Don Rickles: Merchant of Venom Hardcover by Michael Seth Starr

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Don Rickles: Merchant of Venom Hardcover by Michael Seth Starr

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Product Details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Citadel (Oct. 25 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0806541725
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 9780806541723
  • Item weight ‏ : ‎ 567 g
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.95 x 3.1 x 23.6 cm

The first comprehensive biography of Don Rickles, the king of insult comedy and honorary rat pack member whose career spanned decades and influenced generations of comedians, written by New York Post television editor and celebrity biographer Michael Starr.

Riding a wave of success that lasted more than sixty years, Don Rickles is best known as the “insult” comic who skewered presidents, royalty, celebrities, and friends and fans alike. But there was more to “Mr. Warmth” than a devilish ear-to-ear grin and lightning-fast put-downs. Rickles was a loving husband, an adoring father who suffered a devastating loss, and a loyal friend to the likes of Bob Newhart and Frank Sinatra. Don was also a young student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts with future stars Jason Robards, Jr., Don Murray, and Grace Kelly, and intended to become a seriously committed actor. But it was in small nightclubs where Rickles found success, steamrolling hecklers, honing his acerbic put-downs, and teaching the world to love being insulted. Sex, race, religion, nationality, physical appearance, political leanings—nothing and no one was safe from the “Planned Parenthood Poster Boy,” as Johnny Carson referred to him.

The Merchant of Venom traces Don Rickles’ career from his rise in the 1950s to a late-in-life resurgence thanks to the Toy Story franchise, his role in Martin Scorsese’s Casino, and scores of TV appearances from Carson to Seth Meyers. In the intervening decades, Rickles conquered every medium he worked in, including film, television, and on stage, where the Vegas legend was still performing at the age of eighty-five. In his highly memorable career, he was idolized by a generation of younger comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Jay Leno, and performed in the shadow of a shocking open secret: he was the nicest man in town.

An in-depth portrait of the personal and singular professional life of Don Rickles, The Merchant of Venom delivers a hilarious, moving, and long-overdue look at the real man behind the sting.

About Author

Michael Seth Starr has covered television at The New York Post as a reporter, critic, columnist, and editor since 1995. He has written critically acclaimed biographies of Art Carney, Joey Bishop, Bobby Darin, Raymond Burr, Redd Foxx, Ringo Starr, and William Shatner, as well as a filmography of Peter Sellers. Starr has appeared frequently on national television on many shows including The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, The Early Show, Rachael Ray, The Talk, and Entertainment Tonight. He lives in New Jersey and can be found online at

Author Residence: New York City

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