He leaves behind his wife of 52 years, Barbara, a daughter and grandchildren.
Barbara Rickles — formerly Barbara Sklar — was born in Philadelphia and worked in the entertainment industry as well.
Here’s what you need to know about her and Don’s relationship:
1. The Couple Recently Celebrated Their AnniversaryBarbara worked as a secretary for Don’s agent for 31 years, which is how they met.
After going out on a few dates, Don said that he fell in love with her when she admitted that she didn’t understand his unique sense of humor, which revolved around insults. They got married a short while later on March 14, 1965.
The two celebrated their 52-year wedding anniversary together just weeks prior to his unexpected death. Rickles’ final tweet was a tribute to Barbara, wishing her a happy anniversary.
Don had previously admitted that he had a tough time romantically in his middle years, which is why he didn’t get married until he was 38.
In an interview with Larry King, Don offered his advice on the “secret” of having a long marriage.
In his typical comedic style, Don jokingly told King that “a hooker” was the secret to his long-lasting marriage. He backtracked on the sarcastic words and said that the thing that kept them together for so long was the friendship and being able to have conversations about virtually whatever with her.
2. Don & Barbara Had 2 Children Together, 1 Died In 2011The Rickles’ had two children together, Larry Rickles and Mindy Mann.
In 2011, Larry, who was an Emmy Award-winning producer, died at the age of 41 due to respiratory failure due to pneumonia.
Larry won an Emmy in 2008 for producing HBO’s Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project. It was a documentary about his father and included various home videos from throughout his career.
Larry had worked on the set of sitcoms earlier in his career and got his big break in 1996, working in a workshop program at Warner Bros. He gained a lot of experience there and was hired as a writer on the CBS show Murphy Brown.
Like her brother and parents, their Rickles’ daughter Mindy has a career in Hollywood as well. She’s acted in a number of TV shows and movies. Mindy made her acting debut as in a minor role on the show Newhart in 1988 and appeared in a slew of shows between 1989-1994.
In 2013, she played the character Shelley in the film Dealin’ with Idiots alongside Jeff Garlin.
Nowadays, Mindy is a stand-up comedian and performs at clubs typically in the southern California region.
She was scheduled to have a show at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood the day her father passed away.
3. Barbara Acted In a Few Movies & On TVWhile Don was the one known for his stand-up comedy and acting, Barbara tested her hand at it as well briefly.
She appeared on the TV show, This Is Your Life in 1972 as herself and then was in her son’s HBO documentary on Don. In addition, both Don and Barbara both appeared on Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List.
Her and Don also appeared TV special George Burns Celebrates 80 Years in Show Business in 1983 where they shared memories of Burns and the impact he had on the entertainment industry.
4. The Couple Were Best Friends With the Newharts & Vacationed TogetherThroughout his professional life, Don and fellow comedian/actor Bob Newhardt were best friends.
It remained that way after both got away from the Hollywood spotlight. Even though the two have very different backgrounds and character, they always appreciated one another and spent countless hours telling jokes and stories.
Don told Variety in a 2012 interview that they are such good friends because they hold many of the same values. Their friendship extended to their wives as well, as the two couples had “traveled over the world.”
We’re apples and oranges. I’m a Jew, he’s a Catholic. He’s low-key, I’m a yeller. But we share the same values, marriage, children and grandchildren. We’ve traveled all over the world together with our wives, and in all that time we’ve never had a serious argument. So many things happen, there’s so much sadness. But we can laugh together.
The comedians would often go back-and-forth roasting each other with jokes and have appeared on TV in various formats together on numerous occasions.
As Newhart celebrated 50 years in the show business, Don described him as a “hamburger with mayonnaise on white bread.”
The Newharts released a statement following the passing of Don, expressing their sympathies.
They said that they are at a complete loss and remain devastated by losing such a talented actor and friend.
5. Barbara Would Switch Her Work Hours to Don’s Just So She Could Eat With Him
The two were forced to be apart from each other a lot of the time when Don was building his comedic acting career. But that didn’t impact the love they had for each other.
Because of the separation, Barbara reportedly “matched her hours to his” and joined him on movie and TV sets for meals, which were served early in the morning.
In an interview in 1996 with The New York Times, Don called his wife very level-headed and gracious, which is unlike him. He often described Barbara as his rock, crediting her for once “saving his life” while filming the 1996 movie Casino.
Barbara is a private person, not what you would think Don Rickles would marry. 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.