Thursday, July 13, 2006

 

Sayonara Red!

Whenever I thought of Red Buttons, for some reason I also thought of fellow comedian Red Skelton, a contemporary of his. I can't be the only person to do that, right? Buttons, who survived Skelton by almost a decade, just died at age 87. His professional life had a couple of interesting points of irony. In 1941, actor Jose Ferrer had selected Buttons -- who up to that time was working as a Borscht Belt comedian and doing standup at Minsky's Burlesque -- to appear in the Broadway show The Admiral Had a Wife. A farce set in Pearl Harbor, the show was due to open on December 8, 1941. It never did. (In later years, Buttons would joke that the Japanese only attacked Pearl Harbor to keep him off of Broadway.) In a category which often awards comedic roles, Buttons won an Oscar for the 1957 film Sayonara as Best Supporting Actor, for one of his few dramatic turns!

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