Legendary Screenwriter Buck Henry Of ‘The Graduate’ And ‘Get Smart’ Has Died At Age 89
In addition to writing, Henry hosted "SNL" 10 times.
Screenwriter, actor and producer Buck Henry died of a heart attack at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 8. He was 89.
Along with Calder Willingham, Henry wrote the adapted screenplay for 1967’s “The Graduate,” for which they received an Oscar nomination. He also co-directed “Heaven Can Wait” with Warren Beatty in 1978, for which they also received another Oscar nod.
His other writing credits include Broadway’s “The Owl and the Pussycat to Die For,” the 1972 movie “What’s Up Doc?” and several other films and television shows. Along with Mel Brooks, he also co-created the sitcom “Get Smart.”
He was also a performer. In addition to writing and producing, Henry hosted “Saturday Night Live” a total of 10 times during the show’s first five years, from 1975 to 1980. He also appeared in films such as “Grumpy Old Men,” “Catch-22″ and The Man Who Fell to Earth,” as well as sitcom episodes, including “30 Rock,” “Murphy Brown” and “Will & Grace.”
“I never wanted to stay at anything very long,” Henry told The New York Times in 2002 of his prolific and varied career. “I’m moderately lazy, and I’m interested in much too large a list of things other than my career.”
Several celebrities have taken to social media to share their remembrances of their friend and colleague.
“I am grateful to have worked with and been a friend of Buck Henry,” tweeted former U.S. senator and comedian Al Franken, along with a photo of Henry on “SNL.” (NPR reported that in this scene, Henry stepped too far forward, and John Belushi accidentally slashed his forehead with the samurai sword! Belushi’s own doctor was in the audience that night. “He patched me up during the commercial,” Henry said.) :
I am grateful to have worked with and been a friend of Buck Henry. Among his amazing body of work was hosting SNL many times in the first five seasons. Please read the following about his role in defining what the show would become. #RIPBuckHenry @nbcsnl https://t.co/2TmQtBqdPS
— Al Franken (@alfranken) January 9, 2020
Filmmaker Judd Apatow called Henry “hilarious and brilliant” and shared an anecdote of working with him at South by Southwest along with a photo from the event on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
Buck Henry was hilarious and brilliant and made us laugh more times than we even know. I was lucky enough to be on a panel with him at SXSW and he was so funny. He said “I don’t like to write with people because if they aren’t as funny as me I hate them and if they are funnier than me I hate them.” He wrote The Graduate and To Die For and co created Get Smart and was a riot hosting SNL back when they would let a writer host SNL. One of the greats.
Writer and producer Larry Karaszewski called Henry “our most fearless screenwriter” in a tweet, noting that he considered him the “funniest, smartest” guy on “SNL”:
R.I.P. Buck Henry – our most fearless screenwriter. Buck was also a big personality & a performer… he gave screenwriting a face. Growing up I could turn on Saturday Night LIve (which Buck hosted 10 times) and point to the funniest, smartest guy and say – that's a screenwriter. pic.twitter.com/21CqPqzicL
— Larry Karaszewski (@Karaszewski) January 9, 2020
He leaves behind his wife, Irene Ramp, whom he wed in 2008.
We’re sending our deepest condolences to Henry’s loved ones during this difficult time.