Don Rickles

An insult-slinging comedian whose acerbic wit helped brand him ''The Merchant of Venom,'' among other endearing titles, Don Rickles was born in New York City on May 8, 1926. He launched his career in radio, but quickly found a home on the stand-up circuit, gradually adapting his act to heckle the audience instead of the other way around.

No one was safe at a Rickles show -- not even Frank Sinatra, who was so floored by the insults Rickles hurled his way that he helped promote his act. But Rickles was more than a run-of-the-mill funnyman. He also studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and appeared in many movies, including the military drama Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), Martin Scorsese's Casino (1995) and the Toy Story franchise.

In 2008, Rickles won his first Emmy Award for his performance in the career-capping John Landis documentary, Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project.