Don Rickles, the legendary comic who turned the insult into an art form, has passed away at the age of 90.
His publicist confirmed the news in a statement issued to the media moments ago.
While longevity eludes most comics due to changing tastes in humor, Rickles remained a stalwart in the standup scene for an astonishing six decades.
Often cited as a top influence by today’s biggest comedians, Rickles made a career out of skewering public figures, fellow entertainers, his own audience, and even himself.
His impact can be seen everywhere from sharp-tongued sitcom characters to the popular Comedy Central Roast series.
Rickles didn’t invent insult comedy, but he may have done more to popularize it than anyone else.
Rickles kicked off his career in New York nightclubs during the 1950s, eventually gaining a huge name for himself as the master of the put-down.
So much so, in fact, that he became a sought-after act to perform for and alongside the biggest names in show business.
In the ’60s, Rickles became a fixture in Las Vegas, and was frequently spotted partying with Frank Sinatra and his famous Rat Pack.
In addition to standup, Rickles became a familiar face to generations of film and television fans.
Though his own attempts at launching a series never panned out, he racked up scores of TV credits over the years.
Rickles was a fixture on the late night talk show circuit from the time of its inception.
He also played guest roles on sitcoms such as Get Smart, Newhart and, in 2011, Hot in Cleveland, and Murphy Brown.
He also showed off his dramatic chops in films such as Martin Scorsese’s Casino, and earned a new generation of fans with his voice work as Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story films.
Social media tributes to Rickles from fans, friends and fellow comics began pouring in within minutes of the announcement of his death.
Many, of course, did so while paying tribute to Rickles’ scathing style in a manner he would have to appreciate if he were here to see it.
“Hey Helen Keller, show’s up here. Gandhi, stop hogging the breadsticks or we’ll let Bob Hope tell jokes again,” Patton Oswalt tweeted.
Others were more serious and straightforward.
“A national treasure is gone. Don Rickles’ talent was limitless. To know him was a gift,” wrote Larry King, and what more can you say?
Rickles is survived by his wife of 52 years, his two children, and two grandchildren. He was one of the greats, and will be missed.