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Actor, Comedian Red Buttons Dies
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Actor, Comedian Red Buttons Dies

Remembrances

Actor, Comedian Red Buttons Dies

Actor, Comedian Red Buttons Dies
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Red Buttons died Thursday. He was 87. The red-haired entertainer won an Oscar for his acting, but first made his name with comedy. He was born Aaron Chwatt in New York City. He won an Oscar for the film Sayonara, in which he played a soldier in Japan after World War II.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Red Buttons has died. The red-headed entertainer won an Oscar for his acting, but first made his name with comedy.

He was born Aaron Chwatt in New York City. He said he was inspired by a Yiddish radio ad for a clothing store called Joe and Paul's.

(Soundbite of previous interview with Mr. Red Buttons)

Mr. RED BUTTONS (Entertainer): We used to hang around the cafeterias in the '30s. There was Kellog's Cafeteria(ph) on 49th Street. It was a cafeteria for the small-time guys. So we'd sit around the table - Jewish kids, we were first-generation Americans - and we fell in love with Joe and Paul's of (unintelligible). Number one, it was funny. Number two, it was musical. You, know, and it was catchy. It was a very, very catchy refrain.

(singing) Joe and Paul's...

(Soundbite of Joe and Paul Commercial)

Mr. PAUL KOFSKY (Owner, Joe and Paul's): (Singer) Joe and Paul's (foreign language spoken). Joe and Paul's (foreign language spoken)...

(Soundbite of previous interview with Mr. Red Buttons)

Mr. BUTTONS: There was something about that had a heim(ph), a little heart to it. So we used to tap it off on the tables, you know. Yum, bum bum, ba bum, yum, bum bum, ba ba bum, bum bum. And as you started to play around with it it caught on immediately.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Red Buttons' antics on stage eventually led to many roles on screen, some were serious. He received his Oscar for the film Sayonara, in which he played an American soldier in Japan after World War II. But until his death at the age of 87, he continued his comedy routines. He like to quote Abraham Lincoln as saying, a house divided is a condominium.

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