(Comedian Don Rickles died on April 6, 2017 at the age of 90. The following interview appeared in the August 2007 issue of GOLF magazine.)
Don, great talking to you.
You’re a sweetheart. Can we get this over with?
How’s your golf game?
I haven’t played in a while. I loved it, but I was never very good. I always got tense in front of large groups. I once played a charity event with Bob Hope. Everybody’s watching me. I’m scared to death. I swing on the first tee and pop it straight up in the air, so I take off my cap, run under the ball like a baseball player, and shout, “I got it! I got it!” Hope says, “Don, take this seriously! “The lesson: When you hit a bad shot, pretend you meant to.
So you didn’t respond well to pressure?
I’d go brain dead. I once missed a putt from three inches. Three inches!
What was scarier: a slippery putt or Sinatra on a bad day?
Frank was moody. You didn’t want to get on his bad side. He knew people. Say the wrong word and you end up in the river. But a lovely man!
Your memoirs just came out, with a catchy title: Rickles’ Book. Why should our readers buy it?
Because I’m talking to you. Isn’t that punishment enough? No, I’m kidding. You seem nice. [Coughs.]
Did you like to play for money?
That never ended well, at least not for me. Once in Palm Springs I teamed up with Evel Knievel. Evel says, “Let’s bet a thousand!” I said, “No way. How about $50?” I hit some good shots but then I collapse. Evel’s pressuring me, saying, “Don, I got big money on this. You’d better start hitting the ball! “That made it worse. Then he stops talking to me—doesn’t say another word. I play even worse. We lose. After the round, I see him grinning. Someone’s handing him a big wad of cash. I say, “How’d you win that?” Evel says, “Don, I put a side bet on you to lose, and I knew you’d come through for me!”