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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Don Rickles
Aired May 2, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Don Rickles, an uncensored, outrageaous hour with a comedy legend, the sultan of insults, the king of slings and arrows, the lord of low, lows, Mr. Warmth. My buddy Don Rickles is here an no one's safe. Next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
OK, folks. The night we've dreamt about. He's back, one of my oldest and dearest friends, Don Rickles.
We only know each other 47 years. He's been a legend in American comedy for over 50 years, the King of Zing. He wrote that here.
DON RICKLES, COMEDIAN: Yes, the King of Zing. Whoopee.
KING: Yes, whoopee. Don Rickles. We're going to do a whole hour with Don. We're going to have -- the outtakes, in-takes, cuttings. And we're going to talk a lot about his extraordinary career.
He just signed a new contract to perform in Las Vegas at the Stardust. He's been playing Vegas for 45 years.
RICKLES: Yes. Yes.
KING: Forty-five years?
RICKLES: Forty-five years. And now I work for that guy, Larry. Bringing you, you know -- (singing) "Danke Schein, darling, Danke Schein." I've got to run around after his horse going (makes noises).
KING: Is Wayne Newton the boss at the Stardust?
RICKLES: Oh, not really the boss. It's just he -- so I make him feel like he is.
KING: And my wife will appear with you again in November.
RICKLES: Well, it's a mercy thing. God bless you. I love her. I love her show. She...
KING: She's always great. And she's going to open for you in November, and I'm thrilled.
RICKLES: Her father's coming, you Mormon people. Coming with a wagon and some new rules (ph). They're going to stand in front of the church going, "Halleluiah. Let the eagles fly (ph)." KING: How did Vegas begin? Seriously, how did Vegas begin for you? What was your first date in Vegas?
RICKLES: My father and I were looking for gold. We were out on the roller (ph) with a couple of pans. The water came, and we had some nuggets. And I thought...
KING: How did you get started?
RICKLES: ... and get a buffet for $1.04.
And I though -- No, the thing is -- A place, the Sahara Hotel, in the lounge, Stan Irwin (ph), I don't know his (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But this year he got together with a few other agents and said -- they showed me a place called the State Brothers.
KING: You were in L.A.
RICKLES: Yes. And I was knocking doors down in the State Brothers, making fun of stars and Frank Sinatra. You remember him. Very impressed. And so he came in and brought every star. And you know, when he laughed, they all laughed.
"Is it funny, Frank?"
"Ha, ha, ha."
KING: So that was the big break?
RICKLES: Yes. And then they heard about me at State Brothers. I went up to the lounge, and I got in the lounge with the great Willie Primer (ph) at the time, and Keely Smith (ph) and they were the kings, you know.
KING: You were the opening act.
RICKLES: Yes. Don't be cruel. You don't have to say the opening act. I was just a part of the understudy program of bellboys (ph), you know. The characters. We were all different groups.
KING: How did you...
RICKLES: What's wrong with you, Larry? You're talking -- "How did you..."
KING: You crack me up.
RICKLES: And then you look off into space. Take my drink.
KING: How did you get to be you? What I mean...
RICKLES: Well, I came out of my mother, I think. I don't...
KING: I don't mean that. You were never a standup, per se. You never told jokes.
RICKLES: Well, I did. I told jokes badly. Well, you might remember. In the days of Murray Franklin...
KING: I saw your first show (ph).
RICKLES: Anyway, 125 sheets, and did bad impressions. And Sophie Tucker, that was my big one: (singing) "Some of these days." That was my big number. And I did bad impressions, and I couldn't tell a joke for the life of me.
To this day, if you gave me $1,000, I really can't stand up -- You can tell a joke. You're a good storyteller and a good joke teller. I cannot tell a joke. But I can do a situation, that it becomes a joke. If that makes sense.
KING: Right. You make the situation funny.
RICKLES: Right. And...
KING: But I -- when I say you would come in as the Mad Emperor. You would wear a thing and walk through the crowd.
RICKLES: Yes. But when I saw you yesterday, you were just laying over the radio and going, "Call me. Somebody call me." I mean, we all have a start. I mean, gee whiz.
Yes, I was called the Emperor. Called the Merchant...
KING: Merchant of Venom.
RICKLES: Yes, I loved that. But the best one, the best one in my days was Mr. Warmth. That was Johnny Carson.
KING: He named you Mr. Warmth.
JOHNNY CARSON, TONIGHT SHOW: Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles.
RICKLES: I'm going to get frog fungus.
CARSON: Sorry, I didn't have time to tidy up here.
RICKLES: It's OK. Jews don't work zoos.
CARSON: Never seen a Jewish lion tamer, do you?
RICKLES: Never, you never hear Lou Lipschitz in a cage with a tiger.
KING: What was your biggest break?
RICKLES: The Sky Rocket.
KING: This show?
RICKLES: Are you crazy? Are you crazy, Larry? This was just a time killer for me. You kidding. I'm on now because I know this goes to Tokyo, and I've got an uncle there.
No, no. The biggest -- I'd have to say the biggest break was an -- an abundance of things that happened. Johnny Carson was a great help to me.
Of course, Mr. Sinatra was my mentor and hero. He -- Frank did everything for me. He'd bring his people to see me and laugh. And he brought the smartest crowd: Tony Donse (ph), Charlie Boone (ph). Wonderful.
And they all just sat there and said, "What did he say? Francis, I just find him funny."
And they all talked like that because when they were kids, the back -- you know, the exhaust from the car, into the throat. And they could never clear it up.
That's a good explanation. What a turnout.
KING: This is a private studio.
