Don Rickles, the master insult comic who created laughs with ridicule and sarcasm in a decades-long career that earned him the facetious nickname Mr Warmth, died on Thursday at his Los Angeles home from kidney failure, his publicist said. He was 90.
Rickles, who said he devised his brand of mockery-based humor because he was no good at telling traditional jokes, had developed a bacterial infection in recent months that led him to cancel a number of performances.
His death was confirmed by his spokesman, Paul Shefrin, who said Rickles is survived by his wife of 52 years, Barbara, as well as their daughter, Mindy Mann, and two grandchildren. He would have turned 91 on May 8.
The New York-born Rickles had an intense, often-ad libbed, rapid-fire delivery and a wide, impish grin. He delighted nightclub audiences, Hollywood royalty and politicians by hurling invective at them, all in good fun.
Stars of the entertainment world paid tribute to him on Thursday.
Tom Hanks, who voiced Woody in the Toy Story films with Rickles, Mr Potato Head, tweeted: "A God died today. Don Rickles, we did not want to ever lose you. Never. Hanx."
For more than half a century, the comedian and actor dubbed Mr Warmth headlined casinos and nightclubs across the US and often appeared on late-night TV talk shows.
A God died today. Don Rickles, we did not want to ever lose you. Never. Hanx.— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) 6 April 2017
Tim Allen, who voices Buzz Lightyear the cartoon, said in a statement: "Don Rickles is one of the biggest reasons I am a comic today.
"I feel bad, mostly for everyone in Heaven who will now learn first hand from the sharpest wits ever, what it's like to be Rickled."
Hollywood star Jim Carrey said: "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.)"
Don Rickles. One of the bravest, funniest, and sweetest guys that ever performed. A dear pal that we will all sorely miss.— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) 6 April 2017
Others tweeted about their sadness at the news.
Actor Dick Van Dyke tweeted: "Those were the days, my friend @DonRickles. We thought they'd never end. We loved you so."
Singer Barbra Streisand tweeted: "Being skewered by Don Rickles was side-splitting funny. A gentle soul with rapid fire wit. xoB"
Talk show host James Corden tweeted: "Don Rickles was one of the absolute greats. I feel lucky for the times I was ever in his orbit, my thoughts are with his family today x"
Actor Danny DeVito tweeted: "Awwww man Rickles is dead. Rest In Peace buddy."
Comedian Sandra Bernhard tweeted: "Damn it, we lost a great one #DonRickles fast furious brilliant for decades the definition of genius."
Stand-up comic Chris Rock tweeted: "He was the love of my life . Don Rickles is funnier right now in death than most comics are in life."
Actor Mark Wahlberg tweeted: "#DonRickles was an absolute legend, my favorite comedian, and also my friend. Rest in peace."
Comedian and actor Rob Brydon tweeted: "Terribly saddened to hear that the wonderful Don Rickles has passed away. A truly great comedian, a master of his craft."
Ozzy Osbourne shared a clip of himself and Rickles appearing as guests on a talk show with the caption: "Rest in Peace @DonRickles."
Talk show host Larry King tweeted: "A national treasure is gone. Don Rickles' talent was limitless. To know him was a gift. He kept me laughing during 58-years of friendship."
Farewell to a comedic legend & dear friend, Don Rickles. I know you're cracking them up in the… https://t.co/dFcfoeFcPn— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) 6 April 2017
Actor Samuel L Jackson posted a photo of himself and Rickles to Instagram with the caption: "Farewell to a comedic legend & dear friend, Don Rickles. I know you're cracking them up in the Great Beyond!"
Actor Reece Shearsmith tweeted: "RIP the legendary "Mr Warmth" himself - Don Rickles. Funny man."
Comedian Bob Saget tweeted: "My friend, my dad, the funniest biggest hearted of them all. A beautiful husband and father. My heart is broken. Rest In Peace. Don Rickles."
Star Trek actor George Takei tweeted: "Don Rickles, you kept us laughing for so many years. We will miss you dearly. Thanks for the zingers. You were one of a kind."
Actor Billy Crystal tweeted: "Don Rickles has passed away. A giant loss."
TV host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted: "90 years with Don Rickles weren't enough. One of the sweetest and most lovely people I had the pleasure of knowing. We miss you already."
Rickles' most recent tweet marked his wedding anniversary in March.
He wrote: "We are celebrating our 52nd Wedding Anniversary March 14th. Happy Anniversary my dear wife, Barbara. You are my life. Pussycat (Me)"