Saturday, July 15, 2006


The death of Red Buttons came as a surprise. Not that he was much in the public eye of late, and o'bviously I did know he was quite up there in years, but I thought he might have been hale and hearty enough to still be working. In fact, only two weeks ago I made a casting suggestion in this blog for him:

I don't know anything about vascular disease, whether it results in a long and debilitating deterioration or if it strikes quickly, but last year at this time Mr. Buttons was still a vital and quick-witted soul as evidenced in this very entertaining blog report from Alan Sepinwall of the Star-Ledger:

By the time I was born, Red Buttons was already considered washed up in Television, even when the business was basically still in its toddler stage. But he rebounded from that with his Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actor in "Sayonara", and he went on to make more movies like "The Longest Day" and "The Poseidon Adventure".

During the 1970s, he also perfected a routine for the 'Dean Martin Roasts' about all the famous people who never had a dinner in their honor. It was a great bit that allowed him to touch on previously taboo subjects in a roundabout manner.

There's one particular Toobworld moment of his that I always remember because I could see it for what it was meant to be - filler. It was in an episode of 'Vega$', perhaps the pilot, in which Red was a character who seemed to be invincible with the slot machines. And it's not like he was playing one certain machine that was fixed; he was picking his targets at random and still hitting them for big payoffs.

When his scam was finally uncovered by Dan Tanna, he spent several minutes doing "patter" with his goodbyes before Dan had him tossed out of the casino. It was an old vaudevillian trick to stretch out the time and yet not be so vital to the plot that it couldn't be cut later for additional commercial time.

It's been about thirty years on now...... I wouldn't be surprised if that bit has been entirely edited out to make room for more blipverts.

But Red Buttons will never end up on the cutting room floor of our memories, not so long as there are his movie appearances and his TV work in such shows as 'Roseanne' and 'ER'. His contributions via 'The Double Life Of Henry Phyfe' may have long since faded into obscurity, but those two series at least will have a long shelf life in syndication.

I may not get the chance now to see Red Buttons as Eric Murphy's grandfather on 'Entourage', but at least I know some of his characters have immortality in Toobworld.

And as Toobworld is just a fantasy universe anyway, I can always imagine him as E's gramps... at least until an actual episode of 'Entourage' comes along to say otherwise.

My porkpie hat's off to you, Red. I hope you finally get your dinner.

"The Red Buttons Show" (1952) TV Series .... Himself (Host) (1952-1955)
"Knots Landing" (1979) TV Series .... Al Baker (1987)
"The Double Life of Henry Phyfe" (1966) TV Series .... Henry Wadsworth Phyfe (1966)

The New Original Wonder Woman (1975) (TV) .... Ashley Norman/Carl

"ER" - Jules "Ruby" Rubadoux
- Ruby Redux (2005) TV Episode
- The Right Thing (1996) TV Episode
- True Lies (1996) TV Episode
- Dead of Winter (1996) TV Episode
- A Miracle Happens Here (1995) TV Episode
"Street Time" - Sam Kahan
- Reversal of Fortune (2002) TV Episode
- Random Act (2002) TV Episode
- Pilot: Part 1 (2002) TV Episode
- Pilot: Part 2 (2002) TV Episode
"Roseanne" - Jake
- Body by Jake (1994) TV Episode
- Playing with Matches (1993) TV Episode
"Vega$" - Tommy Cirko
- Serve, Volley and Kill (1978) TV Episode
- High Roller (1978) TV Episode

Reunion at Fairborough (1985) (TV) .... Jiggs Quealy
Off Your Rocker (1982) (TV) .... Seymour Saltz
Side Show (1981) (TV) .... Harry
Leave 'em Laughing (1981) (TV) .... Roland
The Dream Merchants (1980) (TV) .... Bruce Benson
Power (1980) (TV) .... Solly Weiss
The Users (1978) (TV) .... Warren Ambrose
Telethon (1977) (TV) .... Mart Rand
Alexander, Alexander (1973) (TV) .... Alexander Foster
Breakout (1970) (TV) .... Pipes

Alice in Wonderland (1985) (TV) .... White Rabbit

Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979) (TV) (voice) .... Milton
"Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre"
- Murder at N.B.C. (1966) TV Episode
Hansel and Gretel (1958) (TV) .... Hansel

Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style (1976) (TV) .... Red Cleveland
George M! (1970) (TV) .... Sam H. Harris

"It's Garry Shandling's Show."
- Force Boxman (1987) TV Episode .... Himself
Joys (1976) (TV) .... Red Buttons
... aka Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope in 'Joys'

"Presidio Med"
- Milagros (2002) TV Episode .... Chick
- The Curse of the Klopman Diamonds (2002) TV Episode .... Murray Klopman
"Family Law"
- Second Chance (2000) TV Episode .... Carl Porter
"Early Edition"
- Pinch Hitters (1999) TV Episode .... Walter Stites
- My Dinner with Methuseleh (1997) TV Episode .... Mr. Tibbles
"The Cosby Show"
- Cliff and Jake (1991) TV Episode .... Jake Bennett
- The Audit (1987) TV Episode .... Toots
"Fantasy Island"
- King of Burlesque/Death Games (1983) TV Episode
- Cornelius and Alfonse/The Choice (1979) TV Episode .... Cornelius Kelly
- Return/The Toughest Man Alive (1978) TV Episode .... Tony Emerson
"The Love Boat"
- Vicki's Dilemma/Discount Romance/Looser & Still Champ (1983) TV Episode .... Jimmy
- Doc's Ex' Change/Gift, The/Making the Grade (1979) TV Episode .... Bud Redmond
- The Where Is It Written?/Julie's Aunt/Big Deal (1978) TV Episode .... Uncle Cyrus
"Little House on the Prairie"
- Circus Man (1975) TV Episode .... William "Willie" O'Hara
"Love, American Style"
- Love and the Advice Givers/Love and the Geisha/Love and Take Me Along (1969) TV Episode .... Norman (segment "Love and the Geisha")
"The Danny Thomas Hour"
- The Zero Man (1967) TV Episode .... Al Risko
"Ben Casey"
- Journeys End in Lovers Meeting (1965) TV Episode .... Bill Jacoby
"The Greatest Show on Earth"
- The Last of the Strongmen (1964) TV Episode .... Walter Wallace
"The Eleventh Hour"
- Sunday Father (1964) TV Episode .... Cody Evans
"Saints and Sinners"
- All the Hard Young Men (1962) TV Episode .... Joe Roganyan
"Frontier Circus"
- Never Won Fair Lady (1962) TV Episode .... Earl Youngblood
"General Electric Theater"
- Tippy-Top (1961) TV Episode .... Tippy-Top
- The Tallest Marine (1959) TV Episode .... Lieutenant George Poole
"The United States Steel Hour"
- The Case of the Missing Wife (1960) TV Episode
"Death Valley Days"
- The Million Dollar Pants (1960) TV Episode .... Levi Strauss
- Something Special (1959) TV Episode .... Joe Henders
"Playhouse 90"
- A Marriage of Strangers (1959) TV Episode .... Jerry
"Studio One"
- The Tale of St. Emergency (1956) TV Episode .... St. Emergency
- Merryman's Murder (1951) TV Episode

[Thanks to the]


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