Legendary comedian Don Rickles has died at the age of 90. Rickles entertained millions on screen for over 60 years, but what was the last performance he gave before he died? And do we have any posthumous Rickles films to look forward to?
The last performance Don Rickles ever gave was in the Toy Story short Toy Story That Time Forgot. This was a Toy Story Christmas special produced specifically for ABC, and it aired in December 2014. In it, Rickles reprises his character of Mr. Potato Head, but he does not have a very significant part in the story.
Before this, Rickles also played Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story shorts Partysaurus Rex and Toy Story of Terror.
However, Rickles’ final on-screen performance was on the TV Land sitcom Hot in Cleveland. In two episodes of the show, Rickles plays the husband of Betty White’s character, Elka; it was previously thought that this character was dead, but it is revealed that he actually faked his death. Rickles was in Season 2 Episode 22, “Elka’s Wedding,” and then Season 3 Episode 1, “Elka’s Choice.”
The only movie that Don Rickles was set to star in that is not yet out is Toy Story 4. Rickles was to reprise his role as Mr. Potato Head. However, it seems that Disney will likely have to recast the part. After all, the movie does not come out until June 2019, and so the dialogue would not be complete yet.
Tom Hanks did say in a November 2015 interview on the Graham Norton show, “We’re now recording Toy Story 4.” However, he later clarified that this is a lengthy process in which the actors come in every six months or so to record more lines, and so this process would have still been going on when Rickles died.
“Now they just show us the stuff that we’re in, and keep everything else top secret,” Hanks said in 2016, according to Yahoo. “So I’ve gone along, I’ve worked alone and with Annie Potts – who plays Bo Peep – and the thing is, animated movies take about three and a half years to make. You go in about every six months and do a little bit work.“
It seems, then, that the best case scenario is that Disney might have some but not all of Don Rickles’ Toy Story 4 dialogue to work with, and so they could choose to either do what they can with those lines, or simply recast the character.
There is precedent for this in the Toy Story franchise, as Jim Varney, the voice of Slinky Dog, died before Toy Story 3, and a different actor was therefore cast as the character.