I was rummaging around Darren Hill’s brilliantly curated POP (Emporium of Popular Culture) in Providence a few Saturdays ago, when I found a program for a Summer, 1973 Don Rickles show at the Warwick Musical Theater (closed 1999), a place known locally as “the tent.”
The black and white portrait of Rickles on the cover was surprisingly flattering, more actor than clown. As Darren quipped, “that’s Rickles’ Hollywood shot. Don the actor.”
I had seen it there before, but this time, just had to have it. Of course, once I got home, it was off to Ricklesland. In addition to dozens of clips from The Tonight Show and Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, I was inspired to watch Jon Landis’ affectionate 2007 documentary, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project again, and a bunch of Dinner with Don episodes from late 2017: Zach Galifianakis, Marisa Tomei, Paul Rudd, Snoop Dogg.
Although the 90-year old Rickles never appears to take a bite of food, and format-wise, Dinner with Don is more chat show than performance, these last appearances on camera are remarkable for their candor and warmth.
Lastly, remembering Rickles made it easy to choose the next blog from the PopKrazy archives, a piece I wrote five years before the one-time “Merchant of Venom” passed: Don Rickles: The Methuselah of Stand-Up