Hours after learning of Rickles’ death, Kimmel, 49, could barely keep it together as he dedicated his opening monologue to the legendary comedian.
“We lost someone that we and I love very much today … Don Rickles passed away this morning. He was 90 years old. And I know it sounds crazy to say that he was too young – but he was because he was youthful — he was so funny and sharp and generous and I was fortunate enough to — not only have Don on this show as my guest – but also to become close to him and his wife Barbara – which was a lot of fun for me,” Kimmel began his monologue.
The Oscars host also shared his favorite memories with Rickles, whom Kimmel idolized since his childhood days.
“I grew up in Las Vegas – so Don Rickles – even when I was a kid – was a very big deal. His name was on the marquee at the Sahara. Then you’d see him with Johnny Carson. Making fun of Johnny – making fun of [Frank] Sinatra,” Kimmel continued, remembering Rickles as “very sweet,” “thoughtful” and “humble.”
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“Sitting behind a desk while Don Rickles made fun of me. It was like being a real talk show host for a minute,” he said, later adding, “He was a funny guy, I know that’s not a news flash.”
Concluding: “I was lucky to know him – My love and condolences to Don’s wife Barbara, his daughter Mindy – his stepdaughters – Bob Saget and John Stamos His main man Tony O – Paul Shefrin – There will never be another Don Rickles. He was probably the greatest talk show guest of all time. We put together this video – to pay tribute – and here he is, the one, the only – Mr Warmth. Don Rickles.”
On Thursday evening, late-night hosts Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers also saluted Rickles.