Interview with Don Rickles

Arlene Herson's interview with Don Rickles.

Arlene's interview with Don Rickles is in three segments.

 

Part 1

ARLENE:
DON RICKLES, HELLO.
DON RICKLES:
HELLO ARLENE, HOW ARE YOU?
ARLENE:
I AM GOOD HOW ARE YOU TODAY?
DON RICKLES:
I AM PRETTY GOOD, THANK YOU.
ARLENE:
OH I THINK YOU ARE MORE THAN PRETTY GOOD, I THINK YOU ARE TERRIFIC.
DON RICKLES:
THAT IS VERY SWEET, I APPRECIATE IT.
ARLENE:
YOU HAVE BEEN ENTERTAINING US FOR A LONG TIME. I HAVE SEEN YOU IN MOVIES AND ON TELEVISION, IN REAL LIFE….ON THE STAGE, BUT IS IT A FACT THAT FRANK SINATRA DISCOVERED YOU IN A NIGHT CLUB IN HOLLYWOOD?
DON RICKLES:
WELL FRANK SINATRA REALLY DIDN’T DISCOVER ME…LET’S PUT IT THIS WAY, HE BROUGHT ME TO WHAT LITTLE FAME I HAVE HAD . IN THEY BEGINNING HE WAS VERY INFLUENTIAL IN GETTING ME KNOWN AROUND THE COUNTRY. I WAS SORT OF KNOWN IN FLORIDA, BUT WHEN HE SAW ME, THINGS STARTED TO HAPPEN AND I STARTED TO BUILD UP A LITTLE BIT OF A FOLLOWING IN THOSE DAYS….YES, TO MAKE A LONG STORY, LONGER, HE IS PRETTY MUCH THE GUY WHO MADE A LOT OF THINGS HAPPEN.
ARLENE:
FRANK SINATRA SO HELPFUL TO SO MANY PEOPLE THAT I HAVE TALKED TO ON THIS SHOW. WHEN HE WAS IN THE AUDIENCE, YOU INSULTED HIM….DID YOU EVER HAVE ANY KIND OF FEELING OF APPREHENSION OF THINKING ..... HEY.... THAT IS FRANK SINATRA.
DON RICKLES:
NO AND THE WORD IN ITSELF….WHEN YOU SEE DON RICKLES, ARLENE, YOU KNOW WHEN YOU SEE ME, I HAVE BEEN TAGGED WITH THAT WORD, BUT ANYTHING THAT IS INSULTING IS NOT FUNNY SO ITS REALLY NOT INSULTING, IT IS TAKING THINGS AND EXAGGERATING IT ABOUT THE PERSON AND MAKING FUN OF THEM. THE WORD INSULT WAS ALWAYS TAGGED WITH ME, BUT SO BE IT, IT TOOK ME A LONG WAY. BUT I USED TO RIB FRANK AND HE USED TO LOVE IT AND LAUGH AND WHEN HE LAUGHED ALL HIS FRIENDS LAUGHED. THEN IT BECAME A RUNNING THING AND ALL THE PEOPLE ALL JOINED IN. HE WAS MY BIGGEST BOOSTER.
ARLENE:
OK, I DON’T WANT TO INSULT YOU, BY USING THE WORD INSULT BECAUSE I HEAR IN REAL LIFE YOU ARE A REALLY, REALLY NICE GUY.
DON RICKLES:
OH YOU SHOULD ASK MY WIFE ESPECIALLY WHEN I BUY HER SOMETHING.
ARLENE:
OH, AND YOU HAVE BEEN MARRIED 35 YEARS..
DON RICKLES:
THAT IS RIGHT, AND IN MARCH….WE WILL BE DOWN IN FLORIDA. MARCH 14TH IT WILL 35 YEARS RIGHT.
ARLENE:
YOU HAVE AN ANNIVERSARY COMING UP SOON.
DON RICKLES:
YES WE DO.
ARLENE:
OH SO HOW ARE YOU GOING TO CELEBRATE?
