"Sorry about that, Chief"
January 9, 2020 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Buck Henry, Academy Award nominated screenwriter and director, co-creator of Get Smart and creator of Quark, beloved foil of Samurai Futaba, has passed away at the age of 89.
posted by hanov3r (63 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
posted by jim in austin at 3:16 PM on January 9

posted by dannyboybell at 3:19 PM on January 9

posted by cazoo at 3:28 PM on January 9

posted by Acid Communist at 3:31 PM on January 9

This is the second saddest obituary I've ever read.
posted by fairmettle at 3:36 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]

Wrote The Graduate!

Absent-minded Waiter short
posted by goinWhereTheClimateSuitsMyClothes at 3:38 PM on January 9

Lower the Cone of Silence.
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:40 PM on January 9 [13 favorites]

Remembering Buck Henry: Al Franken, Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, Albert Brooks Join In Praise For Comedy Legend
... with a bunch of other people (Peter Frampton) you wouldn't necessarily expect.

Patton Oswalt tweeted an old talk-show exchange:

David Letterman: Do you have any hobbies?
Buck Henry: I have hobbies.
DL: Do you have any pets?
BH: I'm not allowed to have pets.
DL: Why?
BH: Because of my hobbies.


The "Buck Henry Collection on Letterman, 1987-1994" on YouTube.
Also on YouTube, The Writer Speaks: Buck Henry, from the Writer's Guild Foundation, a little over six years ago.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:45 PM on January 9 [18 favorites]

posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:48 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

A friend posted this interview he did with Henry: “ As a writer and an actor, Buck Henry has one of the most interesting profiles in the history of television. Uncommonly, he also occupies that same position in 60s and 70s American film. In those years especially, his was one of the voices that brought movie and TV comedy into wider focus, rendering it more political, sexual, and trippily referential than it had previously been, basically creating its current template.”

( My apologies for directing any traffic whatsoever towards Vice.)
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 3:50 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

As someone who was exactly the right age to get sucked into Star Wars in 1977, I was never able to understand why anybody would cancel Quark.

posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:54 PM on January 9 [12 favorites]

I always wondered why he never made it back to SNL after Lorne returned. I would have liked to have seen him guest host the season finale at least once for old time's sake.

He also wrote To Die For! What a broad range of talent.

posted by Fukiyama at 3:57 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

posted by TedW at 4:00 PM on January 9

posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 4:07 PM on January 9

almost 90? he missed it by that much
posted by kokaku at 4:11 PM on January 9 [22 favorites]

posted by briank at 4:24 PM on January 9

posted by Thorzdad at 4:31 PM on January 9

posted by mosk at 4:33 PM on January 9

"Okay, here it is: The Graduate: Part II."

posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:38 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Farewell, G. Clifford Prout. A nude horse is a rude horse!
posted by mattdidthat at 4:39 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

My first memory of Buck Henry was watching those truncated repeats of Saturday Night Live on Nick at Nite back in the day. I was culturally aware enough to recognize most of the hosts that came on the show, but at about the third separate episode that featured Buck Henry I remember thinking, "Who the fuck is this guy that keep showing up?"

Fortunately, I learned a lot more about him later on ("Danby. D A N B Y"). RIP, Buck.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:05 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]

posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 5:15 PM on January 9

posted by Joey Michaels at 5:21 PM on January 9

posted by kinnakeet at 5:36 PM on January 9

There aren't enough words, all I can do is endeavor to watch more of his work.

posted by rhizome at 5:46 PM on January 9

posted by AugustWest at 6:01 PM on January 9

posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:22 PM on January 9

(holds shoe to ear and only gets a dialtone)
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 6:56 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

posted by droplet at 7:08 PM on January 9

posted by gudrun at 7:13 PM on January 9

posted by evilDoug at 7:25 PM on January 9

Also, Dick Lemon.

posted by SoundInhabitant at 7:31 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

posted by Lyme Drop at 7:34 PM on January 9

posted by clavdivs at 8:04 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

I recall him best from his regular SNL appearances. I think he was the first member of the Five-Timers’ Club, before there was a Five-Timers’ Club.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:07 PM on January 9

Yikes! In the second clip of the Letterman collection (from 1988), he's riffing on Joe Biden's presidential run.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:13 PM on January 9

posted by valkane at 8:38 PM on January 9

Man, I wish that the "Toad Island" sketch from SNL was online; that was deeply freaky. (Basically, an island where everybody had the inbred trait of the flesh below their jaw regularly inflating and deflating.)

posted by Halloween Jack at 8:59 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

posted by bryon at 9:10 PM on January 9

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:22 PM on January 9

Makes me feel old. Makes me feel even older noting how few people on MetaFilter must not even recognize the name, based on the comment count.

posted by tzikeh at 9:25 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

posted by pt68 at 9:29 PM on January 9

In "Heaven can wait," there's a scene in which Dyan Cannon and Charles Grodin attempt to conspire. They're actually in a hedge in the scene - ! - and they're interrupted by a butler. The whole thing is beyond absurd. I saw the movie when I was a kid, and have been Buck Henry's audience ever since.
posted by goofyfoot at 10:31 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

posted by filtergik at 1:47 AM on January 10

posted by tdismukes at 2:02 AM on January 10

posted by jjderooy at 3:15 AM on January 10

posted by oneironaut at 4:21 AM on January 10

posted by lordrunningclam at 6:17 AM on January 10

SNL wouldn't have made it out of the gate without Buck Henry. RIP. :(
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:20 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]

posted by camyram at 6:34 AM on January 10

Adapted my favorite book into one of my favorite movies. That's some catch!

posted by carsonb at 7:08 AM on January 10

posted by Gelatin at 7:31 AM on January 10

I remember when I was a kid, like around 12 or 13, we always scoffed at Buck Henry because in the SNLs he hosted, the sketches tended to be pretty weak on the whole. I learned many years later there was a reason for that: after a while, he always hosted the last show of the season, and the writers were so exhausted by then that they wouldn't want to write anything new. For that reason, a lot of the stuff that got aired was the leftover sketches of the season that never got aired because the other hosts wouldn't touch them. Henry was apparently so easygoing that he didn't mind doing those sketches; he would sit around 30 Rock, reading the New York Times, and everyone would start feeling calm and not write much new material.

(This was all in Doug Hill and Jeff Winegrad's book on SNL; I'm not sure whether it's still in print, but it's very much worth reading.)

RIP Buck.
posted by holborne at 8:33 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]

Quark is a fond memory; I have no idea if it would stand up today, but for its brief run, it had my entire family in hysterics weekly.
posted by tavella at 8:41 AM on January 10

posted by Splunge at 8:45 AM on January 10


I was the perfect age to appreciate Get Smart, and had matured just enough to really appreciate Quark. The transition from Don Adams' over-the-top performance to Richard Benjamin's more low-key reactive style was like a mini-masterclass in comedy. Quark certainly deserved six seasons and a movie. And Buck's own performances on SNL took it a step further. And while Buck's partner in creating Smart, Mel Brooks made movie comedy in the 70s more edgy, Buck Henry made it more grounded, but no less funny.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:03 AM on January 10

posted by ZeusHumms at 11:35 AM on January 10

posted by Chrysostom at 11:52 AM on January 10

posted by bowline at 11:59 AM on January 10

posted by hap_hazard at 12:40 PM on January 10

posted by detachd at 2:03 PM on January 11


And remember "It's not a Lemon party without old Dick."
posted by Marticus at 1:03 PM on January 12

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