RICKLES: I know. I'm looking at four people and an old hooker laying here on the floor.
KING: But let's get to -- we'll get to Sinatra in awhile. We'll get to it. But I remember in Miami. You left Miami, you were working lounges.
KING: You came back and you were in the big room.
RICKLES: Yes. Well, not -- not exactly. I was in Miami, and the thing that happened in Miami is I got into the big room when Johnny Carson got sick. Remember? I don't know if you remember that. I was at the -- I was at Doral (ph) and...
But Johnny Carson was there, and one night he took ill. And he said, you know, I thought I was working in the lounge. He said, "You go up there and you do it."
I said to him, "Do what?" You know? "I don't have an act. I don't have an act." I went up, and I was good, and I realized I was better than Johnny Carson. And so they dumped him and kept me.
He's now on a yacht just sitting around, going, "Why did Rickles dump me? Why? Why?"
And that's how it all happened.
KING: That was the big break.
RICKLES: Well, yes.
KING: I remember you -- you, the Dean Martin thing was a big break for you. RICKLES: Right. That was another thing.
KING: That was national.
KING: First big national television exposure.
RICKLES: But Johnny Carson is...
KING: Before Martin?
RICKLES: Yes, yes. Johnny Carson was in New York. I was on with Johnny Carson.
And then Dean and Greg Garrison, you know, they were great to me. And Dean gave me that big -- that big opportunity where just all the stars were invited, and he said, "Keep the tape going. And Don, you make up whatever you want." You know? Which I did, and I wiped out the entire industry.
And then Dean said, "Well, I -- I meant..." (ph)
RICKLES: Italians are fantastic people, really. They can work you over in an alley while singing an opera. Ever watch them?
RICKLES: I've got an album.
Dean, do you understand any of this? If you do, blink twice. If you don't, blink three times and we'll let you go to the toy, toy (ph). But it's your night, boy. It's your big night. And I'm perspiring. I'm getting malaria.
A Japonese guy wants, a gori, gori (ph).
KING: Those roasts. We're going to be showing a lot of clips and stuff like that.
RICKLES: You know what the -- you know what the highlight of my life has been? Highlight of my life?
RICKLES: I never told you this. Don't get excited now. Pull yourself together, Larry, otherwise I'll walk. You know what you have here? Three newts and one guy staring at you.
So you know, I...
KING: What was it?
RICKLES: The inaugural of Ronald Reagan, with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. And that was the greatest thing. Ronald Reagan and George Bush. That was -- I still remember like it was yesterday. KING: You entertained at that inaugural?
RICKLES: Yes, yes. And when Frank told the cabinet -- he called me in Hawaii. He said, "I told the cabinet" and you could hear the cabinet go (makes noises).
He said, "Don is going to imitate George Shultz and all those guys," you know, at the time. And it was a great...
KING: Is it true at a White House dinner, leaving the dinner, you went over to Ronald Reagan and said, "If you're ever in Vegas and you need something, call me."
RICKLES: Yes. I said, "Whatever you need." I said, "Whatever you need for yourself. A couple of quarters, whatever you want."
KING: We'll be right back with Don Rickles, Mr. Warmth. Right after this. Don't go away.
RICKLES: So excited if we have a turnout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKLES: I would just like to say, Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, for $25,000 the meal was lousy.
Is he laughing? Take a look, see if the president's laughing.
Mr. President, try to listen.
Anyway -- he keeps looking around saying, is George Bush the president, or am I still in charge?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKLES: You know what's good about great stars such as you, Bob?
BOB HOPE, ENTERTAINER: Why?
RICKLES: Because you're old and washed up. You're laughing, because you're not thinking about it.
If he ain't laughing, show him a picture of Jack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could.
RICKLES: I kid. Jack Benny. A great star. God bless him.
Milton Berle, great people. This is wonderful being here at the home.
It's a joke! It's a joke! I take it back! I take it back!
It takes many years to be a great comedian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sure does, and you haven't reached that yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's funny, the -- how did that Dean Martin roast thing come about for you?
RICKLES: Well, Greg Garrison really was -- was great to me. And it all came back to Dean, who did pretty good, you know, with Frank and doing the shows -- that's how I did the Dean Martin show. And I said, "Hey, if you could."
And they found out that -- and Greg was the one that said, "Well, Rickles don't need any cards. Let him just say whatever he wants to say."
KING: The rest of them all had cards?
RICKLES: Well, a lot of them did. A couple of people like Jonathan Winters did. I thought he was marvelous. He -- He never had a card. And I can't pick out certain people.
But most of them had, you know, cue cards with stuff. And I just got up there and, you know, just did what I did. And thank God...
KING: They were hits, those roasts.
RICKLES: Yes, they were great. They were great. In fact, we did -- we just did an infomercial just now with Ruth Buzzy and Rich Little another one, the three of us together, hosting the thing and talking about the Dean Martin roasts.
KING: Let's get to Sinatra.
RICKLES: Yes. You want me to introduce him? (ph)
Don't say it like that. There's a couple guys he knows, you know. I've got a family.
He's the one that, you know, object to Frank's voice and everything (ph).
KING: No, no, no.
RICKLES: I loved Frank. Otherwise you can see a Jew with glasses a little on the left.
KING: He liked you right away, right?
RICKLES: Yes. He was great.
KING: Weren't you a little apprehensive about rapping Frank Sinatra?
RICKLES: No. In those days, when I stood up, like my father would say, I always three the right hand, best punch I had. I'm a lefty, but I threw a righty.
Anyway, I always do my best shot, and I just -- in my heart I just knew that he was -- the reason I knew is because my mother and his mother -- Doris and my mother Edith, they became friends.
