Don Rickles dies at 90

The Emmy Award-winning comedian suffered kidney failure.

April 06, 2017, 2:11 PM

— -- Comedian Don Rickles died Thursday morning as a result of kidney failure, his publicist confirmed to ABC News.

The rep added that Rickles was at home in Los Angeles at the time of his death.

He would have turned 91 on May 8.

After serving two years in the Navy during World War II, Rickles set out to be an actor but transitioned to stand-up comedy. His put-downs of hecklers — he commonly called them "hockey pucks" — soon became his signature, introducing the idea of what came to be known as the insult comic.

Rickles burst onto the national stage after he began appearing on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" in 1965. He was a frequent guest, and it was Carson who dubbed Rickles "Mr. Warmth," a nickname that stuck with him for the rest of his career.

Rickles also appeared in movies and on other TV shows. He starred as a Navy chief petty officer in the 1970s sitcom "CPO Sharkey," and on film played opposite Clint Eastwood in the dark 1970 war comedy "Kelly's Heroes" and with Robert De Niro in the 1995 drama "Casino," directed by Martin Scorsese.

A younger generation knows Rickles as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the hit animated "Toy Story" movie franchise.

Rickles published two best-selling memoirs in 2007 and 2008 and continued to perform stand-up until just before his death. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000, and in 2008, he won an Emmy for the TV documentary "Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project."

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Barbara Rickles, as well as their daughter, Mindy Mann, and two grandchildren. His publicist said that the funeral will be private and requested that donations in Don Rickles' memory be made to the Larry Rickles Endowment Fund at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

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