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DON RICKLES (Mr. Potato Head) is one of comedy's most famous funnymen. For over fifty years, he has appeared in top showrooms in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, as well as concert halls throughout the U.S. and the world. Known sarcastically as "Mr. Warmth,” Rickles—the world's most famous insult comic—maintains there's a deep affection and love behind his taunts. "If I were to insult people and mean it,” he once told an interviewer, "that wouldn't be funny.”

Rickles was born in New York City. As a teenager, he performed in high school plays and at neighborhood dances before moving on to small nightclubs. A fine actor who graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, Rickles had frequently received rave reviews for his acting ability. His insult style "just happened” while working clubs in the two years after his discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1946. Never a great joke-teller in the traditional sense, Rickles found himself more comfortable talking directly to the audience and throwing out lines off the cuff.

His career got its first boost in a small Hollywood club in 1957, when the still-unknown Rickles spotted Frank Sinatra in the audience and cracked, "Make yourself at home, Frank. Hit somebody.” Sinatra doubled up laughing, and Rickles was soon an "in” comic amongst the Hollywood glitterati, who lined up to be the subject of his insults.

In 1959, Rickles made his first Las Vegas appearance. He clicked immediately and has headlined there every year since. By the mid- 1960s, he was still unknown nationally, however, and he earned a breakthrough appearance on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show” in October 1965, where his freewheeling performance became the talk of the industry. In 1967, he appeared on "The Dean Martin Show.” His second guest shot on "The Dean Martin Show” was the killer, in which Rickles was put in front of an audience including celebrities such as Danny Thomas, Jackie Cooper, Bob Newhart, Lena Horne, Dean Martin, Ernest Borgnine, Don Adams, Ricardo Montalban and Pat Boone, and he was forced to hurl ad-libbed insults at them for an hour. ("What's Bob Hope doing here? Is the war over?”) For weeks, people all over the country were repeating Rickles' lines, and by year's end, the networks were besieging Rickles with ideas for a TV series of his own.

In addition to his high-profile "zing” work over the years, including audiences with Princess Margaret at Grosvenor House in London for a fundraising gala and an invitation to grill President Reagan at the 1984 Inaugural Gala, Rickles has starred in prime-time series for ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX and hosted or co-hosted seven television specials. In addition to frequent appearances with TV talk show hosts Larry King, Jay Leno, David Letterman and Regis Philbin, he was awarded an Emmy® in 2008 for his performance in the highly acclaimed, John Landis-directed documentary "Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project,” which debuted on HBO in December 2007.

Besides his roles in Disney•Pixar's "Toy Story” and "Toy Story 2,” in the world of movies, Rickles is perhaps best known for portraying casino manager Billy Sherbert in Martin Scorsese's "Casino,” in which he starred opposite Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci. Rickles' early work includes "Run Silent Run Deep,” "Rat Race,” and the cult classic "Kelly's Heroes.” Rickles was recently seen in the TNT television movie "The Wool Cap” with William H. Macy. Additionally, he has starred in live-stage productions, recorded two best-selling comedy albums and written the books "Rickles' Book” (2007) and "Rickles' Letters” (2008) for Simon & Schuster.

Over the course of his career, Rickles has received numerous accolades and awards, including Caesar's Palace's first-ever Laurel Award and the United States Comedy & Arts Festival's 2007 Pinnacle Award acknowledging his body of work. In April 2009, TV Land honored him with the Legend Award.

Rickles and his wife, Barbara, live in the Los Angeles area. They have a daughter, Mindy, a son, Lawrence, and two grandchildren.


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