And my mother -- and my mother, before I even knew Frank, would say, used to go up to the front to him and say, "Here, have a little soup. Rest up, Frank, Darling."
She was that way. She was the kind of woman who said...
KING: What a mother.
RICKLES: ... "Frank, how do you feel?" You know?
"Keep it down, Mom. Keep it down," you know.
But she was, you know, as all of us is, as actors, we're all insecure and self-conscious, you know. And she used to -- she was a Jew Patton, you know. "Hello, darling. How are you, Frank??
KING: A Jew Patton?
RICKLES: I know what I said. You don't have to repeat it. Why? This isn't on? It's a prop? OK.
KING: But Frank...
RICKLES: Joe Pesci. OK, OK.
KING: Now he comes to see you.
RICKLES: Yes. And he came to see me. And it was at Mary Franklin's (ph), to my recollection, the first time. And he sat down right in the front, and I started to do the thing.
And one of the famous lines, "Come on, Frank. Be yourself. Hit somebody." You know?
And the whole audience laughed. And all these guys who were with him went, "What'd he do?" But no...
KING: He liked it.
RICKLES: Yes, rest his soul. Yes, gosh. It was -- it was really an uncanny thing that he was so kind to me that way.
And -- and the beautiful part is that he knew that I was a decent kind of guy, you know...
KING: You're a pussycat, basically. People don't know that. You are a pussycat. RICKLES: I want to be a dog, but I'm a pussycat.
KING: You're a pussycat.
RICKLES: OK. Let's go on.
KING: Back to Frank.
RICKLES: Back to Frank.
KING: You worked with Frank. You toured with Frank.
RICKLES: For the last two years of his working life.
KING: What was that like?
RICKLES: Eydie and Steve toured with him and did a wonderful tour. But I had that little privilege at the very end. It was great.
KING: You were on for the close, right?
RICKLES: Yes. But they had was -- I first worked on the -- Barry Weisman (ph), who's my manager -- still my manager. He's been ill now, but he's going to be OK. Because I took away his medicine for about a half hour. But he's going to be OK.
Anyway, so what happened was I -- they had me doing a half hour when I first went with Frank.
Then he said, "Listen -- You and Julie" -- You know Julie.
KING: Of course.
RICKLES: "It would be great. You go out and give her heck and kid around."
KING: At the end?
RICKLES: Yes. No, at the beginning of the show. While he was working. I came out and said, "Frank, Vinnie Boombani (ph) sent this drink." And "Shirley got it in the neck. Two in the neck. Shirley. Just can't believe it. That's straight for Shirley. (ph)"
And he would laugh.
And then as time went on, some nights I'd come out and I'd say, "Frank, Shirley got two in the neck."
"No, no, Frank. The joke, the joke. Shirley."
He started forgetting and he started saying, "Why are you here? Why are you here?" He was doing Ed Sullivan bits with me.
I was standing there like a moron going, "Frank, give me a break."
He's going, "Get off. I don't need you with the drink."
But he -- it was fine. He just -- he just would get -- he'd get tired of doing it. So he'd just go, "Get off."
And I went in the back and shot myself.
KING: Was he a taskmaster? Was he tough?
RICKLES: Well, Frank was very strict with his work.
KING: Were there...
RICKLES: And very -- and very -- I would say he was, if he loved you, he loved you. That was it. There was no "maybe," "I think so." Not in my opinion. He was always right there for you.
When we were in Monte Carlo, it was the highlight of -- one of the exciting parts of my life. I traveled with Bob Newhart, who as you know, with him I went all over the world.
But I traveled just two months, maybe a month and a half, with Frank in Monte Carlo and in Italy.
And by the way, we had a driver. He spoke -- his driver was only Italian, spoke only Italian. My driver was Italian but he was an American, too.
So my -- his taxi driver was going, "Mr. Sinatra, (imitates Italian)."
And Frank says, "This guy is getting on my nerves."
And my guy said, "Mr. Rickles where would you like to go?"
I said, "Vito, make a right."
So Frank heard me in the car one night and he says, "Why does he have an English speaking driver?"
I said, "Frank, this guys wonderful."
Next thing you know, I'm in the car, "Make a left." (imitates Italian)
KING: Let me go to break, and we'll pick up on Monte Carlo.
A lot of things happening with Rickles. He's going to do a first ever made for TV movie. They're going to remake "Gigot." And he's booked forever at the Stardust. And of that era of comics, he's the only one that still works the major rooms, the only major comic that works Letterman, of your era.
RICKLE: That's very sweet. Yes. David has been wonderful, too.
KING: We'll be right back with Don Rickles. Mr. Warmth. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: Now, Don, before we begin...
RICKLES: No wait. I just got in the chair. Give me a break.
LETTERMAN: I know, I just wanted to say...
RICKLES: For crying out loud, what is this, a test. Give me a brea.
LETTERMAN: I just wanted to say how happy I am that when you're in New York City, when you come east -- I know you don't live here, you live on the west coast -- that you make time in your busy schedule, because I know you have many social commitments and many professional engagments, and I'm always happy that you make time in your schedule say hello to us.
RICKLES: Thanks, Dave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARSON: I just started the show. I pick my blox up off my desk that I've had for nine years. My box is broken. They told me -- they told me you broke it on the show last night.
RICKLES: I -- I...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help me. Carry on. Help me. They know who I am. Why do you always do that? Johnny Carson. They know who I am. Don Rickles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was "CPO Sharky." You walked onto the set, took the cameras right across the hall.
