Buck Henry, a writer who with Mel Brooks created TV’s Get Smart and a frequent host during Saturday Night Live‘s early years, died on Wednesday from a heart attack. He was 89.
Henry’s early writing credits included TV’s The Garry Moore Show and This Was the Week That Was, before he and Brooks created 1965’s Get Smart, a five-season, Emmy-winning spy spoof starring Don Adams in the title role.
For the big screen, he helped pen both The Graduate (for which he earned an Oscar nod), The Owl and the Pussycat and What’s Up, Doc?, before he shepherded the short-lived TV space spoof Quark, starring Richard Benjamin as the captain of an intergalactic garbage scow.
On SNL, he hosted 10 times from 1976-80 and put in at least a half dozen other appearances beyond that, playing such recurring characters as Mr. Dantley (the straight man to John Belushi’s multi-vocational Samurai) and the father of Bill Murray’s Todd in “The Nerds.”
As an actor, Henry’s credits included The Graduate, his 1970 adaptation of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, and Heaven Can Wait (which he co-directed, earning an Oscar nod with star Warren Beatty), as well as TV’s Falcon Crest, Murphy Brown, 30 Rock (as Liz Lemon’s dad), Hot in Cleveland and Franklin and Bash.