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September 4th, 2014
05:21 PM ET

Don Rickles: Joan Rivers was very smart, and off-stage very caring

(CNN) – Don Rickles' relationship with fellow comedian Joan Rivers goes way, way back.

"Now that I'm 27, it's hard for me to remember," he joked, doing what his friend would have wanted him to go on doing after her death – make people laugh.

"She always had a great sense of humor," Rickles said. "A lot of people don't know she was a very smart lady. I mean it, knowledge-wise, I mean she could talk about any subject you could think of."

Rivers was a trailblazer, and had to be tougher than male comedians coming up in the business, says Rickles.

"Joan had her own style and young people loved her," said Rickles. " Off-stage she was a very caring lady and I'll miss her terribly."

Both Rivers and Rickles are legends in the pantheon of American comedians, known for their brutal honesty and their aversion to cozy up to audiences. She was scheduled to appear with him in a show in May.

"Now that's gone away. It will just be my own show. She won't be with me. She always had a chemistry that
always worked for me when she was working with me," Rickles said.

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