RICKLES: That was a great night. It took the -- I mean, he really threw me.
KING: I could tell. We don't see you that way.
RICKLES: No, no. But he was special.
KING: OK. Frank and Martin. What happened in Monte Carlo?
RICKLES: Well, Monte Carlo was great. You know, we saw Prince Albert, you know. We went up to the palace.
KING: You did?
RICKLES: I drove up to the palace with Frank and Frank says, "Call them." So I got out and kind of, "Albert!"
And Frank said, "What are you doing?"
I said, "Well, you said to call. Albert, come on out! Frank wants to play with you." I did that. And all the guys with the spears were, "Hmm."
You know, the guys in front of the palace.
RICKLES: And then we got to know Albert pretty -- But I got to know everybody.
And the thing -- Estee Lauder, is she still with us?
KING: I don't know.
RICKLES: I don't know either. And I hope to God she is. If she's not, I do this with due respect.
I sit down with her, you know, at the party. She goes out -- every night there's another party. There's this big -- "Don, this is the Count Bellini Bertalli (ph)." A countess.
I'm looking for Shirley Schwartz from the Bronx. Or Tommy Johnson, a guy I know. Nothing, always. Everybody was a prince and a count.
I'd look at Frank and say, "Who is that?"
"Drink up. Who cares?"
I'll have you know, the woman sits down next to me. And she says -- I hope you can appreciate this, Larry -- she says -- I said, "Ma'am, what is your name?"
She said, "My name, dear, is Estee Lauder."
And I said, "I thought you were a sign."
It's an inside joke, but I thought it was funny.
KING: I never heard that.
RICKLES: I swear to God, I said to my wife -- my wife -- I'm looking at left and right, except, my -- as you know, knowing Barbara, I sat down and she said, "Don, what did you just say?"
I said, "I told her she was a sign."
"Stupid. Don't be stupid. She's an important woman. Why did you say that?"
KING: Barb was very critical of you at times, was she not? RICKLES: At the White House, oh geez. We went skipping around at the White House. George Bush, who I love -- I still love -- and Barbara Bush...
KING: Great sport.
RICKLES: Yes. The other guy don't know me. He's busy cutting cowboy records (ph). Some day he'll discover me and realize it was a mistake.
OK. Great. So he's looking for, what's his name, Black Gill. "My mother died, but Duck is dead (ph)."
KING: George Bush the first.
RICKLES: That's right. In the White House. Which he -- it's a good White House.
I get invited to the state dinner. First, we got invited to the Israeli dinner, and I couldn't make it because we had this thing booked. So he wanted to be nice, so he invited me to the Moroccan -- the Tunisian dinner. Everybody came with hoods and guns and capes, and they were all going, "(imitates Arabic)."
And I said to Barbara, "We're not going to live. We won't get to the White House lawn. It will be over."
And I -- so we go. And Barbara sits with the ambassador of Tunisia. They put me -- and you've been in the White House many times -- put me by the fireplace, like where Barbara Bush and the president sits, right? Barbara Bush. Beautiful.
Barbara Bush is a great lady.
RICKLES: And we sit down, and -- and they're serving up wine at the table and you know, it's great.
"The president, Charles So-and-So is going to speak."
"All right. All right."
Another guy gets up. "(imitates Arabic)."
And I'm saying, "Take off the armband. I better take off the armband. They'll know who I am."
Anyway, so I'm sitting there and the black servant comes, you know, handsome man, white gloves, leans over and says, "Sir, would you care for an appetizer?" And he had a big tray.
And I said -- and I'm looking straight at him -- I said, "Can I tell you something?"
He said, "What is it, sir?"
"Take -- Take a look. Take a look behind you."
A giant picture of Abraham Lincoln. And he looks at the picture of Lincoln.
And I said, "Who is that picture? Up to Barbara's left? (ph)"
He said -- he said, "That's Abraham Lincoln, sir."
"You don't have to serve me."
And Barbara Bush went -- she started laughing. And George Bush is, like, "Just give him a drink."
He said, "What'd he say? What'd he say? What'd he say?"
I thought it was funny.
KING: You -- you're a piece of work, Rickles.
RICKLES: I love life, and I love you.
OK. So right now...
KING: Where are we? I forgot where we were.
RICKLE: That's OK. Look it up in your notes. The part where I attacked Germany.
KING: First appearance on "The Tonight Show." What was that like?
RICKLES: Scary, you know? And then -- you see, but Johnny, again, had great chemistry. As you know, he always -- Letterman has that quality. Jay Leno doesn't -- Jay's a different style.
KING: Letterman uses you all the time.
RICKLES: Yes. Jay is still debating. But Letter was wonderful, you know. He -- and he lays back and leaves those spaces. And he's a lot like Johnny did, you know?
He'd say, "Where's your mother?" Well, you do that, you know. Boom-boom-boom, you get on a rift, and you go better.
And so I went on with David and -- what were we saying? And he's just great, David Letterman.
KING: Carson, you mean. RICKLES: Well, yes, Carson. Johnny, the chemistry fell right in and I always, when I sat down with Johnny, I felt like I knew him for life, you know?
KING: And he wanted you to be friends with him.
RICKLES: Yes. He just -- he would lean over and go -- well, you do that, you know? But he -- and he set me up all the time. He never -- I never once in my life said, "God, I'm really unhappy with that performer -- that appearance." He always made me...
KING: He was always hysterical.
RICKLES: He was wonderful. Still is.
KING: Back with more of Don Rickles. We'll ask about this TV movie and his television career and his movie career. He's a great actor. Don't go away.
