Jan 8, 2020: Buck Henry, ‘Get Smart’ Co-Creator With Mel Brooks—Obituary

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Bill Murray as the Earl of Sandwich speaks with Buck Henry and Gilda Radner, as Lord and Lady Douchebag, in a May 24, 1980 SNL sketch

Buck Henry, whose witty pen touched a generation with such classic comedic content as TV’s Get Smart, the 1967 feature film, The Graduate, and NBC’s Saturday Night Live, died January 8, 2020, at age 89 in Los Angeles. The news was first reported by Deadline.com. Henry died of a heart attack.

Henry hosted SNL an astounding ten times in the sketch comedy series’ first five seasons.

Watch Henry in one of the classic “nerd” sketches

The actor-writer-director co-created the popular spy spoof, Get Smart, with Mel Brooks. The pair were just 34 and 39, respectively, when the spy spoof bowed on NBC on September 18, 1965.

The series was never a huge hit in any of its five seasons that ran from 1965-1970 in a three-network environment. Its first season was its most successful, finishing #12 overall. Get Smart earned the Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series twice; Adams took home the award three times for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. Henry won a writing Emmy in 1967.

Henry wrote the screenplay for one of the most influential and groundbreaking films of its time, The Graduate, which was released on December 22, 1967.

The picture captured the mood of a generation, catapulted Dustin Hoffman to superstardom and garnered seven Oscar nominations, including a Best Director win for its director, Mike Nichols. Henry earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Henry also wrote the screenplays to such iconic films as 1970’s Catch-22 (also directed by Nichols) and The Owl and the Pussycat, among others.

In 1979, he earned an Oscar nomination for directing the film Heaven Can Wait, starring Warren Beatty. He wrote and directed 1980’s The First Family, which starred Bob Newhart and Madeline Kahn.

Henry was born Henry Zuckerman on December 9, 1930. hosted SNL an astounding ten times in those first five seasons.

Related: SNL’s classic “Lord and Lady Douchebag” sketch

Henry was mourned by longtime SNL writer Alan Zweibel…

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  1. Lorelei
    #1 Lorelei 9 January, 2023, 16:22

    Long ago my husband and I were driving down Sunset Blvd. at night. When it’s obvious that he hasn’t seen the person crossing the street, I yell and he just barely misses the person, (thank God!!!) and I get a closer look at him and it was Buck Henry!!!! I told him “Omg, we almost killed Buck Henry!!!” I really liked him too! There wasn’t social media back then, so I never got to tell him that he was almost squished that night.

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