Jewish insult comedian Don Rickles passed away on Thursday due to kidney failure, just a month before his 91st birthday, his representative said in a statement.
Born Donald Jay Rickles in Queens, New York, the comedian grew up in a Jewish household in the Jackson Heights section of the borough. His father Max immigrated in 1903 to the United States with his own parents from Kaunas, Lithuania. His mother Etta (Feldman) was born in New York, to immigrant parents from the Austrian Empire. Both parents spoke Yiddish at home.
Rickles enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II on a motor torpedo boat as a seaman first class until his honorable discharge in 1946. Two years later he enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and began receiving bit parts on television, eventually moving to stand-up comedy routines in New York clubs, and then clubs in Miami and Los Angeles. His response to hecklers led him to develop his niche as an insult comedian by the early 1950s.
In 1965 at age 38 he married his wife, Barbara Sklar of Philadelphia, and the two went on to have two children, Mindy and Larry Rickles, the latter having passed away in 2011. A lifelong Democrat, Rickles performed in the inaugurations of Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, together with his friend Frank Sinatra.
Baruch Dayan HoEmes.