The King of Insults has passed away at 90 at his Los Angeles home surrounded by family and close friends. Rickles was an equal opportunity offender, no one was off limits in his mind. For over 50 years, Rickels was famous for insulting everyone from the President to the little old lady who was in his audience. He insulted people on national TV, in movies and in his many stand up routines. He would famously poke fun at people in his audiences, by pointing out a man saying “is that your wife”, when the man replied ‘yes’ he would say “Keep your chin up.” He insulated people, while leaving everyone laughing, he once said “If they leave laughing I did my job.”
His classic insults were directed at various ethnic groups, his own Jewish faith was included in the mix. He would say Italians are necessary to keep the cops busy, blacks are needed to keep cotton in the drug stores, etc. There have been varying stories of how Rickles broke into mainstream Hollywood, but the one most enduring is that of the Sinatra story. He was performing in Miami when Sinatra and his entourage took seats in his audience. Rickeles said “Frank have a seat make yourself comfortable and hit someone.” Sinatra thought Rickles was outrageously funny and invited him to perform at his shows in Las Vegas.
Rickles married Barbara Sklar in 1965 and remained married to her for 52 years, she was by his side when he passed away. They had 2 children Mindy Rickles and Larry Rickels who was a screenwriter and died of pneumonia in 2011 at the age of 41. Rickles was very close to fellow comic Bob Newhart, the two vacationed together with their wives for more than 40 years. Newhart said today, “He was the kindest, caring and most sensitive of human beings.”