Bob Newhart and Don Rickles were friends for more than 50 years

Bob Newhart And Don Rickles: Inside Their 50-Year Friendship

Bob Newhart is mourning the loss of his dearest friend. Newhart released a statement following the death of his best friend, comedy legend Don Rickles. The famed comedian died at age 90 of kidney failure on April 6. Newhart and Rickles had been friends for more than 50 years.

“He was called ‘The Merchant of Venom,’ but in truth, he was one of the kindest, caring and most sensitive human beings we have ever known,” Bob Newhart and his wife, Ginnie Newhart, said in a joint statement to People magazine. “We are devastated and our world will never be the same. We were totally unprepared for this.”

“We are devastated and our world will never be the same. We were totally unprepared for this.”

[Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.]

Newhart’s friendship with the man known as an “Equal Opportunity Offender” dates back decades when they were introduced by their wives, Ginnie and Barbara, who were best friends. Barbara Rickles invited the Newharts to catch her husband’s act at the Sahara, and a lifelong friendship was born.

In a 2012 interview with Variety, the mild-mannered Newhart talked about his long friendship with the in-your-face comic who was seemingly his polar opposite.

“Uh, Don and I are best friends, which shows how hard it is for me to make friends,” Bob once joked.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Newhart said. “When we travel, we don’t perform. We just enjoy ourselves. He’s nothing like his act. But when he’s on, I say, ‘How does he get away with that?'”

While they were admittedly “apples and oranges” (“I’m a Jew, he’s a Catholic. He’s low-key, I’m a yeller,” Rickles said), they shared similar values about marriage and kids.

“We’ve traveled all over the world together with our wives, and in all that time we’ve never had a serious argument,” Don said of Bob in 2012. “So many things happen, there’s so much sadness. But we can laugh together.”

In an interview with City & Shore magazine, Bob Newhart’s wife said the couple’s friendship with the Rickles kept them grounded.

“We did try to lead a pretty normal life – whatever that is…. I think it’s who you pick as friends,” Ginnie Newhart said.

“As you probably know, we are very close with the Rickles. Barbara and I knew each other before we even met our husbands. Believe it or not, Bob and Don are very much alike. They work differently onstage, but offstage they’re a little bit alike. One is Catholic, one’s Jewish… but they have the same kind of values, and we did things with our kids. We didn’t move with the fast group. I’m sure we were considered a little bit – especially in the ’80s – a little bit on the square side.”

The foursome hung out together personally, even regularly going on vacations together, and sometimes the guys worked together professionally. Newhart once said his favorite vacation spot was a trip to Venice — but maybe it wasn’t necessarily with Rickles.

“We vacation a lot with Don and after that, Ginnie and I take a vacation so we can enjoy ourselves,” Newhart once joked.

On the comedy front, the duo were late-night staples, and in a rare sitcom appearance, Don even turned up on an episode of Bob’s 1980s TV show, Newhart. And of course, the two men weren’t above roasting one another.

In addition to Bob Newhart, many other stars considered the late comedian a close friend. Many stars paid tribute to Don Rickles, including Tom Hanks, who described the late comedian as a “god,” and Bob Saget, who called him “dad.”

Farewell to a comedic legend & dear friend, Don Rickles. I know you're cracking them up in the Great Beyond!

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Take a look at the video below to see Bob Newhart talking about his friendship with his best friend.

[Featured Image by NBC/Getty Images]