Barbara Rickles, Comedian’s Wife and Target, Dies at 84

Barbara Rickles, the widow of the comedian Don Rickles and a fictionalized target of his comic insults, died on Sunday, which would have been their 56th wedding anniversary, at her home in Los Angeles. She was 84.

A spokesman, Paul Shefrin, said the cause was non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

“They were incredibly devoted to each other,” Mr. Shefrin wrote on his Facebook page. “She was the perfect woman for Don and vice versa.”

A native of Philadelphia, Barbara Sklar met her future husband through his film agent, for whom she worked briefly. They married on March 14, 1965.

By many accounts, the Rickleses had one of the happiest marriages in show business. They socialized often with another enduring Hollywood couple, Bob and Ginny Newhart. Don Rickles died at 90 in 2017.

Barbara Rickles helped produce the Emmy-winning documentary “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project” (2007) and the 2020 release “Don Rickles Live in Concert.” Don Rickles, in serious moments, would note that he was nearly 40 on his wedding day and had struggled for years to find someone.

“I advise any young person that gets married, really, work at it. If you work at it, it’s delightful,” he said in 1986, during one of his many appearances on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, whom he would tease endlessly about his multiple marriages.

Mr. Rickles told a different story when he was in his better known “Mr. Warmth” persona. For decades he cracked jokes about his wife’s looks, about their sex life, about her supposed love of jewelry. When he appeared with Frank Sinatra on “Tonight” in 1976, he begged Sinatra to set him up with someone.

“I need a girl so bad,” he said in mock despair. “I love my wife, but she’s ill.”

The Rickleses had two children: Mindy Rickles, an actor and comedian, and Larry Rickles, a screenwriter and producer who died in 2011 at 41. Ms. Rickles is survived by her daughter and grandchildren.

Near the end of his life, Mr. Rickles was filmed reminiscing with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, with whom he worked on the 1995 film “Casino.” The conversation turned to marriage.

“You’re married again, right? You’re happy?” Mr. Rickles said to Mr. Scorsese.

“Yeah, been married 20 years,” Mr. Scorsese said.

“I’m married to Barbara — which is a mistake,” Mr. Rickles responded. “Nah, that’s a joke. She’ll hear it and say, ‘That’s not funny.’”

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