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Unlucky break sidelines comedy legend Shecky Greene

By Norm Clarke  (VSiN Columnist) 

May 8, 2017 01:55 AM

Comedy legend Shecky Greene, who broke his right leg March 22, said he’s got to wait six weeks for another surgery.

Greene said he got “the bad news the other day. When you break something at 91 it’s not a good thing.”

He turned 91 on April 8. He was on his way out of the Italian American Club when “someone said, ‘do something.’ I was going to do a hello and goodbye.’”

As he grabbed the mic while attempting to step on the tiny stage, he lost his balance and fell.

“I need another six weeks before I can put my foot down,” he said.

It’s not the first time he’s broken bones. “I have a prosthesis in my knee, in my back and my hip. I’ve broken things,” he said.

His last performance at a major venue was April 3, 2016 during “Conversations with Norm” at Cabaret Jazz in the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

Rickles had a perfect ending in mind

What drove Don Rickles back to the stage, after nearly having his legs amputated in recent years?

Dana Stern, who worked with Rickles for about 12 years as the Golden Nugget’s entertainment manager, said the comedy great not only wanted to live until 100, like George Burns, but he had the perfect ending in mind.

“He wanted to die on stage,” said Stern. “He said ‘nothing would make me happier.’”

Rickles, who died April 6, would have turned 91 today. His death certificate said he died of kidney failure and he was suffering from hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

Rickles spent 74 years in entertainment; Burns 75. He turned 100 in 1996 and continued to work until just weeks before his death of cardiac arrest at his home in Beverly Hills.

A serious health scare about four years ago slowed but didn’t stop Rickles. He underwent multiple surgeries – about eight within a year, according to Stern – when a flesh-eating disease known as necrotizing fasciitis attacked his right leg.

Rickles spent six weeks in a hospital and had to learn to walk after his leg muscles atrophied. After that he used a cane, a stool on the stage and a wheelchair.

Every time Rickles arrived at the Golden Nugget, “I met him at the Porte Cachere,” said Stern.

After years at other properties, Rickles returned to the Golden Nugget in the early 2000s.

Stern had a surprise for Rickles.

She walked into his dressing room with her son, Brent, who was about 6. Rickles had set her up on dates a number of times. “He had become Uncle Don,” she said.

“He said, ‘Who is this fine young man?’”

Rickles, who was known as the merciless “Merchant of Venom,” was near tears, she said.

“He sat my son down and said ‘I love your mom. You need to take care of her.’”

Her son felt such a connection to Rickles that he “wrote papers about him for school,” said Stern.

“The cute thing was, he did a lovely piece on Don and got an A or A-plus. I told him he should show it to Don. So we’re backstage after Don’s performance and Brent showed him the paper.”

John Stamos, a regular at Rickles’ shows, snapped a photo of the big moment.

“My son says that’s the most prized possession because he has a picture with Don Rickles and John Stamos took the photo.”

On this day…

May 8, 1967: Ann-Margaret, who was discovered by comedian George Burns in Las Vegas and starred with Elvis Presley in “Viva Las Vegas,” marries Roger Smith at the Riviera Hotel. One week earlier Elvis had married Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin.

May 9, 1959: Wayne Newton, a 16-year-old singer from Phoenix, makes his Las Vegas debut at the Flamingo Hotel with his older brother Jerry. Their two-week gig lasts three years, launches Wayne’s career as one of the city’s most popular headliners.

Sightings

Comedian Dave Chappelle, with a group that included Eddie Griffin, dined at Beauty & Essex (Cosmopolitan) on Friday night.

The punch line

“Another word being added dictionary.com is ‘man bun.’ Hopefully the dictionary is the last place where we’ll ever see another man bun.” – James Corden.

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