Screenwriter And Actor Buck Henry Dies At 89 Screenwriter and actor Buck Henry has died at age 89 after suffering a heart attack. Among his many credits, he co-wrote the screenplay for The Graduate and hosted Saturday Night Live 10 times.
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Screenwriter And Actor Buck Henry Dies At 89

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Screenwriter And Actor Buck Henry Dies At 89

Screenwriter And Actor Buck Henry Dies At 89

Screenwriter And Actor Buck Henry Dies At 89

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Screenwriter and actor Buck Henry has died at age 89 after suffering a heart attack. Among his many credits, he co-wrote the screenplay for The Graduate and hosted Saturday Night Live 10 times.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A comedy legend has died. Buck Henry's credits include "Saturday Night Live" and "The Graduate." He died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 89. NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this appreciation.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Buck Henry was the definition of deadpan. In the 1970s, he was a regular on "The Tonight Show."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON")

JOHNNY CARSON: Who could follow the singing dog follies (ph)?

BLAIR: Once, Henry joined Johnny Carson just after a singing dog contest.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON")

BUCK HENRY: I've followed a lot of peculiar people here, none of whom have had to be swept up after.

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR: With glasses and elfin features, Buck Henry had a look.

ALAN ZWEIBEL: It was cute, but naughty.

BLAIR: Comedy writer Alan Zweibel knew Buck Henry for more than 40 years. They first met when Zweibel wrote for "Saturday Night Live" in the 1970s. Henry hosted the show 10 times.

ZWEIBEL: He was funny, but in a cerebral - oh, God - subtly sarcastic way.

BLAIR: Alan Zweibel wrote the famous Samurai deli sketches with John Belushi brandishing a massive sword. Buck Henry played a customer.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

HENRY: (As Mr. Dantley) Can I have a sandwich, please?

JOHN BELUSHI: (As Samurai Futaba) Kuh-yahh (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

BLAIR: In the sketch, Henry looks utterly unconcerned as Belushi wields his sword.

ZWEIBEL: Cutting tomatoes (laughter). OK. You know, throwing it up in the air and yelling, you know, while he was making a sandwich. Buck would just continue on.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

HENRY: (As Mr. Dantley) I'm sure glad I found you open. You know, most of the places are closed this late.

BELUSHI: (As Samurai Futaba) Yahh (ph).

BLAIR: Buck Henry was the son of a silent film actress. He served in the Army in the 1950s and went to Dartmouth. The adapted screenplay he wrote for "The Graduate" earned him an Oscar nomination. In the movie, Dustin Hoffman's character has just graduated from college. He's at a loss for what to do next and not getting much help from the adults in his life. Buck Henry once told NPR "The Graduate" is about the alienation and passion of someone in their 20s.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

HENRY: Everyone I knew went through it. Maybe it's because, you know, we're out of the '40s, '50s, '60s, but I think it's true today, too - how to get away and what the hell to get away to.

BLAIR: Alan Zweibel says, despite his success, Buck Henry never bragged. Henry made millions laugh, even if they didn't know his name.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SCARBOROUGH FAIR")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) Tell her to make me a cambric shirt. On the side of a hill, in the deep forest green - parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Tracing of sparrow on snow-crested ground - without no seams or needlework. Blankets and bedclothes, the child of the mountain. Then she'll be a true love of mine - sleeps unaware of the clarion call. Tell her to find me an acre of land. On the side of a hill, a sprinkling of leaves - parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Washes the grave...

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