Jimmy Kimmel breaks down remembering Don Rickles, other late night hosts pay tribute


The death of legendary comedian Don Rickles hit a lot of his fellow comics hard -- including Jimmy Kimmel, who paid tearful tribute to the stand-up icon at the start of his show on Thursday.

"I'll tell you right up front that I'm going to cry," Kimmel said, wiping tears from his eyes. "I'm already crying, which is embarrassing. But I'm not good with this sort of thing and I'm sorry. Especially to those of you who came here to see the show in person, because that's probably not what you came for. But we lost someone that we and I love very much today."

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Rickles died Thursday morning at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 90.

"I know it sounds crazy to say he was too young, but he was. Because he was youthful and funny and sharp and generous," an increasingly emotional Kimmel shared. "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."

26 PHOTOS
Don Rickles through the years
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Don Rickles through the years
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' airs every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. EST and features a diverse lineup of guests that include celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for Monday, October 10 included Don Rickles (Don Rickles at The Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas), John Stamos (Scream Queens) and musical guest Two Door Cinema Club. (Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images) DON RICKLES
THE DANNY THOMAS HOUR -- 'Sea World' Episode 6 -- Pictured: Don Rickles at Sea World San Diego -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE DANNY THOMAS HOUR -- 'Sea World' Episode 6 -- Pictured: Don Rickles kisses Shamu the Whale at Sea World San Diego -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 23: THE DON RICKLES SHOW - 'Misc.' 1968 Extra, Don Rickles (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0488 -- Pictured: (l-r) Comedian Don Rickles during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on June 14, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 21: THE DON RICKLES SHOW - 'With Lorne Greene' 1968 Don Rickles, Lorne Green (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0305 -- Pictured: Comedian Don Rickles on August 4, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
From second left: American actor George Raft (1901 - 1980), talk show host Johnny Carson (1925 - 2005) and comedian Don Rickles, at the Friars Club Roast of George Raft, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, California, 6th February 1975. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Whoopi Goldberg & Don Rickles during 1992 HBO's Comic Relief in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Don Rickles during Don Rickles in Concert - October 7, 2005 at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States. (Photo by Tom Briglia/FilmMagic)
KRAFT MUSIC HALL -- 'Friars Roast of Jerry Lewis' Episode 1317 -- Pictured: Don Rickles -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
387274 09: Actor Don Rickles attends the Spago closing party hosted by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck and his wife Barbara Lazaroff March 28, 2001 in West Hollywood, CA. Puck and Lazaroff will be closing their Hollywood restaurant at the end of the month. (Photo by Newsmakers)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 17: THE JOEY BISHOP SHOW - (1968) Don Rickles (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 904 -- Pictured: Comedian Don Rickles on April 18, 1996 -- (Photo by: Margaret C. Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 29: Comic Don Rickles and wife Barbara Sklar attend 24th Annual American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Awards Honoring Clint Eastwood on February 29, 1996 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Comic Don Rickles attends 31st Annual Thalians Ball Honoring Shirley MacLaine on October 11, 1986 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
CENTURY CITY, CA - DECEMBER 3: Actress Dinah Shore, comic Don Rickles and wife Barbara Sklar attend the premiere of 'Crimes Of The Heart' on December 3, 1986 at the Plitt Theater in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Gabe Kaplan during an interview with Guest Host Don Rickles on October 13th, 1975 -- (Photo by:Ron Tom/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Don Rickles in 'Mr. Dingle, The Strong', episode 19 of season 2 of CBS' science fiction television series, 'The Twilight Zone', July 29, 1960. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JULY 29: THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Don Rickles, left, and Burgess Meredith in 'Mr. Dingle, The Strong.' Image dated July 29, 1960. Original airdate March 3, 1961 (Season 2, Episode 19). (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 25: Comic Don Rickles and actor Bob Newhart attend the birthday party for Marvin Davis on June 25, 1991 at Spago Restaurant in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 19: Comic Don Rickles sighted on September 19, 1991 at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: (l-r) Comedian Don Rickles during an interview with host Johnny Carson on May 31, 1991 -- (Photo by: Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Comedian Don Rickles speaks at the Hollywood Walk of Fame star presentation ceremony for director John Lasseter, in Hollywood, California, November 1, 2011. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4075 -- Pictured: )Comedian Don Rickles during an interview on July 14, 2011 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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The 49-year-old talk show host opened up about his past with the beloved comic, and how it took four years to convince him to come on the show.