DON RICKLES:
WELL JUST THE FAMILY. MY KIDS ARE COMING DOWN TO FLORIDA, AS YOU KNOW I WILL BE WORKING ALL THE DIFFERENT CITIES DOWN THERE WITH REGIS PHILBIN, MY DEAR FRIEND. WE ARE GOING TO JUST GO TO SOME LITTLE RESTAURANT AND HAVE DINNER TOGETHER.
ARLENE:
YOU ARE NOT GOING TO TELL US WHERE, RIGHT? YOU WAITED TILL YOU WERE 38 YEARS OLD TILL YOU GOT MARRIED, SO WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS SPECIAL WOMAN THAT MADE YOU REALIZE THIS IS IT…IT IS TIME NOW?
DON RICKLES:
WELL I IMMEDIATELY KNEW WHEN I MET HER THAT SHE WOULD BE MORE THAN A FRIEND TO ME AND SHE WAS VERY UNDERSTANDING AND SHE WASN’T IMPRESSED WITH ME IN THOSE DAYS, WHEN I WAS RIDING PRETTY HIGH AS A PERFORMER. IT WAS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTED TIMES OF MY LIFE, PLUS I WAS GETTING READY TO WORK THE COPA CABANA AND SHE CAME ALONG AND WAS JUST A DOWN TO EARTH PERSON. WE BECAME VERY CLOSE, SHE CAME TO SEE ME IN VEGAS AND ONE THING LED TO ANOTHER AND WE HAVE BEEN MARRIED 35 YEARS IN MARCH.
ARLENE:
YES WE DO..
DON RICKLES:
YES, WHICH MAKES ME VERY, VERY HAPPY. WE HAVE A GRANDSON NAMED ETHAN CHARLES AND HE IS QUITE A LITTLE KID. FOR ME AT MY STAGE IN LIFE IT IS GREAT FOR ME TO LAY ON THE FLOOR AND GOOGOO, GAGAA.
ARLENE:
OH WE DON ’T EXPECT TO SEE DON RICKLES SAY GOOGOO, GAGAA.
DON RICKLES:
NO, NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE, BUT IF YOU WERE IN MY HOME YOU WOULD SEE ME DO IT.
ARLENE:
GOOD. WE ARE GOING TO SEE YOU ON THE STAGE WITH REGIS PHILBIN. I READ THAT HE WORSHIPS YOU.
DON RICKLES:
WELL I DON ‘T KNOW IF HE WORSHIPS ME, I MEAN HE CAN GO TO HIS CHURCH AND DO THAT, HE DOESN’T NEED ME TO WORSHIP. WE HAVE BEEN VERY GOOD FRIENDS AND A LOT OF YEARS TOGETHER. WE GO WAY BACK. HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A BOOSTER OF MINE AND I OF HIM. SO IT WORKS OUT PRETTY NICE.
ARLENE:
WHO HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST BOOSTER OVER THE YEARS?
DON RICKLES:
WELL I CAN’T SAY WHO MY BIGGEST BOOSTER IS, I HAVE MADE A LOT OF FRIENDS. SHOW WISE, CERTAINLY JOHNNY CARSON, WAS A BIG HELP TO ME AND MY CAREER, I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL TO HIM .I HAVE FRIENDS THAT HAVE ALWAYS BEEN LOYAL TO ME. BUT MAINLY MY WIFE HAS BEEN THE BIG BOOSTER AS FAR AS ENTERTAINERS, I COULDN’T SAY, BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN VERY BLESSED THAT THEY COME TO SEE ME. ASIDE FROM SINATRA AND I SAID JOHNNY CARSON….SO THERE YOU ARE.
ARLENE:
YOU KNOW YOU BECAME AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS AFTER BEING ON THE JOHNNY CARSON SHOW IN THE 1960’S AFTER OF COURSE WORKING HARD FOR 15 YEARS.
DON RICKLES:
THAT IS PRETTY MUCH RIGHT.
ARLENE:
WE HAVE TO GO NOW, BUT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT BECAUSE IT JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT, THERE IS A LOT OF HARD WORK. I HOPE THAT YOU ARE GOING TO TALK TO US AGAIN REAL SOON.
