Born in Portland, Oregon, Rickles began his announcing career at the age of 11 at KBPS (AM) in Portland. Later he was chief announcer for KUSC-FM in Los Angeles, California. Other stations where he worked early in his career included KGW and KEX in Portland and KVAN in Vancouver, Washington.
In 1949, Rickles became an announcer at KIEV in Los Angeles, and a year later joined the announcing staff of NBC in Hollywood. He was part of a core group of West Coast announcers for the network that, in his early years, included Don Stanley, Arch Presby, Eddy King, and Frank Barton; by the 1970s the main core announcing lineup had become Rickles, Stanley, Victor Bozeman, and Peggy Taylor.
Rickles' radio announcing credits included The Whisperer, The Great Gildersleeve,"Nightbeat" and The NBC University Theatre. On television, over the next three decades he would handle announcing duties for such programs as Coke Time with Eddie Fisher, The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Flip Wilson Show, Sanford and Son, NBC Saturday Night at the Movies, NBC Monday Night at the Movies, and Bob Hope specials. He appeared in sketches on, and frequently did voice-over work for, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and in a memorable 1978 episode of The Tomorrow Show, he and host Tom Snyder spent ten minutes playing the Milton Bradley board game Simon. He also handled live booth announcing duties for the network's Los Angeles owned-and-operated station, KNBC.
Rickles had also worked as a newscaster, at one point anchoring KNBC's 11 P.M. newscast. Years later, after John Schubeck became anchor, Rickles was one of the rotating announcers for the station's NewsCenter 4, and was thanked on the air by Schubeck at the start of each newscast. Rickles also anchored out-of-vision for sign-on and sign-off editions of NewsCenter4.
- Obituary in Variety, February 27, 1985.
- Donald Rickles radio credits (with some credits actually applicable to comedian Don Rickles)
- Web page with video clip of September 27, 1981 sign-off of KNBC by Donald Rickles