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Friday, June 20, 2014

A Nice Guy.

I just finished watching "An All-Star Salute To Don Rickles", which I had Tivoed a couple of weeks ago, and, in all honesty, had rather dreaded watching.
I've mentioned here on a couple of occasions in the past that I'm not really a fan of Mr. Rickles' current work.
His act now consists of this very old stooped-over major star, singing a piece of special material for the first twenty minutes or so called "I'm a Nice Guy", in a very embarrassing fashion, then segueing into picking on poor defenseless tourists for the next two hours.
It seems longer.
In the early days with Rickles, when he worked the lounge at the Sahara, he was undoubtedly very funny picking on drunks his own size.
And on TV, he has always been hilarious picking on the Talk Show hosts, or with Dean Martin, where he'd pick on the likes of Jimmy Stewart or John Wayne.
So why did I Tivo this show?
And why did I watch this show?
Because appearing on it were some really great comedians, led by Jerry Seinfeld, who hosted, also Jon Stewart, and David Letterman, who closed the show.
I sort of knew what to expect, and I got what I expected, so I should have known better.
They all laid down and played dead for him, treating him like a living legend and an unmatched comedy icon.
These comedians genuinely seem to think that Rickles is that great.
And that offstage, he's one of the sweetest human beings who ever walked the planet.
A genuinely nice guy.
Maybe if they had witnessed what I had witnessed, that latter element might have disintegrated for them.
I was in Las Vegas, staying at the MGM Grand, high-rolling enough to get comped for meals and shows.
Rickles was headlining there.
I had seen him twice before and was severely disappointed in what I saw.
And thrilled that I wasn't sitting close enough to the stage to be turned into a target for him.
Much was made by the comedians at this "Salute" about how people feel "honored" to be insulted by him.
I always felt relieved that I wasn't.
He would also call people up on stage to humiliate them on an extended basis.
That's usually when I walked out.
Free or not.
But I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and go again, figuring that maybe the third time would be the charm.
After all, it was still free.
So I go.
The lights go down.
We hear an announcer's voice---"Ladies and gentlemen, the MGM Grand is proud to present, Miss Lorna Luft".
I am simultaneously delighted and confused at the same time.
There had been no indication that there would be an opening act of any kind, much less one of Ms. Luft's stature and talent.
Nothing on the marquee.
Nothing on the signs near the ticket windows.
I'm sure that's the way she wanted it.
Aren't you?
And she did about forty-five minutes, and was great.
Already, I was ahead of the game.
But questions filled my head.
Why weren't we informed that Ms. Luft was opening for Rickles?
This was bad show business.
And when Rickles came on, he made no acknowledgment that Ms. Luft had been on the premises, much less that she was wonderful.
It's hard enough being Judy Garland's daughter and Liza Minnelli's sister without Rickles slapping her in the face in public like that.
So, "Nice Guy"?
A myth.
And then, he came on and did his usual hockey puck crap, and I left earlier than even I had scheduled.  


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:



  1. I've always heard the same about Rickles - nice guy. Got to interview him once on a radio show and he wasn't nice or not nice, just very aloof and in a hurry for the interview to be over. I also got to interview a few of his co-stars from his myriad failed sitcoms and one, who shall remain nameless said, "That my friend, is a book in and of itself. I take the 5th." I'd love to hear Erin Moran's take on Rickles - she played his daughter on CBS' THE DON RICKLES SHOW in 1972.

  2. Well, I'm a fan of Don Rickles, but not really surprised that the "nice guy off stage' may just be the usual PR crap. What's always intrigued me though is his legendary (because it's been noted so much) friendship with Bob Newhart. They seem like such an odd couple. Not just because one seems mild-mannered and the other not. Their comedy is so different. I think Rickles is basically Borsht Belt, at least in spirit, whereas Newhart's more intellectual. You'd think he'd be friends with Mort Sahl or somebody like that.

  3. That's all ya got, Mark? You're reaching...

  4. Whattya want me to do? Drop my pants and fire a rocket??!!

  5. If you do, please don't post it on You Tube.

  6. You might be qualified to receive a Apple iPhone 7.

  7. You could be qualified for a complimentary $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."