DON RICKLES:
OH WELL IT WOULD BE MY PLEASURE, ARLENE.
ARLENE:
OH OK, THANKS. BYE FOR NOW.
DON RICKLES:
B-BYE. BYE.
 

Part 2

ARLENE:
DON RICKLES, GOOD TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN.
DON RICKLES:
HI ARLENE, NICE TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN.
ARLENE:
LAST TIME WE SPOKE WE TALKED ABOUT HOW YOU BECAME AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS AFTER 15 YEARS OF REALLY, REALLY WORKING HARD AND BEING DISCOVERED…NOT DISCOVERED FOR BUT FOR MANY PEOPLE KNOWING ABOUT YOU BECAUSE OF JOHNNY CARSON ON THE TONIGHT SHOW. HOW DID YOUR LIFE CHANGE AT THAT POINT?
DON RICKLES:
WELL BY CHANGE, WITH JOHNNY CARSON, IT MIGHT BE MORE OPEN TO THE COUNTRY. I WAS WELL KNOWN IN THE EAST AND DOWN IN FLORIDA AND NY, BUT WHEN I GOT ON CARSON, IT SEEMED THE COUNTRY SEEMED TO KNOW ABOUT DON RICKLES, SO I AM FOREVER GRATEFUL TO JOHNNY AND TO ANOTHER GUY, DEAN MARTIN, GOD, REST HIS SOUL TOO. HE WAS SOMETHING SPECIAL TOO, BECAUSE HE PROMOTED ME A GREAT DEAL.
ARLENE:
AND GOOD FRIENDS?
DON RICKLES:
OH YEAH, WELL DEAN WAS WONDERFUL.
ARLENE:
WE MISS HIM AND WE MISS FRANK SINATRA, BUT WE ARE GLAD THAT YOU ARE AROUND.
DON RICKLES:
THANK YOU.
ARLENE:
WE HAVE SEEN YOU IN SO MANY DIFFERENT FORMATS. I SAW YOU IN THE MOVIE, “CASINO.” I KNOW YOU PLAY VEGAS A LOT, BUT YOU WERE REALLY GOOD IN “CASINO.”
DON RICKLES:
WELL THANKS, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU CAN CARRY ROBERT De NIRO . I TOLD HIM THAT EVERY DAY AND WE HAD A LOT OF FUN TOGETHER AND WORKING WITH MARTIN SCORSESE. THAT KIND OF CAST WAS GREAT, AND SHARON STONE, WAS REALLY, REALLY GREAT FUN.
ARLENE:
YES, AND ALAN KING PLAYED A GANGSTER TOO.
DON RICKLES:
HE WAS VERY GOOD IN THAT. VERY GOOD.
ARLENE:
HE WAS ON THE SHOW LAST WEEK AS A MATTER OF FACT…
DON RICKLES:
WAS HE?
ARLENE:
YOU PLAY VEGAS A LOT. I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU EVEN KNEW THE CHARACTER THAT ROBERT DeNIRO BASED HIS CHARACTER ON IN “CASINO.”
DON RICKLES:
YES, I KNEW HIM VERY WELL AS A MATTER OF FACT I DID HIS TELEVISION SHOW. AT THAT TIME HE HAD A TELEVISION SHOW AND I WAS ON IT….SO I KNEW THE GUY PRETTY WELL.
ARLENE:
WE ARE TALKING ABOUT LEFTY ROSENTHAL?
DON RICKLES:
RIGHT.
ARLENE:
SO WHAT WAS IT LIKE HANGING OUT WITH THE GANGSTERS?
DON RICKLES:
WELL, THEY WERE JUST GUYS IN THEIR OWN BUSINESS. THEY KEPT TO THEMSELVES. AS FAR AS BEING WITH FRANK AND DEAN,. SO CALLED FOR A LACK OF ANOTHER WORD….MOB GUYS.... I MEAN THE ONES THAT I KNEW AT THOSE TIMES WERE EXCEPTIONALLY NICE TO SHOW PEOPLE AND WE NEVER HAD ANY PROBLEMS…WHICH IS GREAT.
