Don Rickles has always been known for a special type of humour-laced with exaggerated put-downs and insults. In real life he is very unlike his stage persona. He is a warm, sociable man with a long standing marriage to the love of his life, Barbara. He is considered to be one of the nicest men in his business, as well as a generous one, both with his time and his money. Don and Barbara are long time friends with the Bob Newharts-another couple whose romance has withstood the years.
Don Rickles was born in New York city, and grew into a painfully shy young boy. He learned to combat this by following his father's example of joking and kibbitzing. He took to the stage in high school performances and then began doing stand-up comedy routines in night clubs. His big break came when Frank Sinatra was in his audience one night. Don threw a few barbs his way and worried afterwards if he might have crossed the line, but Sinatra loved it and his support led to a blooming Las Vegas career for Rickles. Another time, when Sinatra was invited to perform for President Reagan's second Inaugural Ball, he insisted Rickles be invited to perform as well.
Barbara Sklar was an actress born in Philadelphia. Don once told an interviewer "I was a bachelor until 38. I was searching for someone with beauty and simplicity. When I finally found her, I married her." They were married in 1965, so they will soon be celebrating fifty years together.
They had two children, Mindy and Lawrence. Sadly their son Larry died in 2011. Now they have grandchildren as well. Rickles said his grandchildren aren't nearly as impressed by his fame as they are by the fact that he voiced Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story movies.
He has received Emmy nominations and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame. The Rickles and the Newharts often vacation together. Wouldn't you love to hear their conversations over drinks?
Barbara seems to be the steadying part of the relationship. Don said “When I married Barbara, I married a Valium. She’s not one to wave to the crowd. She’s gracious and lovely. I’m very shy so I became very outgoing to protect my shyness. She understands that.”
When asked the secret to his long and happy marriage, Rickles said simply,"We have great love for each other and respect each other and enjoy each other's company." It sounds like the perfect recipe to me