RICKLES: You can believe that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARSON: Oh, ho, ho. Let your fingers do the walking. I told you, remember.
RICKLES: Can I do it a couple of minutes.
CARSON: No, no, no!
RICKLES: Give me a break, I'm so lonely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKLES: Do me a favor. Give me a break. I've got relatives living in Jersey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not for long.
RICKLES: Frank, you heard something?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Precious. Rickles, Sinatra. What a career. His television career. He had "The Don Rickles Show" on ABC. He had "The Don Rickles Show" on CBS. "CPO Sharky" on NBC. I loved that show.
RICKLES: It was really like a plane crash.
KING: You co-hosted "Foul-Ups, Bleeps and Blunders" on NBC with Steve Lawrence.
RICKLES: Yes. It was another one.
KING: You co-starred on Fox's "Daddy Dearest" with Richard Lewis. I was involved in that one. Richard Lewis said he wanted to meet you. I introduced the two of you.
RICKLES: Yes, Richard's a good guy. Good actor, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKLES: Oh, you're a Jewish guy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
RICKLES: Oh, do whatever you want.
You're a gorilla.
How old a guy are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm 32.
RICKLES: 32 years-old. 300 pounds. My god.
Where's the wife?
Look at her face. She's in agony.
Do you have any children darling? I wonder why?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, tell me about "Gigot."
RICKLES: Well, I'm just really thrilled. When this is on -- I don't know if this will be finished by then or not.
But we're going up to Montreal -- this tape and going up to Montreal and Bill Macy and Steve Schecter (ph), the director, Norman Rosemont, the producer, they -- some people called me.
William Morris, my agency, Jennifer Craig, my agent. She doesn't know about it, though. And she called me and said that they wanted me in this film.
KING: Now, "Gigot" was a famous movie...
RICKLES: Yes, with Jackie Gleason.
KING: With Jackie Gleason, played a mute...
RICKLES: A mute.
KING: ... who never spoke.
RICKLES: And Bill was playing this mute. This little girl. And in it, there's a guy -- happened to be a Jewish guy, but happened to be his dear friend.
RICKLES: And they called up and said, "Don" -- I was very flattered, because Macy, who's just a brilliant actor, I mean to be able to get an opportunity to work with him and have scenes with him is really -- I'm biting at the bit. I really am.
KING: You're a natural actor.
RICKLES: Why, thank you. But you know...
KING: You were terrific in "Casino."
RICKLES: But I got what I always wanted. When I carried De Niro, that was a job. You know, carrying De Niro, you know, and kissing up to him, you know: "Bob, you're great."
And I had to do all that crap, you know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
RICKLES: Sam, we got a problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is it?
RICKLES: The little guy. He's half in the bag. And nobody told him he was 86 from the joint. So we both turned our heads and made out like we didn't know who he was. He's over at the 21 table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RICKLES: But Macy's more down to earth. You know, with De Niro, it was "Bob, you're great."
KING: When does "Gigot" air?
RICKLES: We don't know. It's just taping. I don't know. But I know that it's TNT. Johnson & Johnson is the sponsor.
KING: Oh, it's one of those...
RICKLES: Yes. And Ned Beatty, who I know very well...
KING: He's a great actor.
RICKLES: He's in it. And having Ned Beatty in the cast is...
KING: That's exciting. I'm happy for you.
RICKLES: Yes, thanks.
KING: You keep on going. RICKLES: But you'll never see -- because first, you bust that off (ph). To me, the stand up part in my life is great. I know I can do that. When I get an acting chance, I'm really thrilled.
KING: "Will Capp" (ph) is the title, not "Gigot," right?
RICKLES: It's a working title. They don't know yet.
KING: Why not "Gigot"?
RICKLES: I asked Macy that.
KING: Maybe he's not playing him as French. Gigot was French, right?
RICKLES: Yes. No, it says "Gigot." On the script, it says "Gigot."
RICKLES: And you know what he does? He does the mute. And my part is talking to him without, "Listen, Gigot, we'll go and get the apartment. Don't worry about them."
And his lines are...
It could be a long two weeks in Montreal. I'm used to a guy saying, "Well, the cab's outside. Where is the cab?"
KING: I remember other Rickles films: "Run Silent Run Deep" with Clark Gable.
RICKLES: Dive, dive, dive! Take it down 1,000 feet. Dive!
"Don't you remember the lines, Don? Try to remember the lines."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dive! Dive!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One down, 20 fish to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You were in a submarine.
RICKLES: Right. Why do people still do that? I get the phone number of a supermarket, and they ran out of food. Why do you keep doing that?
You do that with every guest. So what happens in the film?
RICKLES: I know what happened. I know.
KING: No, you don't know what happened.
RICKLES: You grabbed Shawn's upper lip and went, "Don't sing again." I know, I know.
KING: OK. Anyway, you worked with Gable.
RICKLES: Yes. See, a lot of kids today, it's scary, as we get older. Your children, or my son. Larry is 33, a wonderful boy. He knows a lot about that. And Mindy, my daughter, was older than that. A couple years older than that.
KING: She doesn't know Gable?
RICKLES: Well, she knows, but she's, like -- But guys that are into movies, as my son is, as a writer and producer, he knows what Gable is. But you talk to young kids and you say, "Clark Gable."
KING: They don't know Clark Gable.
RICKLES: No. Sometimes, you know?
RICKLES: And he was -- he was, you know -- he was the kind of guy, and he came on the set. And you know I worked with a great actor. I don't see him anymore. God bless him, if he's listening -- I love him -- his name was Jack Warden.
KING: Oh, Jack.
RICKLES: Jack was dynamite. Yes, and he was fun to be with, too.