ARLENE:
DID IT HELP YOU PLAYING A GANGSTER IN “CASINO” KNOWING THEM?
DON RICKLES:
WELL BEING AROUND A LOT OF THEM IN NEW YORK ALL MY LIFE SEEING THEM TIME TO TIME IN NIGHT CLUBS AND ALL I PRETTY MUCH KNEW WHAT THEIR STORIES WERE SO IT MADE LIFE A LOT EASIER IN “CASINO,” SURE.
ARLENE:
YOU CERTAINLY SCARED ME. YOU LOOKED LIKE A REAL MOBSTER, YOU DID SUCH A GOOD JOB. WEREN’T YOU ORIGINALLY TRAINED TO BE AN ACTOR?
DON RICKLES:
YEAH I AM VERY PROUD TO SAY I WENT TO THE ACADEMY OF DRAMATIC ARTS AND GRADUATED FROM THERE WHICH A LOT OF PEOPLE DON T KNOW. IT GAVE ME A GREAT BACKGROUND TO WORK FROM AND I WAS VERY PROUD TO BE PART OF THAT SCHOOL.
ARLENE:
AND YOU HAD SOME VERY FAMOUS CLASSMATES, I UNDERSTAND.
DON RICKLES:
YES, JASON ROBARTS WAS A GOOD FRIEND. ANN BANCROFT, GRACE KELLY, ALL THOSE PEOPLE WERE IN OUR SCHOOL AT THAT TIME, SO WE HAD A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO REALLY MADE IT.
ARLENE:
BUT YOU DIDN’T GO THAT WAY. I MEAN YOU ARE SUCH A GOOD ACTOR EVERY TIME I HAVE SEEN YOU, YOU DIDN’T GO THAT WAY…
DON RICKLES:
WELL THANK YOU, BECAUSE IT WAS VERY HARD TO GET A JOB FOR ME AT THAT TIME. ANYWAYS, BEFORE I GOT OUT TO CALIFORNIA AND DID MY FIRST MOVIE.... I MEAN TO MAKE A LIVING I STARTED KIDDING AROUND AND STARTED DOING WHAT I AM DOING AND ONE THING LED TO ANOTHER AND THAT WAS WHAT PAID THE RENT SO I STUCK TO THAT PRETTY MUCH.
ARLENE:
THE ONE THAT PAID THE RENT…YOU MEAN BEING UP THERE….NOW I DON T WANT TO USE THE WORD INSULT, CAUSE I USED THAT THE LAST TIME WE TALKED AND YOU GOT INSULTED SO HOW WOULD..
DON RICKLES:
NOT REALLY.
ARLENE:
SO HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR HUMOR?
DON RICKLES:
WELL MY HUMOR…I AM NOT A JOKE TELLER. IT IS TAKING PEOPLE AND MAKING FUN OF THEIR BACKGROUND AND WHAT WE ALL KNOW AND EXAGGERATING….IT’S ALL REALLY EXAGGERATION AND DOING STEREO TYPE AND MAKING FUN OF ALL OUR INSECURITIES AND MAKING FUN OF US, NOT ONLY PEOPLE, BUT YOU KNOW THE COUNTRY ITSELF AND I HAVE ALWAYS HAD GREAT SUCCESS WITH THAT BECAUSE IT IS LAUGHING AT OURSELVES.
ARLENE:
OK AND YOU SAY THE THINGS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO SAY.
DON RICKLES:
I AM THE GUY….IT IS FUNNY YOU SHOULD SAY THAT….TO TIE IT ALL UP IS I AM THE GUY WHO GOES TO THE OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY, SAYS EVERYTHING TO THE BOSS AND ALL THE GUYS THAT YOU WORK WITH WANT TO SAY, AND COMES BACK MONDAY MORNING AND STILL HAS THE JOB.
ARLENE:
I HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING THAT I DON T WANT TO RIGHT NOW AND THAT IS THAT WE ARE OUT OF TIME FOR NOW, BUT I HAVE A LOT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT FOR THE NEXT TIME.
