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Rickles and Newharts had a magical friendship

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is Bob Newhart:

“Someone called me and said, ‘Look, Don Rickles is calling his best friend… and none of us want to do that.’ ‘Can you do it?’

“And I said, ‘How long will it take?’ I said.

They said, ‘One year at most’.”

Bob Newhart and Don Rickles have been friends for nearly 60 years, and the unlikely duo, including the joke above, is reflected in the latest film from Judd Apatow, the acclaimed director/producer of hits like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” ” and “The King of Staten Island” and TV’s “Freaks and Geeks.”

The name of this movie, co-directed by Michael Bonfiglio “Bob and Don: A Love Story.” It’s only 20 minutes long and won’t play in theaters or on any streaming services. However, it appears on The New Yorker magazine’s website along with the fine. story Written by Bruce Handy, in which Apatow tells him: “I don’t think there are two comedians that most comedians like more than Don Rickles and Bob Newhart. They are completely likable characters. “You might not notice it on the surface, but the impact it has on people trying to be funny is profound.”

“Bob and Don: A Love Story” is definitely one of the best movies of this year, or any year; is a loving and admirable film that entertainingly uses archival footage, home movies, selected performance pieces and interviews to tell its story. It was taken after their death Don Rickles (in 2017) and his wife, Barbara (2021), includes recent interviews with both the Newharts, Bob and Ginnie. Kids Mindy Rickles and Tim Newhart offer fascinating anecdotes and insightful observations.

There are numerous examples of the two men’s wildly different styles. Even those too young to have seen, watched, and laughed with Newhart and Rickles in their prime will enjoy these clips, likely diving deep into the hundreds of internet repositories from their long careers.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is Don Rickles explaining the difference between his and Newhart’s comedic styles:

“Well yeah. Bob’s a smart comedian and I’m the laughing kind of guy.”

newhartBorn and raised in Chicago, he was a huge star from the start. His first comedy album, “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” basically a series of monologues in which he plays a straight man talking to an unheard-of person on the phone, was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard album charts. This quickly led to nightclub shows starting at Mister Kelly’s, the legendary Rush Street spot, Las Vegas shows, and two of the most popular sitcoms in television history.

Rickles, a Queens, New York native, had a rocky road; As he climbed through tough and abrasive clubs with what was called “insult comedy”, he prowled through stages addressing audiences derogatorily, making fun of their clothing, appearance or ethnicity. In a career filled with memorable film roles (as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in “Casino” and “Toy Story”) and a string of famous actors, he would become a favorite guest on the late-night talk show circuit. Failed TV ventures.

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s an old Bob Newhart joke from this movie:

“Don hasn’t had much success on television. There are currently four series.

“The last one, a couple of Dons, got a minus-four Nielsen rating. “That doesn’t mean no one is watching, it just means that a lot of people who don’t have television have heard of the show and said they wouldn’t watch it if there was one.”

Newhart and his wife, Virginia “Ginnie”, first met Don and Barbara Rickles in the early 1960s, when both men were performing in Las Vegas, Newhart in the main showrooms and Rickles in smaller venues. But they got together and spent a lot of time together over the next decades, often traveling around the world for vacations.

Although he does not appear in this film, Rickles once said: Variation, “We are apples and oranges. I am a Jew, he is a Catholic. He’s humble, I’m loud. But we share the same values; marriage, children and grandchildren. We have traveled all over the world with our spouses and have never had a serious argument during that time. There is so much going on, so much sadness. But we can laugh together.”

Following Rickles’ death, Newhart told an interviewer: “He made me laugh, and I made him laugh. We never delved too deeply into why friendship worked – it just did… He was called the Poison Merchant, but the truth was that he was a very kind man. “Don didn’t have a bad bone in his body.”

As lively and laughter-filled as this movie is, it can’t escape the shadow of the inevitable. Ginnie breaks down in tears as she talks about her friend Barbara’s death in 2021. Ginny He died in April this year. Although he moves cautiously, Bob Newhart, in his 94th year, appears to have a remarkably healthy mind, humor and heart.

Here is Bob Newhart, ladies and gentlemen:

“I wish everyone had the friendship that Ginnie and I have and Barbara and Don have.

He, he made me laugh. I made him laugh. And we miss them, you know?”

rkogan@chicagotribune.com

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