"We asked him to do the show over and over again, and he didn't know what this [show] was. He knew The Tonight Show and [David] Letterman and that's it. But finally, after we bothered him like 20 times, he gave up and he did the show for my birthday in 2006."

Kimmel said the "exciting" experience of interviewing Rickles made him feel like he "was in some kind of talk show host fantasy camp."

"Sitting behind a desk while Don Rickles made fun of me, [it] was like being a real talk show host for a minute," he shared.

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Rickles went on to sit down with Kimmel 17 times after his first appearance, and the pair forged a close friendship.

The comedian was famous for his incredibly acerbic humor and was one of the most celebrated insult comics of all time, beloved for his razor-sharp wit, incredible timing and unparalleled ability to make fun of anything and everything.

Like most comedians who knew Rickles, Kimmel appreciated his sense of humor and knew what an honor it was to be on the receiving end of one of his hilarious insults.

31 PHOTOS
Stars react to Don Rickles' death
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Stars react to Don Rickles' death
90 years with Don Rickles weren't enough. One of the sweetest and most lovely people I had the pleasure of knowing. We miss you already
Don Rickles has passed away. A giant loss.
Don once begged me for a couple of bucks then told me to twist myself into a pretzel. Ego slayer! Comic Everest! Spank you, Mr Rickles. ;^)
Awwww man Rickles is dead. Rest In Peace buddy.
RIP Don Rickles. One of the funniest people that ever lived, you dumb schmuck.
Don Rickles, you kept us laughing for so many years. We will miss you dearly. Thanks for the zingers. You were one of a kind.
#RIP Don Rickles! https://t.co/xkRSabFfWX
One person I always wanted to meet and shake hands with. RIP Don Rickles
In lieu of flowers, Don Rickles' family has requested that people drop their pants and fire a rocket. #RIPDonRickles
Hockey puck. We've lost @DonRickles I love him so. Smart, funny, a pro and most important deeply and honestly kind. Kind is what matters.
Quite simply one of the funniest ever. RIP Don Rickles 90 https://t.co/xiZf1U1g6J
RIP to this sweet and lovely man https://t.co/j8mseq1aSY
Aw jeez. Rickles .Sweetest, funniest, legend and mensch. Came to a party at my house gave me a dollar and told me to get a nicer place.#RIP
RIP Don Rickles. Your humor would be lost on the young today. Say hi to Joan. https://t.co/iUx1rWMpDj
1. A Don Ricles story. My dad loved Don Rickles and always said he wanted to be subjected to a Don Rickles insult.
RIP Don Rickles... thank you for the laughs https://t.co/V4QK8rcct4
Don Rickles, king of insult comedy, dies at 90 - https://t.co/XSsKQx2d64
He never was Politically Correct and he never apologized for it. R.I.P. Don Rickles @DonRickles
My friend, my dad, the funniest biggest hearted of them all. A beautiful husband and father. My heart is broken. Rest In Peace. Don Rickles.
As Don Rickles said so many times over the years, "The senate filibuster rule is the only thing keeping me alive." :(
Don Rickles, such sharp hilarious wit in an era when an insult comic didn't need to be vulgar to be funny. You will… https://t.co/w7HSLNQslW
I saw Don Rickles at the Daily Show once. He had no idea who I was. He looked at my face & said "Stop worrying. It'… https://t.co/t0KzIlQrad
As I was standing nearby, #DonRickles once whispered in my wife's ear, "What are you doing with a loser like him?" I was honored. #rip #sad
90 years old. Didn't look a day over 214. Nice job dying, you hockey puck.
Rickles was awesome.
One of the funniest, ballsiest comics of all time. RIP Don Rickles. https://t.co/wF9rPQjjVz
God Bless Don Rickles, aka, Mr. Warmth! Proud to have been heckled by him from the stage many times! #RIP
Rickles is gone. He was the best, you hockey pucks. RIP
Don Rickles JFK/LAX we spoke for 3 hours while his beautiful wife Barbara slept. Don Rickles was so kind to me I forgot we'd never met LOVE
Don Rickles created a style of stand up and owned (!!!) it his entire career of 60+ years. It's unparalleled. No, I mean, NO ONE did that.
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The late night host recalled an occasion when he took Rickles to Mario Batali's Los Angeles restaurant Mozza, and threw him a fun, somewhat lavish party.

