Insult comic Don Rickles passes away at age 90

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Legendary insult comic Don Rickles died Thursday from kidney failure at the age of 90.

Fellow comedians describe Rickles as a comic's comic, who's remembered for being the exact opposite of politically correct.

"If you're a comedian, he's one of the Gods of comedy for what he did," said comedian Chris Franjola.

Rickles was known as the world's greatest insult comic. He made people laugh for more than half a century.

"The great thing about Rickles was he was able to insult you, but there was always a warmth there. You never felt he was truly attacking you. It was almost an honor to be insulted by him," Franjola said. "When I knew him, he was just famous for being on The Tonight Show so much."

In the 1960s, Johnny Carson gave Rickles his big break. Rickles quickly became a regular guest, using his explosive remarks to make a name for himself.

"He was the first guy to kind of do that roast comedy," Franjola said.

Rickles' type of comedy was one people didn't forget. Including Franjola, who, years later, met Rickles at a house party where Franjola performed.

"I never really get nervous doing stand up, but I was completely freaked out because he was sitting within feet of me and, for comedians, he's as big as it gets," Franjola said.

Despite Rickles' status and onstage smack talk, Franjola said he was as kind as they came.

"His persona onstage is just, you know, the rough and the insult comic, but off stage he was really a real sweet comic's comic, they call it," he said.

Rickles was a comic who didn't quit. He performed his signature skits right up until the day he died.

"When you live to be 90 and have that great of a career, to work right up to the end, I think you should celebrate the life rather than the death," Franjola said.

Rickles is survived by his wife of 52 years, a daughter, son, and two grandchildren.

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