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Martin Scorsese Pays Tribute to Don Rickles: ‘He’s Irreplaceable’

”Don Rickles was a giant, a legend…and I can hear his voice now, skewering me for being so lofty,“ director says

Martin Scorsese has spoken out in the wake of the death of legendary comedian Don Rickles, paying tribute to his “Casino” star.

“Don Rickles was a giant, a legend…and I can hear his voice now, skewering me for being so lofty. I had the honor of working with him on my picture ‘Casino,'” Scorsese said in a statement Thursday.

Rickles played casino manager Billy Sherbert, who worked with Robert De Niro’s character Sam Rothstein, in Scorsese’s 1995 film.

“We became friends over the years and I had the honor of being roasted by him more than once – sometimes when I didn’t expect it,” the director continued. “He just started showing up at places and insulting me.”

Rickles, who would have turned 91 on May 8, is survived by his wife of 52 years, Barbara, as well as their daughter Mindy Mann and her husband Ed, and Rickles’ two grandchildren, Ethan and Harrison Mann. Funeral services will be private.

In lieu of flowers, his publicist suggested that donations be made to the Larry Rickles Endowment Fund at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

See Scorsese’s full statement below.

“Don Rickles was a giant, a legend…and I can hear his voice now, skewering me for being so lofty. I had the honor of working with him on my picture Casino. He was a professional. He kept me doubled over with laughter every day on the set – yet he was a complete pro. We became friends over the years and I had the honor of being roasted by him more than once – sometimes when I didn’t expect it. He just started showing up at places and insulting me. Experiencing Don, and tuning into his mind, I witnessed the evolution of his comedy. It was like listening to a great jazz musician wail. Nobody else did what he did. He made comedy into an art form. And like all geniuses, comic or otherwise, he’s irreplaceable. He was much loved. I’m really missing this man.”