Toy Story star and comedy legend Don Rickles dies

Justin Harp
Photo credit: NBC

From Digital Spy

Legendary insult comic Don Rickles has died at the age of 90.

The influencial stand-up and actor passed away at his Los Angeles home today (April 6) from kidney failure, his publicist confirmed to Digital Spy. A funeral will be held in private in the coming days.

Rickles had been one of the last living icons of the early days of American television comedy, and has been cited as an influence on later comedy titans David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern.

The New York-born comedian's quick wit and distinctive bombardment of tongue-in-cheek insults towards members of his audience famously earned him the ironic nickname of Mr. Warmth from legendary Tonight Show host Johnny Carson.

Photo credit: NBC

His sharp tongue let him get away with insulting iconic US figures not normally used to ridicule. Rickles received his big break after mocking Frank Sinatra to his face in a Miami Beach nightclub in the late 1950s.

Sinatra was so delighted by the ribbing that he invited other Hollywood celebrities to be prodded by the comic at his increasingly-popular stand-up shows.

Rickles would become a frequent guest host of The Tonight Show in the Carson era, and also had his own mid-1970s sitcom C.P.O. Sharkey. He'd also continue his tradition of poking fun at celebs as a mainstay of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast TV specials.

When he wasn't lighting the stage in Las Vegas, Rickles starred opposite Clint Eastwood in the 1970 war comedy Kelly's Heroes and later played a fast-talking casino pit boss in director Martin Scorsese's Casino.

Photo credit: Paul Shefrin

It was his snappy insults as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies that introduced Rickles to a younger audience of Disney fans in the 1990s. He'd reprise the character for two made-for-TV specials in recent years and had been expected to return for Toy Story 4.

Leading tributes to the comedy icon on Thursday was US late night host Jimmy Kimmel, who described Rickles as one of the "sweetest and most lovely people [he'd] had the pleasure of knowing".

Jim Carrey joked that Rickles was the ultimate "ego slayer", adding: "Comic Everest! Spank you, Mr Rickles!"

Full House's Bob Saget remembered the comedian as "the funniest biggest hearted of them all", while Billy Crystal described his passing as a "giant loss".

Below, we gather tributes to the late great Don Rickles:

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