"We rented the private room in back," Kimmel shared. "We had food, I invited his friends, it was beautiful. It was very expensive, OK? And I paid for it. At the end of this beautiful meal, he says to me -- I'll never forget it -- he goes, 'I can't believe you took me to a pizza place.'"

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Rickles' sense of humor earned him the nickname Mr. Warmth. However, while the moniker was intended to be ironic, Kimmel said that he actually was incredibly warm, caring and sweet.

"He would always ask about my parents, my kids. When my uncle Frank passed away, I called [Don] and asked him to be the guest on that show. Which was a tough show. And he helped all of us through it," Kimmel recalled. "He gave me advice. And good advice, not just the advice people give you to hear themselves giving the advice."

"There will never be another Don Rickles," Kimmel concluded. "He was probably the greatest talk show guest of all time."

Kimmel closed his emotional monologue with a video tribute to the late comic, showing some of Rickles' best moments from the many times he appeared on Jimmy Kimel Live.

Kimmel's first guest of the night was Adam Sandler, and the pair shared some of their memories of the late icon.

"He was just the greatest guy," Sandler said. "I worshiped the guy too."

Sandler recalled a moment, nearly 20 years ago, when he and actor Steve Buscemi were eating at a restaurant in New York and Rickles came up to their table, just to rib them a bit. The experience stuck with Sandler forever.

"[He said], 'So, Happy Gilmore. I watched the whole thing. Wow, amazing how no talent can get you a movie,'" Sandler recalled, laughing. "I was like, 'Yes, yes!' He was the best."

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Stephen Colbert also paid tribute to Rickles in his Late Show monologue, sharing a story about the two met backstage at the Emmys.

"While I didn't know Don Rickles, I did have the incredible honor to meet him once," Colbert recalled. "He hugged me and told me I was good. And I felt like a made man."

"We all should [hope] to have his career and be who he was," he added. "Married to his wife, I don't know, 120 years? So God bless you Don Rickles, and thank you."

Late Night host Seth Meyers remembered his first time meeting Rickles as well, back when he was still a cast member on Saturday Night Live.

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"A few years ago I was at a party and Don Rickles was there. He was sitting at a table, and he was alone, and I said to myself, 'I will always regret it if I don't go over and say hello to Don Rickles,'" Meyers said.

"I went over and I said, 'Mr. Rickles, I just wanted to say hello, my name is Seth Meyers, I'm on Saturday Night Live.' And he just looked at me and said, 'Oh I'm so sorry to hear Saturday Night Live was cancelled,'" Meyers continued, "and I was like, 'Oh, it wasn't cancelled.' And he just went, 'Ugh, a guy can dream.' ... There's nothing better than getting burned by Don Rickles."

Jimmy Fallon also addressed Rickles' death while sitting down on the Tonight Show with former host Jay Leno, who said, "I love that whole generation of comics, Don, and of course Rodney [Dangerfield]... But there's nothing better than comedian funerals, because everyone tells the best jokes."

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While The Late Late Show and Conan were both in reruns on Thursday, hosts James Corden and Conan O'Brien paid tribute on social media.

"Don Rickles was one the absolute greats. I feel lucky for the times I was ever in his orbit," Corden wrote. "My thoughts are with his family today.

O'Brien also took to Twitter to share his memories, writing, "I was thrilled to interview/be insulted non-stop by the legendary Don Rickles. I will sorely miss this incredibly funny and lovable man."

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