Friend and colleague of the late comedian pays tribute with an emotional statement.

By Joey Nolfi
April 10, 2017 at 04:15 PM EDT
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Kathy Griffin has forged a storied career telling hilarious stories about her run-ins with the Hollywood elite, and some of her most endearing interactions come from her work with late comedian Don Rickles. Now, four days after his death, Griffin is sending him off with a sweet tribute that acknowledges his status as not only a friend and esteemed colleague, but an industry legend as well.

“We have lost an essential voice in comedy. Don was fearless and peerless. Anyone who thought he was mean or an ‘insult comic’ didn’t get him,” the 56-year-old said in a statement to EW. “He was a sweetheart, an artist, and a friend. And oh, the gems that would roll off his tongue at a dinner party!”

Griffin previously allowed audiences to experience the chemistry she shared with Rickles while filming a 2010 episode of her Bravo reality series Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List titled “Maggie’s Bucket List,” during which she surprised her mother with an unexpected visit from the former Tonight Show staple.

“He is inherently funny. He can say things that on paper might look offensive, but when he says them, they’re funny,” Griffin said in a video confessional on the episode. “Stylistically, he’s absolutely a hero for me because he has a great way of saying the things we’re all thinking, but really getting away with it. There’s something about Don’s way of being a combination of crusty and out there and outrageous, but really, really sweet. He really reminds me of my dad.”

Two years prior, the pair took the stage together at the 60th Emmy Awards to present the trophy for Outstanding Reality Competition Program. Rickles turned the appearance into a mini stand-up set of his own, cracking the audience up as he poked fun at everything from the telecast’s prewritten introductions to the show’s production staff signaling him to wrap up.

Griffin has also included Rickles in her stand-up act over the years, recalling a memorable story about him lampooning his Casino costar, Sharon Stone, as part of the 2010 special Kathy Griffin Does the Bible Belt.

Following Rickles’ April 6 death from kidney failure, Griffin remembered him across several social media posts, including a photo of the 90-year-old posing next to another of Griffin’s mentors, Joan Rivers, who died in 2014.

“These two. They need to come back. Now, please,” Griffin wrote.

Griffin is currently on a national tour to support her new book, Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins, which is available now.

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