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Remembering The Legendary Don Rickles

Last updated: April 14, 2017 at 12:29 pm. Posted by in Caesars Entertainment, Caesars Palace, Celebrities. 2 Comments on Remembering The Legendary Don Rickles.

Planet Hollywood marquee for Don Rickles

On Thursday, April 13, Las Vegas honored legendary entertainer Don Rickles with photo display. Mr. Warmth is seen here glowing brightly on the marquee of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. (PRNewsfoto/LVCVA)

Legendary comedian Don Rickles has hurled his last insult. The comic, known ironically as “Mr. Warmth,” was famous for his sardonic wit and insult comedy. He passed away April 6, 2017 at the age of 90 at his home in Los Angeles. He may have been nicknamed the “Merchant of Venom” for his comedic barbs, but Rickles was loved by many, recognized as the master of his craft and earned the respect of fans as well as critics.

Throughout his 70+ year career, Rickles made his impact on the Las Vegas Strip and was a frequent performer ever since his Sin City debut in 1959 at The Sahara. It is believed he performed in Las Vegas every single year since then, a streak The Rat Pack couldn’t even rival. During his time in Las Vegas, he frequently graced the stages of The Sands, Sahara, Stardust, Riviera and Caesars Palace.

Las Vegas performers and media express sorrow at the loss of a Vegas legend.

In 2006, Caesars Palace honored Rickles for his contributions to comedy and Las Vegas entertainment. Rickles performed at Caesars Palace during The Comedy Festival that year and was presented with The Laurel Award in front of the iconic hotel and casino. Actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg unveiled the bronze plaque during the award ceremony.

Rickles was a staple of the late night talk show circuit since the Johnny Carson days. His appearances on Carson’s show helped propel him into fame which led to numerous Las Vegas performances. It didn’t hurt that Frank Sinatra became one of his biggest supporters.

In his episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” with Jerry Seinfeld, Rickles reminisced about the times he and Frank Sinatra would stay up all night after a show then head out to Lake Mead to go water skiing in the morning. In his earlier Vegas days, Rickles used to perform late night lounge shows until the wee hours of the morning.

He was no “dummy,” even if it was his signature line. Over and over again, he proved his staying power in showrooms up and down the Strip and across the country. Rickles’ constant touring kept him relevant, as did his voiceover work in films like the “Toy Story” series. The younger generations may have never heard of The Merchant of Venom or Mr. Warmth, but they would recognize the voice of Mr. Potato Head from “Toy Story.”

He also had a sizeable role in Martin Scorsese’s 1995 film, “Casino,” in which he played casino manager Billy Sherbert alongside Robert De Niro’s Sam “Ace” Rothstein. It was fitting that a man who made such an impact on Vegas entertainment through his decades of performances in lounges and showrooms across the Strip would have a role in one of the iconic movies about Las Vegas.

The Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas will honor Rickles on April 6 with a special tribute on the Viva Vision canopy once every hour after the regularly scheduled Viva Vision shows. The special tribute will be displayed at approximately 8:10 p.m., 9:10 p.m., 10:10 p.m., 11:10 p.m. and 12:10 a.m. Rickles would probably tell his mourners to quit being so sappy and give him a proper roast instead.

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About The Author

Allison came to Las Vegas over a decade ago and fell in love with the city and all its dining and entertainment options. A live music junkie and tequila enthusiast, she has written for Las Vegas Weekly, Las Vegas Sun, Vegas Magazine and Conde Nast's VegasChatter.

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2 Responses

  1. So sad we have lost another incredible performer!! He was special love the videos on You Tube they are incredible. He will be definitely missed.
    Great performer.

  2. Allison Duck

    Thank you for reading, Bobbi. We too are so saddened at the loss of this legendary comedian. He was truly a one-of-a-kind performer. I remember writing a review of one of his shows and I was afraid he was going to find me and hurl an insult if he didn’t like the review! Luckily he was hilarious, even if some of his material seemed very old. Hey, it’s it not broke… We’ll miss you, Mr. Warmth.

    I’m not sure if you’re in Las Vegas or not to see this first hand but we heard the Strip casinos plan to dim the lights in his honor Thursday night, like they did when Sinatra passed. I’ll be updating this story with more information on that once I confirm the details.