DON RICKLES:
OK, ARLENE, I LOOK FORWARD TO IT.
ARLENE:
THANKS, TALK TO YOU SOON. B-BYE.
DON RICKLES:
B-BYE.
 

Part 3

ARLENE:
DON RICKLES, HELLO, NICE TO TALK TO YOU AGAIN.
DON RICKLES:
NICE TO TALK TO YOU ARLENE.
ARLENE:
WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU HAVE DONE WHEN WE HAVE TALKED IN THE PAST, BUT YOUR HUMOR, IS SO OUTSTANDING AND IT IS SO DIFFERENT AND SCARY IN SOME WAYS FOR THE PEOPLE THAT SIT IN THE FRONT ROW.
DON RICKLES:
YEAH WELL MOST OF THE FRONT ROW……ANYONE WHO COMES TO SEE ME, KNOWS WHAT DON RICKLES IS ALL ABOUT. IF THEY DON ’T THEY HAVE BEEN LIVING ON AN ISLAND SOMEPLACE. I JUST GET OUT THERE AND TALK ABOUT ALL OF US AND MAKE FUN OF ALL OUR INSECURITIES AND EVERYTHING ABOUT US. US MEANING ALL THE PEOPLE THAT SEE US AND ALL THE PEOPLE WE COME IN CONTACT WITH AND IT BECOMES A PERFORMANCE. IT HAS DONE VERY WELL FOR ME AND IT IS SOMETHING THAT I ENJOY DOING.
ARLENE:
WELL YOU HAVE SUCH CONFIDENCE UP THERE ON THE STAGE. NOW I HEARD THAT AS A CHILD YOU WERE VERY, VERY, VERY SHY.
DON RICKLES:
WELL THAT IS TRUE, BUT I THINK ALL ACTORS THAT YOU COME ACROSS, ARLENE, THAT YOU INTERVIEW ARE VERY SHY. THAT IS NOT ONLY MYSELF BUT AND I THINK THAT IS AN OUTLET THAT’S HOW WE BECOME ACTORS TO EXPRESS OURSELVES. BUT I THINK MOST OF THE KIDS AND LADIES THAT I HAVE KNOWN IN THE BUSINESS HAD A BACKGROUND WHEN THEY WERE VERY YOUNG TO BE INHIBITED AND VERY SHY.
ARLENE:
WELL ARE YOU SHY TODAY, OFF STAGE?
DON RICKLES:
WELL NOT SO MUCH TODAY, AFTER ALL OF THESE YEARS THAT PART OF ME HAS GONE AWAY, BUT I AM CERTAINLY I AM NOT IMPRESSED WITH MYSELF, BUT SHY I AM NOT.
ARLENE:
WELL I AM IMPRESSED WITH YOU. SO MUCH OF WHAT YOU DO IS ADLIB. DO YOU EVER REGRET ANYTHING THAT YOU SAY?
DON RICKLES:
NO, ANYTHING I HAVE EVER SAID, I HAVE SAID FULL FORCE AND I BELIEVE IN IT AND WHEN YOU SAY ADLIB, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A BEGINNING, A MIDDLE AND AN ENDING, WHICH I HAVE AND I INJECT, OH I SAY EACH SHOW 5-10%, BECOMES OFF THE CUFF. MOST TIMES IT WOULD BE ABOUT 5% AND THAT IS ALL THAT HAPPENS, BUT I ALWAYS HAVE A BIG A MIDDLE AND AN ENDING AND KNOW WHERE I AM GOING EVERY NIGHT.
ARLENE:
OH OK. IN REAL LIFE I DO WANT TO TELL PEOPLE THAT YOU ARE A REALLY, REALLY, REALLY NICE GUY. YOU ARE GENEROUS, CARING, SO HOW DID THIS TYPE OF HUMOR START FOR YOU?