But it was a great cast, you know. And every time Gable would say -- you know, he'd walk up and Jack Warden says, "Just follow me." And I'd follow whatever Jack did.
We'd come in the dressing room, you know, and Clark Gable was getting undressed and said -- and he said, "Look at his body! He's got a bad body." You know?
Gable would go, "You crazy cat. Those guys are crazy. They're making fun of my body here."
KING: Jack Warden was the judge in "And Justice for All" with Pacino.
KING: Great actor.
RICKLES: I love him. I love him to this day.
KING: And then, who could forget Clint Eastwood in Yugoslavia and what was the name of it? "Young Warriors"?
RICKLES: No. "Kelly's Heroes."
KING: "Kelly's Heroes."
RICKLES: We worked there for three weeks. We stayed there six months, and Clint was very busy, you know, directing, running. And a guy -- a guy -- that cast was so much fun.
Telly Savalas, rest his soul, who was a gem. Clint is the most darling guy in the world.
But Clint is the kind of guy I said -- he said, "Don, how do you want to live?"
Herb Solo at that time was the head of MGM. I said, "I want to live like Clint Eastwood." Did I know at that time Clint Eastwood, to him heaven was a truck, a dog and a picnic basket for food or something?
They lived like derelict til I got there. I said, "What is this."
He said, "Well, that's the way Clint lives."
I said, "I don't want to live like that." But I exaggerate.
But Clint -- always loved...
KING: I have a letter I have still saved you sent me from Yugoslavia.
RICKLES: Do you, really?
KING: And I'll never forget the first line. "Dear Larry, I'm in Yugoslavia making a movie. I don't want to say Yugoslavia's boring, but the fact that you're getting a letter from me tells you how boring it is."
And then you said, "Well, I don't want to say this is a poor country, but we couldn't go out last night. Tito has the car."
And Eastwood would hold up signs that say, "Good morning." Eastwood. I remember that.
RICKLES: Geez, we had...
KING: And Donald Sutherland.
RICKLES: Carroll O'Connor, rest his soul. He was so good in that. That's how Carroll and I became good friends.
KING: Why didn't you do, then, more of a film career?
RICKLES: I think -- and famous to the industry -- my image was so strong, and still, as a standup guy with what I do Larry, and you know. They say, "Insulting insulter." To this day, if I go to -- I'm going to Iowa. I'm billed. I'm going to work with a casino in Iowa. I say, because I've never been there.
But people now know, but when they first heard, the guy and the insult, they think it's some mean son-of-a-gun that's going to kill them. And I went, and what I do is exaggerate life and -- I don't have to apologize for it. But some people, when you get that word "insult," it was like some terrible guy.
And you know today I'm wealthier than you.
KING: Did anybody ever get really, no seriously. angry at you?
RICKLES: Larry, I'm sure they did.
KING: Did anyone ever come at you?
RICKLES: No, no.
KING: Never came up on the stage, never got...
RICKLES: No, no. I've had people annoyed at me, and I fought them. But I always had, when it came to those things, I always had a guardian angel with me. Called Tony or Arthuro or Frankie or Vinny.
Now I have a guy called Antonio. He's not a bodyguard. He's my road manager and my dear friend.
KING: Where is he when you're performing? Where is he standing?
RICKLES: Behind me with a gun.
KING: No, no, no.
We'll take a break and I'll be back with more of Don Rickles. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKLES: Is this too fast for you? The old man is right in the front going.
Hey, this is what you're going to hear, lady. If you're waiting for Billy Graham to come in and make your kid walk again, forget about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, you, I'm... RICKLES: Hey, hey, hey, get back, back, back, back!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't hurt her.
RICKLES: Don't get dramatic, nobody's going to get hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, Rob, I told you we shouldn't have come.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honey, don't be afraid. I know his kind.
RICKLES: What do you mean, my kind? What kind of crack is that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I didn't mean (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
RICKLES: Come on! Come on! Hand over you watches and rings. Step it up. Come on, come on, come on!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You haven't got a chance. People know this elevator's stopped.
RICKLES: I've got all the time I need. The average person pushes an elevator button 6 or 7 minutes before realizing it's not working. I did a study on this, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean, you've held up people in elevators before?
RICKLES: No, I held them up in front a police station, dumb, dumb.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's an early scene for you, right? That was Carson McCullers (ph).
RICKLES: Yes. That was before television.
KING: You had -- you had -- how old are you now?
KING: What a career. Do you ever think of just hanging it up?
RICKLES: Do you realize, Judy my wife wears. "What hanger?"
No, seriously, like -- Barbara, Barbara (ph), well, thank God. But that's not the point. The point is, they always say, doctors say it. People say it. You've heard it. I've heard you talking about it on the show, with Alzheimer's, God forbid.
They say when you stop, you know the mind gets a little tired. I was -- thank God my health, very good, thanks to my wife, Barbara. Really, she keeps after me.
As you do with Shawn. And I'm not making fun of you now, because I always rib you about your health and so forth. Because you had some tough times.
So it's all health, and -- and they show up. People still show up for me. And I still have it. I'm as fast as ever. I'm as quick as ever. I don't say this with -- egotistically. I know I'll know when, you know, the clock is a little slower.
And so I'm not even thinking about that. As long as I can work, and now I'm going to do this movie of the week. And it's -- it's a challenge. And it's great fun.
KING: It's still a hoot to go on stage?
RICKLES: It is. I think you -- because we both do it. The traveling, you know, the feeling -- but if you could bring the stage to my house, it would be marvelous.
