- Red Buttons
name = Red Buttons
birthname = Aaron Chwatt
birthdate = birth date|1919|2|5|mf=y
birthplace = city-state|New York City|New York, U.S.
deathdate = Death date and age|2006|07|13|1919|02|05
deathplace = Century City, city-state|Los Angeles|California, U.S.
Film, television actor
yearsactive = 1944–2005
spouse = Roxanne Arlen (m.1947)
Helayne McNorton (1949-1963)
Alicia Prats (1964-2001)
academyawards = Best Supporting Actor
goldenglobeawards = Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Red Buttons was born Aaron Chwatt on
February 5, 1919in New York Cityto Jewish immigrants.cite encyclopedia | title =Motion Pictures| encyclopedia =Encyclopaedia Judaica| volume=| pages =| publisher =Keter Publishing House| date =1971-1972| id =| accessdate =2006-11-17 ] At sixteen years old, Buttons got a job as an entertaining bellhopat Ryan's Tavern in City Island, Bronx. The combination of his red hair and the shiny buttoned bellhop uniform inspired orchestra leader Charles "Dinty" Moore to call him Red Buttons, the name under which he would later perform.
Later that same summer, Buttons worked on the
Borscht Belt; his straight manwas Robert Alda. In 1939, Buttons started working for Minsky's Burlesque; in 1941, José Ferrerchose Buttons to appear in a Broadway show "The Admiral Had a Wife". The show was a farceset in Pearl Harbor, and it was due to open on December 8 1941. It never did, as it was deemed inappropriate after the Japanese attack. In later years Buttons would joke that the Japanese only attacked Pearl Harbor to keep him off Broadway.
In September 1942, Buttons at last got his Broadway debut in "Vickie" with Ferrer and
Uta Hagen. Later that year, he appeared in the Minsky's show "Wine, Women and Song;" this was the last Burlesqueshow in New York City history, as the Mayor La Guardia administration closed it down. Buttons was on stage when the show was raided.
1943 saw Buttons in the Army Air Corps. He was chosen to appear in the Broadway show "Winged Victory," as well as appearing in the
Darryl F. Zanuckmovie version. He later went on to entertain troops in the European Theater of operations in the same unit as Mickey Rooney.
After the war, Buttons continued to do Broadway shows. He also performed at Broadway movie houses with the
Big Bands. In 1952, Buttons received his own variety series on television - "The Red Buttons Show" ran for three years, and achieved high levels of success. His catch phrasefrom the show, "strange things are happening," entered the national vocabulary briefly in the mid-1950s.
His role in "
Sayonara" was a dramatic departure from his previous work. In that film, he played Joe Kelly, an American airman stationed in Kobe, Japanduring the Korean War, who falls in love with Katsumi, a Japanese woman (played by Miyoshi Umeki), but is barred from marrying her by military rules intended to reassure the local populace that the U.S. presence is temporary. His portrayal of Kelly's calm resolve not to abandon the relationship and touching reassurance of Katsumi impressed audiences and critics alike; both he and Umeki won Academy Awards for the film. After his Oscar-winning role, Buttons performed in numerous feature films, including " Hatari!", "The Longest Day", "Harlow", "The Poseidon Adventure", " They Shoot Horses, Don't They?", " Pete's Dragon", and " 18 Again!" with George Burns. Buttons also made many memorable TV appearances on programs including "Little House on the Prairie", " It's Garry Shandling's Show", "ER" and "Roseanne".
He became a nationally recognizable comedian, and his "Never Got A Dinner" sketch was a standard at the
Dean Martinroasts for many years.
Number 71 on
Comedy Central's list of the "100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time", Buttons received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famefor television, located at 1651 Vine Street.
Buttons was married to actress Roxanne Arlen in 1947, but it soon ended in divorce. His next marriage was to Helayne McNorton, from
December 8, 1949until 1963. His last marriage was to Alicia Pratt, which lasted from January 27 1964until her death in March 2001. Buttons had two children, daughter Amy Buttons and son Adam Buttons. He was the advertising spokesman for the Century Village, Florida retirement community.
Buttons was an early member of the Synagogue for the Performing Arts, and at the time, Rabbi
Jerome Cutlerwas the Rabbi. [http://www.forward.com/articles/8150/ "The Forward" ]
Buttons died of
vascular diseaseon July 13, 2006at his home in the Century City area of Los Angeles. Buttons had been ill for some time and was with family members when he died. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/5178496.stm "Comedian Red Buttons dies at 87"] . BBC News. 14 July 2006.]
*imdb name | id=0000999 | name=Red Buttons
*tcmdb name|id=26337|name=Red Buttons
*ibdb name|id=33909|name=Red Buttons
* [http://www.cbc.ca/story/arts/national/2006/07/13/red-buttons-obit.html Actor Red Buttons dead at 87]
* [http://www.leonardociampa.com/RedButtons.html A Tribute to Red Buttons]
*Find A Grave|id=14915440
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.