Barbara Rickles was married to Don Rickles for more than 50 years, and now the comedian’s final tribute to his wife is going viral after his passing.
Don Rickles passed away on Thursday at the age of 90. He reportedly died in his Los Angeles home after suffering kidney failure. He and Barbara Rickles had been married for 52 years when Don passed away, and his last public message ever was a note to his wife, People magazine noted.
“We are celebrating our 52nd Wedding Anniversary March 14th. Happy Anniversary my dear wife, Barbara. You are my life. [heart] XO Pussycat (Me),” he tweeted.
— emermylo (@emermylo) April 6, 2017
Though he made a name through biting comedic insults, Don Rickles only ever had wonderful words for his longtime wife. In a 1996 interview with the New York Times, Rickles said his mother and his wife were two of the most important people in his life.
”[My mother] had such great strength and I was always hiding a little bit. They always use the word ‘insult’ with me, but I don’t hurt anybody,” he said. “I wouldn’t be sitting here if I did. I make fun of everybody and exaggerate all our insecurities. When I started doing it, it was unheard of. But she was always there for me. She was really living through me. I was 28 when my father died and I was an only child. When he died she really took over. That’s why Barbara’s a saint. My wife came into my life and my mother still wanted to be the boss. Barbara was wonderful with her.”
As the Los Angeles Times noted, he had a special kind of charm with women. The obituary noted that Rickles was having drinks with a woman in Las Vegas when Frank Sinatra entered a roped-off area with some other celebrities. When Rickles’ date said she didn’t believe that Don knew Sinatra — they had been friends for some years — Rickles secretly went over to the table to ask if Frank would come over and say hello.
“Ten minutes later, a beaming Sinatra ambled over to Rickles’ table and said’ ‘Don! How the hell are you?’
“Rickles looked at him and in a loud voice said, ‘Not now, Frank! Can’t you see I’m with somebody?’
“As he wrote in Rickles’ Book, his 2007 memoir: ‘Everyone stopped talking. Everyone stared at us. Time stopped. And then, God bless him, Frank fell down laughing.'”
Barbara Rickles was always supportive of her husband’s work, even when it required long hours. Don told the New York Times that she helped him through the difficult shooting schedule for the movie Casino, which included a work day that started at midnight and didn’t end until 2 p.m. on most days.
”It was kind of horrendous,” Rickles says. ”But my wife saved my life. We’re very good friends besides our marriage.”
— Metal Mixtress ® (@Metal_Mixtress) April 6, 2017
While Don Rickles continued working into his 80s and was one of the most recognizable comedians of the last 50 years, his wife was also in the spotlight quite a bit as well. Barbara Rickles was an actress herself, making a number of appearance including the 1971 movie This Is Your Life. Don Rickles actually met his future wife in his agent’s office.
Together, Don and Barbara Rickles raised two children, both of whom entered show business as well. Their daughter Mindy Rickles is an actress and son Larry Rickles an Emmy Award-winning producer. Don and Barbara have two grandchildren.
[Featured Image by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images]