I'm laying on the couch, and you know, they say, "What do you do for such and such." We go out to dinner with you and your lovely wife, go out with other people. Look, at night I'm laying on the couch, I'm watching sports, the Lakers and the Dodgers and...
KING: How much has Vegas changed?
RICKLES: Well, now it's all family oriented.
KING: Used to be dress up crowds?
RICKLES: Yes. Well, Florida was, in Miami, that way.
RICKLES: You couldn't show like I'm dressed now, could you? You don't wear a jacket. You don't have one. But anyway, there's a new thing I call a jacket. I'll get a pair, I swear to God. Of course, the suspenders, now what's happening since you've lost the weight, it looks like you've got shoulder pads on.
You see, wear this jacket. OK, work on your body.
KING: OK. All right.
RICKLES: You get any thinner, there's a bus leaving for Auschwitz, because they're reopening and making it a summer camp for people that have trouble with weight.
RICKLES: I took...
KING: Where were we?
RICKLES: We were talking about Auschwitz.
RICKLES: We were talking about is it a kick to work on the stage. Of course it is. And about retirement. No, thank God, unless you hear something. But I want to stay around and keep going, because Shawn has the job in November.
KING: Do you know before you go on that you have them?
RICKLES: No. Who knows even...
KING: You do have an edge. You're Don Rickles. They're there to see you.
RICKLES: Well, naturally.
KING: ... see you.
RICKLES: Yes. Same thing. Not only new. Well, it's the same thing -- not only new. I go back to do -- same thing with you. People know, when I say Larry King at CNN, they know you, God bless you.
They really -- and they turn you on because they know you. So I do have a reputation, and so when you go on the stage, but there's always, and I think you know that, there's always that little anxiety. There's always that little nervousness
KING: And so...
RICKLES: And we all -- I would say that about you, and I'm sure you'd say the same thing. Will they like this show? Let's hope they love it, you know.
Some nights I come off, and I know it's good but I say, "I couldn't do better." Couldn't do better.
KING: Do, you know right away if you have them?
RICKLES: Yes. Yes. Some nights, like in Florida, when I had the front row. The other night, you know, and I'm not a kid anymore, but they were spitting up, you know.
KING: When you get a really old...
RICKLES: And I said, "Good evening." And one guy went, "Aha!"
I said, "Oh, this could be a long night."
RICKLES: And I said, "Sir, why are you wearing that jacket?"
You know, I'm 77, so I can say that.
KING: Yes, I know.
RICKLES: But these guys are 74 and they look like they're 99, you know.
KING: So what do you do with a crowd? What do you do, just keep working? All you can be is all you can do.
RICKLES: That's what I'm best at. I talk about all of us, so it's -- go to your doctor, you know. Look, I'm afraid. Now you're sitting here wheezing and sweating like...
KING: You still keep moving. You listen. You go to the moment.
RICKLES: Yes. That's my secret.
KING: What did you make -- I'm all over the board with you tonight. What did you make of the Janet Jackson thing with Justin Timberlake?
RICKLES: No big deal. I mean...
KING: Didn't upset you? Didn't bother you?
RICKLES: Me? I worked in the strip joints where they took everything off and we stood there, with, "Yellows! Reds! Take it all!" In those days, you thought it was wild, right? With little pasties, and they're covered up, you know.
KING: You worked in bars?
RICKLES: But are you kidding? Wayne in Washington, D.C. Wayne Newton in Washington. Five girls, continuous show, three comics. Round and round and round.
I was the man with the glass head. Would you believe it? And the strippers are going around (singing). They'd say, "And now Don Rickles."
I'd come out and do Peter Lorrie. "My head! My head is burning!" And a shmuck (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but a man with a glass head. I was trying to be dramatic, and they're going, "Now, Rosina." Ba- boom, ba-boom. My head, my head was hurting. It was crazy.
KING: I'll name some people. We'll get your reaction. We always do this with Rickles. I'll just name them and we'll get your thoughts.
KING: That's the thought.
RICKLES: That's right. And we just did that. If you were listening, and you do. And I think I could do it because I love you. You know, I have the right, just to do this.
Larry King and to the little lawyers listening. Larry King is the kind of guy when you -- when I'm with him, and he's done this for 40 years, every time I see him, and I'm so amazed at him. Because he never went to Harvard, he never went to Yale. Never -- always well- read, studied, came up the hard way, education-wise.
But whenever we sat together, we'd get on television and I'd say, "Larry, I'm on."
"Mr. President. Your name (ph) is a terrible thing. And what do you think, sir? What do you think? Boom-boom-boom?"
Or "Prime Minister Boom-boom-boom," dissolve.
I'd say, "Larry, that was great." This is in Florida. "Why don't we get a corn beef sandwich. Maybe I'll have a cream soda."
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Don Rickles. We'll throw some names at him. What a man. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKLES: Ages 3 and up. It's on my box. Ages 3 and up. I'm not supposed to be babysitting Princess Drool.
Hey, ham. I'm Picasso.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't get it.
RICKLES: You uncultured swine. What are you looking at you hockey puck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKLES: Come on. They all know who you are. Take off the mask.
JOHN WAYNE, ACTOR: Well, OK.
RICKLES: It's John Wayne!
Duke, Duke! Can I call you Duke?
WAYNE: Please do.
RICKLES: OK, I will.
I never worked with a puppet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RICKLES: I hate to laugh at my own stuff here.
KING: No, that's funny.
OK, I'll just name some people, and you give me your thoughts.
George Bush, the current president.
RICKLES: Nice guy if you like cowboy music.
KING: OK. John Edwards.
RICKLES: Nice guy but should go to summer camp.
