Stars remember Don Rickles, ‘Mr. Warmth,’ with mirth

Even though he was known for harshness, comedian Don Rickles is being remembered with love (and jokes) by celebrities of all colors.

Following reports of his death of kidney failure on Thursday at 90, here’s what some folks said on social media:

Patton Oswalt: In lieu of flowers, Don Rickles’ family has requested that people drop their pants and fire a rocket.

Craig Ferguson: Aw jeez. Rickles. Sweetest, funniest, legend and mensch. Came to a party at my house gave me a dollar and told me to get a nicer place,

LeVar Burton: Proud to have been heckled by him from the stage many times!

Jim Carrey: Don once begged me for a couple of bucks then told me to twist myself into a pretzel. Ego slayer! Comic Everest! Spank you, Mr Rickles

Barbra Streisand: Being skewered by Don Rickles was side-splitting funny. A gentle soul with rapid fire wit.

Rickles, who appeared on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” more than 100 times, also starred in John Landis’ Emmy Award-winning documentary about himself (“Mr. Warmth”) and voiced Mr. Potato Head in “Toy Story.”

In a 1985 interview with Larry King, he said his career started “out of lack of having an act” after one time onstage when nobody responded after he told bad jokes and did a Sophie Tucker impersonation. But when he looked down and said, “Sir, I’m getting fed up with you, either you watch or I’m going to suck your neck,” people started to laugh. “Now I’m a very big star,” he told King, “and I came on this show as a mercy favor.”

Insult comedy was a label he disdained. (“I never used the word insult,” he told King. “It’s exaggeration and an attitude.”)

Rolling Stone compiled a few of Rickles’ best jabs:

To Robin Williams (upon seeing his forearms): “I’ve never met an ape.”

To Johnny Carson: “This is a good jacket… come in with cotton candy tomorrow night, and you can work the carnival.”

On “The Daily Show,” recounting the first time he met Frank Sinatra (who became a favorite target): “I said, ‘Stand up, Frank, be yourself … and hit somebody.’”

The New York Daily News reports that AARP will proceed to air “Dinner with Don,” a new TV show and the first from its new in-house production studio.

The 10-episode series feature stars joining Rickles for food and conversation at his favorite Los Angeles-area restaurants, with companions including Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Jimmy Kimmel, Amy Poehler, Vince Vaughn, Paul Rudd, Marisa Tomei and Martin Scorsese.

OATES’ SERIOUS MUSIC

Rock ‘n’ roll’s John Oates was in San Francisco Thursday promoting his excellent memoir “Change of Seasons” at two events: a private afternoon talk at the offices of Scribd (the digital library and document sharing company), where he played a groovy duet of “Maneater” with CEO Trip Adler on saxophone, and in the evening at Swedish American Hall, where he and co-author Chris Epting shared stories from the book and Oates took questions from the audience.

Oates, whose current passion is American pop music from the earliest days it was recorded, pulled out his guitar and played songs made famous by Emmett Miller and Mississippi John Hurt.

He also did “Southeast City Window” from 1972’s “Whole Oats,” his first album with Daryl Hall, and a tune he hasn’t played live in 40 years. The rock star was kind enough to work it up at the request of a longtime fan (and San Francisco Examiner editor who asked about it in an interview the week before).

Thanks, John. See you on tour at SAP Center on July 25!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Actor Russell Crowe is 53. … Actor Jackie Chan is 63. … Singer Janis Ian is 66. … Singer-guitarist John Oates is 69. … Director Francis Ford Coppola is 78. … Gov. Jerry Brown is 79.

— Staff, wire reports

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