles on film.
3. He received widespread exposure as a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Show with David Letterman.
4. Rickles was born on May 8, 1926 His family was Jewish and spoke Yiddish at home.
5. Rickles grew up in the Jackson Heights area. After graduating from Newtown High School, Rickles enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II on the motor torpedo boat tender USS Cyrene as a seaman first class.
6. Two years later, he studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and then played bit parts on television.
7. Frustrated by a lack of acting work, Rickles began doing stand-up comedy, performing in clubs in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles.
8. He became known as an insult comedian by responding to his hecklers.
9. The audience enjoyed these insults more than his prepared material, and he incorporated them into his act.
10. When he began his career in the early 1950s he started calling ill-mannered members of the audience “hockey puck
11. When he is introduced to an audience or on a television talk show, Spanish matador music, “La Virgen de la Macarena,” will usually be played, subtly foreshadowing that someone is about to be metaphorically gored.
12. Rickles has said, “I always pictured myself facing the audience as the matador.” In 1958, Rickles made his film debut in a serious part in Run Silent, Run Deep with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster.
13. Throughout the 1960s, he appeared frequently on television in sitcoms and dramatic series.
14. In an episode of the 1960s drama series Run for Your Life, Rickles played a distressed comedian whose act culminates when he strangles a patron while imploring the patron to “Laugh!”
15. Rickles took a dramatic turn in the low budget Roger Corman film X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes as a carnival barker out to exploit the title character .
16. Rickles subsequently began appearing more frequently on television talk shows, first appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1965.
17. An early Carson-Rickles Tonight highlight occurred in 1968 when, while two Japanese women treated Carson to a bath and massage by foot, Rickles walked onto the set.
18. At one point, he decided to play massage therapist to the prone and towel-clad Carson.