The FULL STORY of how insult kingpin DON RICKLES, 86, refuses to go “gently into that good night “ – YOU HOCKEY PUCK!

DON RICKLES’ pals fear the 86-year-old stand-up legend is on his way out, but the comic angrily denies it and declares: “I’ll die when I die!”

Recent photos show, the famed insult comedian appeared frail, pained and disoriented when he recently stepped out on the town with friends.

Confronted about his health on March 22 outside Beverly Hills’ Spago, the rickety-looking fun­nyman shot back: “Do you think I have f***ing Alzheimer’s dis­ease? I’m fine!” and he insisted he wasn’t ready to die.

But a concerned source confided: “Despite what he says, Don is not fine. He’s very frail and feeble.

“WHEN HE’S SITTING AROUND with pals, he’ll appear to become disoriented and disconnected from the conversation.

“He also has trouble walking and has to be sup­ported as he totters around town.”

On March 21, a shuffling Rickles was photographed with his buddy Regis Phil­bin leaving the West Hollywood restau­rant Madeo.

Regis had a protec­tive arm around the comic, who looked ready to collapse.

Just days earlier on March 12, dinner pa­trons were shocked at how feeble Rickles appeared as he dined with Bob Newhart at The Grille on the Alley in Beverly Hills.

“Don seems to be using his crazy ex­pressions from past stand-up acts to cover for his current condition. When he’s having a hard time walking, he tries to be funny by acting like a zombie or making a zany face – it’s a distraction from anyone really seeing what a hard time he’s having. He probably hopes they write it off as him being silly,” said one eyewitness.

“Don looked like death warmed over,” said another observer, “and he appeared to be nodding off.

“When he asked for a seat cush­ion, it was everything he could do to stand and support himself.

“And when he left, it took 10 min­utes to get him into the back of his car.”

Insiders say the master of the put-down has been on a downward spiral ever since his only son Larry died at age 41 of pneumonia on Dec. 3, 2011.

While Don – who counts on the support of his devoted wife of 48 years, Barbara – insists he’ll be around for a long time, the source revealed he has a “bucket list” of things he wants to do before he goes, the first being to visit with as many friends as possible.

“That’s at the very top of his list,” the source said.