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Short Synopsis
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.

Full Synopsis
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. 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's 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. 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.

Don Rickles

The Merchant of Venom

Author Michael Seth Starr

Narrated by Johnny Heller

Publication date Oct 25, 2022

Running time 10 hrs

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