KING: John Kerry.
RICKLES: Nice guy, but he got out of the Army too fast.
KING: Everybody's a nice guy. Why are they all nice guys?
RICKLES: Because look, I'm not Bill Maher. I'm not looking for some kind of a war. I've got no problems.
KING: Sharon Stone.
RICKLES: Beautiful girl. Thirty years ago, me and her.
KING: De Niro.
RICKLES: Mumbler. Hate a mumbler. He mumbles, mumbles. "Blah, blah, blah."
"So Bob, how do you feel?"
"Blah, blah, blah."
Now I've got to act like a moron, got to pretend I understand him. Because he's a big star, big star.
KING: Did you like working with...
RICKLES: Oh, I loved him.
KING: ... in "Casino"? Did you like doing that movie?
RICKLES: It was great. Sure. Marty Scorcese. I was working with the best.
KING: Sammy Davis. Sammy Davis Jr.
RICKLES: Good tap dancer.
KING: We know that. But what do you have to say about Sammy?
RICKLES: What do I have to say? He was great, especially when you were on the train. "Cleveland!"
What else can I tell you? You want that kind of remark, right? I know you.
KING: There's some places I won't go.
RICKLES: And that's why you're pumping me. I said tap dancer. But you couldn't leave it alone. You had to make me say "Cleveland."
KING: No, no, no. It was funny, but...
RICKLES: Sure, now I get -- now the whole South will come to the house. So when it's dark, you're standing outside going, "Now Shawn, look at that. They're going to kill him."
KING: They understand you. Because they know you're secretly a lovable guy. So admit it tonight.
RICKLES: Can I tell you? Before the show's over, I'm going to break that finger. I really am. The other thumb is gone. I'm going to break the finger.
KING: Both thumbs. I got both thumbs.
RICKLES: What are you doing?
KING: I don't know. They're paper cuts.
RICKLES: You're taking guitar lessons, right?
RICKLES: Come on, let's get on with this thing here.
RICKLES: I'm finished.
KING: OK. So let's -- let's go over some things.
Perform -- You've been forever in the business. A new contract to perform in the Vegas at Stardust. My wife will be with you in November. You're there, like, four, five, six times a year.
RICKLES: That's right.
KING: Still do Atlantic City?
KING: Atlantic City, going to be at resorts in October, October 22. Got a new deal in resorts.
RICKLES: And then we're going to be in July with Joan Rivers and my dear friend, Joan and I at the convention center in July -- I don't know the exact date -- in Atlantic City. That's a show.
KING: In the convention center?
KING: That's a big house. You going to pack them in, Don?
RICKLES: Well, what? You're going to worry about me? No, you're going to be here going, "What do you think, Mr. Prime Minister?"
KING: What's the strangest town you've ever worked?
RICKLES: Here. The strangest?
KING: I mean, was there ever a town that...
RICKLES: Not Branson, but what's the town -- oh, gosh. Outside of Vegas.
KING: Begins with an "L."
RICKLES: Laughlin (ph).
KING: Laughlin (ph).
RICKLES: Strange. A lot of guys come in, "What time you go on? I hope, damn it! You're funny. We'll come out tomorrow in our RV and we're going to laugh our ass off. Are you funny?"
Right in the front. Two boils on each side of their neck. Checkered sweater. Fishing rod going, "I hope that Jew makes me laugh."
RICKLES: A wrestling match.
KING: OK. How are the Dodgers going to do?
RICKLES: The Dodgers, I say they're getting...
KING: Are they hitting?
RICKLES: If the Dodgers (ph) don't get a right-hand power hitter, the season will be over August 5. The Dodgers, they've got this new, wonderful young man. I hope he does great. Wish him luck. Frank McCourt (ph) seems to be a nice gentleman with his wife, Jamie.
I keep telling the wife and Jamie, she must take batting practice or something. They keep mentioning Jamie. I hope Jamie has something to say.
But they need a right-hand power hitter. Otherwise, the season's over. And Jim Tracy's a great manager. Nice organization.
KING: Why is there no NFL team in Los Angeles? I know how big a football fan you are.
RICKLES: Al Davis won't commit. No, Al is great. I love Al.
That's a good question, isn't it? Here we are, all of us big sportsmen. You know what I have to do now? Really. I watch every Sunday when the season's on. I'm a big NFL fan. I'm a Ram fan from the days when they were here. Of course, we don't have a team here. So I'm on the satellite every Sunday, no matter where we are, with the Rams. Turn on the satellite; got to watch the rams.
KING: Do you like hockey?
RICKLES: I used to when I was a kid. I used to watch the Rangers.
KING: The Rangers in New York?
RICKLES: I was a square guy. But back here, the Kings, they're a wonderful team. Good organization. But I never got into the swing of it.
Lakers, I get crazy with. Lakers...
KING: You are a Laker person?
RICKLES: Oh, yes. Lakers and Dodgers, yes. And Jerry Buss (ph) is a great guy.
KING: You used to call people hockey pucks. Remember that? That was famous.
RICKLES: That was -- and I, for the life of me, it was a throwaway line. To the best of my recollection, instead of saying, "You're a pain in the ass" or something, I'd say, "Don't be a hockey puck."
KING: Right. That caught on.
RICKLES: Yes, and I've got a garage full of hockey pucks.
RICKLES: With a dead goalie on the hook.
KING: We love you, Don.
RICKLES: I love you, too, Larry. Thanks for the...
KING: Don Rickles. You can truly say one of a kind. You are one of a kind.
RICKLES: So are you, babe.
KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. See you tomorrow night. Good night.
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