Don Rickles (born May 8, 1926) is an American comedian and actor.
He was born in New York City to a Jewish family, and spent most of his early career doing stand-up comedy, becoming known primarily as an "insult comedian". It is said that this characteristic developed when he replied to the audience's heckles by insulting the heckler back. The audience liked these insults more than his prepared material, so he developed that part of his act. There is a story that while working in a Los Angeles nightclub early in his career, he spotted Frank Sinatra, and called out "Make yourself at home, Frank: hit somebody!"
Rickles served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Cyrene as a S1/c until 1946, when he was honorably discharged. Two years later he studied drama, and played occasional bit parts on television alongside his work in nightclubs. In 1958 he made his film debut in Run Silent, Run Deep, and went on to appear in a number of other films.
As his career progressed, he made more and more appearances on television talk shows, making his first appearance on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show in 1965. He would go on to make an estimated over 100 appearances on The Tonight Show throughout the rest of its run during Carson's era. From the 1970s, he made several appearances on Dean Martin's show. Frank Sinatra provided a big career boost, allowing Rickles to poke fun of his hairpiece, his voice, and his alleged underworld connections.
In 1968, he came out with the comedy album Hello, Dummy!, which consisted of edited-together live performances of his Las Vegas act.
From 1976-1978 he starred in the Navy-themed sitcom C.P.O. Sharkey as an abrasive Chief Petty Officer. During production of the series, Rickles appeared on The Tonight Show with guest host Bob Newhart. While poking fun at Newhart, in faux-anger, Rickles slammed the cigarette box which Johnny Carson kept on his desk and broke it. When Carson discovered this during a broadcast, he took a camera crew to the studio next door where Sharkey was being taped, and disrupted taping in order to tease Rickles about it. Rickles, known for his quick comebacks, was left speechless and could only laugh heartily. This incident was often replayed in Tonight Show retrospectives and was considered a highlight of the 1970s era of the show.
More recently, he made a return to film, appearing in Martin Scorsese's film Casino, and voicing Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story and Toy Story 2.
Rickles has for many years also been known as "Mr. Warmth" (a satirical self-reference to his insult comedy schtick). Often when he is introduced to an audience or on a television talk show, Spanish matador music will be played (subtlely foreshadowing that somebody is going to be metaphorically gored).