We're finishing off our week-long salute to the late Don Rickles with a look at how he was portrayed in an alternate fictional universe - the world of Comic Books...... By the way, if you thought I was going to put these pages into some kind of linear order, then you really are a bunch of hockey pucks!
And good night and may God bless, Mr. Rickles.....
This past Friday, I inducted Don Rickles into the Television Crossover Hall of Fame in memory of his passing. And now that he's in the Hall, he's in good company with other members of the League Of Themselves......
Here are just a few:
Here's Don on the 'Tonight' show, one of those times when he was hosting. His guests are Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Bob was inducted as the Christmas entry in what I call the "Proto-Hall", before the TVXOHOF actually existed. Bing isn't a member, but I have a feeling that he does qualify, especially with any references to him without actually appearing.
Don as a guest on 'Tonight' with Frank Sinatra and host Johnny Carson. Old Blue Eyes was added to the Hall of Fame on the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2015. A year after his death, Carson was "honored" with his induction in January of 2007.
Don is seen here with Sammy Davis, Jr., who was inducted in February of 2001 to mark Black History Month for that year.
I chose March of 2011 to induct Joan Rivers as a tip of the hat to her directorial effort "Rabbit Test". ("Rabbit Test"... "March Hare".... I regret nothing!)
Bob Costas was inducted with Jim McKay as Toobworld Central's salute to the Olympics in the year of Duos, March 2002.
Walter Cronkite did more than just the news; he even hosted a game show. The Most Trusted Man In America was inducted in November of 2001.
Don Rickles doing a comedy sketch with fellow TVXOHOF members Dean Martin (December 2016) and Roy Rogers (inducted with his wife Dale Evans in May of 2002).
Howard Cosell isn't a member yet, but the day will come. Milton Berle was inducted in May of 2003.
Betty White was inducted on the occasion of her birthday in 2008; I think it was her 85th? But the rate she's going, I could have waited until the 95th, maybe even the 100th!
Don Rickles looks like he's ready to take a snooze with "Cousin" Conan. Conan O'Brien's cartoon version was inducted on my birthday last year.
Danny Thomas was the first new member of last year's theme for the League of Themselves.
Phyllis Diller was also inducted right after she passed away (2012)
Aside from the late night talk shows, I think Dean Martin's Comedy Roasts was his best venue for his barbs.
Don Rickles guesting on 'Tonight' with Johnny's successor, Jay Leno. Leno was NBC's biggest cheerleader which helped him expand his credentials for the TVXOHOF. (January, 2010)
John Stamos was a special Honors entry into the Hall. And all because of one Oikos commercial. (March, 2014)
Steve Lawrence was inducted along with his late wife Eydie Gorme, days after her passing. (2013)
Tony Bennett was inducted last year on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
In a way, Garner is in the Hall twice. Once as Bret Maverick, but as himself after he died. (2014)
If Joey does get into the Hall, it will be as his character of Joey Barnes who had plenty of celebrities on his late night talk show as themselves. But Jack Benny was also a "Proto-Hall" member. He's perhaps the one "televersion" who had a well-developed fictional persona in Toobworld.
Don doing what he does best - sitting on the dais of a Dean Martin Comedy Roast, this time for Lucille Ball. Lucy was inducted as herself in April of 2000, while her three most famous fictional incarnations preceded her in the first three months of that year.
George Burns was one of the seminal inductees into the "Proto-Hall". As a matter of fact, he was the first one inducted.
I think it will take a while longer for people to feel the full loss of seeing "Mr. Warmth" on late night. But he is immortalized at his venomous best for future generations to enjoy......
When a celebrity plays himself in a TV show, there will always be differences between their true self and their televersion. Just by virtue of the fact that they're interacting with fictional people makes them different. But there have been some notable differences over the years. Here's a Super Six list of some of them:
Vera Gorman was related to Art Carney. ('Alice')
Vincent Chase had a relationship with Mandy Moore. ('Entourage')
Not to be outdone, Larry Sanders had sex with Roseanne Barr and Ellen DeGeneres. ('The Larry Sanders Show')
Willy Mays is a warlock. ('Bewitched')
Dennis Rodman is an extraterrestrial. ('Third Rock From The Sun')
Dick Van Patten died years before he did in the real world. ('Cybil')
Speaking of that last one, we've been saluting the late Don Rickles all week, so as you can imagine, there was a major difference between the Rickles of the Trueniverse and his cathode counterpart.
It was reported after he died that the last tweet ever sent out by the Merchant of Venom was a sweet and loving tribute to Barbara, his wife of more than fifty years. She and their daughter Mindy survive him and he was predeceased by their son Larry.
However, in Earth Prime-Time, Barbara Sklar Rickles died before Don, at some point before 2002.
'THE BERNIE MAC SHOW'
"THE SWEET LIFE"
Don is listed in the IMDb credits for this episode as playing himself. He was addressed as Don and acted like a milder version of himself, throwing most of his zingers at Bernie Mac (also playing himself) under his breath.
But when they were at a graveside service for a friend of his who had died during their weekly poker game, Don became lost in his memories of his late wife. He even began to talk to her as if she was there, telling her that he would be reunited with her soon. (In Toobworld, they had been together for 60 years whereas in the real world, it had been for about 52.)
Barbara Rickles only made a handful of appearances on TV, mostly in reality/variety programs like the documentary on her husband, a tribute to him on 'This Is Your Life' and a celebration of George Burns' career in show business. So she didn't have much of an impact on Toobworld save for the devotion bestowed on her by her husband - whenever Rickles was on a talk show, he invariably sang her praises.
