Don Rickles’ Rabbi on Late Insult Comic: ‘From the President to Frank Sinatra, He Made Us All Feel Like Equals’
Famed insult comic Don Rickles “did not discriminate” and made everyone feel like an equal target of his jokes, his former rabbi said in an obituary for the Jewish comedian published by TIME magazine on Friday.
Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles said that for Rickles, who died at the age of 90 last week, “everyone was fair game,” whether it be a president or American singer Frank Sinatra, and that his humor was a “great leveler.”
The rabbi added, “To call Don Rickles politically incorrect is intellectually incorrect. He was in a certain way the epitome of political correctness… The only people he would not insult were the vulnerable, those who would be wounded by his words…As Daveed ben Mordecai is laid to rest, the world has not only lost someone who made us laugh; it will have lost someone who saw people the way we aspire to be seen: flawed but resilient, and all, ultimately, the same.”
In the obituary, Rabbi Wolpe also shared that he was the target of many comedic insults by Rickles over the years. The rabbi said he believed that despite his harsh words, Rickles — dubbed “the most famous insulter in the world” — got away with the “jocular savagery because you knew — you really knew — that deep down he was kind and intended no harm. So the cannon blasts — and his sheer relentlessness — came as a shock, and once the laughter started, there was no stopping.”
Rickles is survived by his wife Barbara; their daughter, Mindy Mann; and two grandchildren.