DON RICKLES:
WELL IT IS LIKE ANYTHING ELSE. IT IS A PERFORMANCE, YOU ACT, YOU PRETEND AND I ALWAYS HAD A WAY OF KIDDING AROUND. WHEN I WAS A YOUNG MAN IN HIGH SCHOOL AND IN THE SERVICE I HAD A TENDENCY TO RIB PEOPLE AND THEY ALWAYS RESPONDED WITH LAUGHTER AND SO THAT IS HOW IT ALL CAME ABOUT. THEY LAUGHED AT WHAT I SAID AND I REALIZED IT WAS FUNNY.
ARLENE:
YOU ARE A STAND-UP COMEDIAN, BUT YOU DON’T TELL JOKES.
DON RICKLES:
NOT REALLY NO.
ARLENE:
SO.
DON RICKLES:
I IMPROVISE AND I SATIRIZE IS WHAT I DO AND IT DOESN’T GO “TWO GUYS GOT OFF A BUS…” AND BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, I DON ’T DO THAT. IT COMES OUT AS A JOKE, BUT IT IS MORE OR LESS TELLING A STORY.
ARLENE:
WELL OK, NOW NOBODY IS SAFE AND THEY KNOW IT AND THEY KNOW IT IS PART OF YOUR HUMOR AND YOU REALLY KNOW AND LOVE A LOT OF THE PEOPLE THAT YOU TAKE ON IN YOUR ACT, BUT WHAT ABOUT ROYALTY? DO YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL? I READ ABOUT PRINCESS MARGARET.
DON RICKLES:
OH YOU REALLY KNOW ABOUT THAT.
ARLENE:
YES, SO DO YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL?
DON RICKLES:
NO I HAVE ENTERTAINED THREE PRESIDENTS AND RICHARD…NO NOT RICHARD NIXON…RONALD REGAN AND GERALD FORD. I HAVEN’T MET BILL CLINTON, BUT GEORGE BUSH AND I HAD IT GOING PRETTY GOOD AND I WAS INVITED TO THE WHITE HOUSE SO I HAVE BEEN IN FRONT OF VERY, VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE. I TREAT THEM NO DIFFERENTLY THAN ANYONE ELSE. IT IS ACTUALLY MORE FUN BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT AND YOU HAVE MORE THINGS TO SAY.
ARLENE:
AND THEY ALL TAKE IT WITH THE RIGHT SENSE OF HUMOR?
DON RICKLES:
OH CERTAINLY…THEY KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING, OH SURE.
ARLENE:
SO WHAT MAKES DON RICKLES RICKLES LAUGH?
DON RICKLES:
WELL TO BE HONEST, MY WIFE CAN MAKE ME LAUGH. SHE SAYS A LOT OF FUNNY THINGS…BOB NEWHART A GREAT FRIEND OF MINE, HE AND I HAVE GOOD TIMES TOGETHER. HE MAKES ME LAUGH AND SO WE ENJOY.
ARLENE:
YOU HAVE BEEN MARRIED 35 YEARS AND SHE MAKES YOU LAUGH. WHAT ELSE HAS KEPT THAT MARRIAGE TOGETHER?
DON RICKLES:
WELL, WE HAVE A GREAT CAMARADERIE TOGETHER AND A GREAT FRIENDSHIP AND SHE PRETTY MUCH THINKS THE WAY I DO AND I THINK THE WAY SHE DOES, SO THAT MAKES FOR A GREAT RELATIONSHIP.
ARLENE:
YES, AND A GOOD FAMILY AND A GRANDFATHER.
DON RICKLES:
YEAH, I HAVE A GRANDSON ETHAN CHARLES. HE IS A YEAR AND A HALF NOW AND HE IS REALLY SPECIAL.
ARLENE:
: AND YOU ARE REALLY SPECIAL AND I THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TALKING TO US AND SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US AND I THINK OUR AUDIENCE IS SEEING A WHOLE NEW DON RICKLES RICKLES OUT THERE…MR. NICE GUY.
DON RICKLES:
WELL I HOPE THEY COME AND SEE US AND ENJOY.
ARLENE:
ABSOLUTELY I WILL BE THERE TOO.
DON RICKLES:
OK, ARLENE, COME AND SAY HELLO.
ARLENE:
THANK YOU SO MUCH. B-BYE.
DON RICKLES:
BYE.