But there's another way to read this. Even though Rickles was living across the street from Bernie Mac, the two comics may not have had much interaction in the neighborhood before this episode. It could be that Bernie, caught up as he was in his own life (especially being a serlinguist talking to the Trueniverse audience), may not ever have noticed Barbara Rickles across the street.
It could be that she was still alive and Don was just goofing on him at the cemetery.
There's yet another way we can interpret this appearance: this wasn't Don Rickles.
Not once during the episode was his last name ever mentioned. So perhaps it was Don Rickles playing another character named Don.
It can't be Don Prince, the character he played in the 'Newhart' episode "The Nice Man Cometh", because that was part of Dr. Bob Hartley's dream. More than likely the inspiration for TV star Don Prince was Rickles himself, whom Bob would often see on the 'Tonight' show while in bed with his wife Emily.
But it could be he was actually Don Robinson, the New York advertising executive whose life was upended by the encroachment of computers into modern society. Robinson's wife was named Barbara as well (not that it was ever mentioned in the "Bernie Mac" episode) and she was played by Louise Sorel. Perhaps she passed away and so Don retired from the rat race of Madison Avenue and moved to Beverly... Hills, that is. Or wherever the hell it was in the general LA area where they lived.
I could go either way on this, but I prefer to think Don Rickles was appearing on 'The Berni Mac Show' as himself. Sorry about where that leaves you, Mrs. Rickles......
Click here to check out a clip of Don Rickles with Lucille Carmichael and Mr. Mooney. But he was playing Eddie Rickles, not Don Rickles.
Plenty of fictional Toobworld citizens are related to the televersions of people from the Real World:
Detective Megan Russert & Tim Russert ('Homicide: Life On The Street')
Vera Louise Gorman & Art Carney ('Alice')
Sammy & Bryant Gumbel ('The Nanny')
Little Jimmy & Nat "King" Cole ('The Jack Benny Program')
Sherlock Holmes & Horace Vernet ("The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter")
And of course, Identical Cousins are an established fact in Toobworld.
So I have no problem with the idea that Don Rickles played an ex-boxer named Eddie Rickles in "Lucy The Fight Manager", an episode of 'The Lucy Show'. I accept the fact that Eddie was the identical cousin of Don's televersion.
Whenever I come up with a theory of relateeveety, I need to make it interesting - at least to me. (I apologize if you find them boring.) There has to be more for me to claim two unrelated characters from different shows could be identical twins or at least identical cousins. For instance, the fact that David Lipman played Judge Morris Turledsky on 'Law & Order' and 'Trial By Jury' at the same time as he was playing Judge Arthur Cohen in 'Special Victims Unit' should have been a Zonk. Had he only appeared in one 'SVU' episode, I would have just claimed that Judge Turledsky forgot to remove the name plaque for Judge Cohen. But Cohen was in eleven episodes while Turledsky was in 26 episodes of the "mothership" and in two more for 'Trial By Jury'.
So I came up with the theory of relateeveety that when they were just babies, Morris and Arthur were separated due to their parents' divorce with one going to be raised by the mother and the other by the father. Eventually, the mother remarried and she had her son's last name legally changed. And I liked the idea that despite being raised apart from each other, both Morris and Arthur followed a similar career path to become Manhattan jurists.
Don Rickles passed away the other day. He had been a big influence on me and one of my favorite comics. And so I was glad to "immortalize" him in the Toobworld Dynamic with membership in the Television Crossover Hall of Fame.
But I still wanted to do more. And that's why I came up with this theory of "relateeveety".
LYLE DELP & SID KRIMM
As I mentioned, I needed to find something more to make it interesting for me. I could have chosen any combination of Rickles' other characters in TV shows to claim as being identical "cousins". But the reason I picked Lyle and Sid was because they each appeared in two episodes of their respective sitcoms. Lyle Delp with 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' ("4½" and "The Alan Brady Show Goes To Jail") and Sid Krimm in 'Get Smart' ("The Little Black Book Parts 1 & 2").
Unlike the example of Morris Turledsky and Arthur Cohen, I think Lyle and Sid were identical "cousins". Identical cousins are an accepted splainin for characters who resembled each other (because of them being played by the same actor in the real world. Duh.)
You may have noticed that when talking about the case of Sid Krimm and Lyle Delp, I used asterisks for the word "cousins". And that's because they weren't actually cousins in the sense that Patty and Cathy Lane were. Instead, they were half-brothers, sharing the same father but having different mothers. Their father, whose name we don't know, had affairs with two women back in 1926, one named Krimm and the other Delp. (I don't know if either of those women were married or not when they had their affairs.)
As with Morris and Arthur, I didn't want to choose one over the other as carrying on the family name. So I don't think either Sid or Lyle were raised by their common father. Their father may not ever have married. (Or I can press my luck and claim that he sired yet another TV character who resembled Don Rickles.)
I doubt Lyle and Sid even knew each other, let alone knew that they were brothers.
But I will make another claim of "relateeveety" thanks to tele-genetics. Whoever their birth father was, I think Sid and Lyle's great-grandfather was Azmodeus, the notorious dabbler in the black arts in Washington D.C. back in the 1870s. And what his real name was, I have no clue.
As the Trickster once said, "Reality is boring, that's why I change it whenever I can."
I'm just "The Man Who Viewed Too Much", and "Inner Toob" is a blog exploring and celebrating the 'reality' of an alternate universe in which everything that ever happened on TV actually takes place.
Most of my theories about the TV Universe come from thinking inside the box and thus can't be proven. But I've never been one to shy away from a tall tale.....
Remember: "The more you watch, the more you've seen!"