Buck Henry 1930 - 2020

As with all of you, I mourn the passing of Buck Henry. I never got to meet Buck and only conversed with him over the phone and via email, but every time we spoke he was funny, warm, and engaging. Other sites can do a much better job than me of covering his stellar career and overall brilliance, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about Buck and Get Smart. More than any other person, Buck is responsible for the Get Smart we all know and love. Yes, he and Mel Brooks were credited as co-creators, and Mel was a big force up until the pilot was written. I am a huge admirer of Mel, but once the pilot was written, Mel was essentially done with Get Smart. In addition, it was Buck who physically wrote down that pilot script and who spent many hours in the office by himself, working on it. After that was written, the show was almost entirely Buck. Yes, Leonard Stern, Don, Arne Sultan and others were a big part of the show, but it was Buck's writing, Buck's attitude, and Buck's sensibility that crafted the show and individual episodes.

Don Adams, Leonard Stern, and Buck Henry with their Emmy Awards for Get Smart.

I'd like to quote Alan Spencer's Tweet on Buck: "Leonard Stern's recollection of Buck Henry on 'Get Smart!' was a man that never left his office, rewrote every script, guaranteeing consistent comic brilliance. If a script was weak, Buck Henry stayed in his office all night rewriting and the next morning, it was ready to shoot." I can second that. Leonard told me that every single script in seasons one and two went through Buck's typewriter before shooting. Buck set the tone and after he left, in my opinion, no one could match him. If you feel that the sequels did not match up to the original, the absence of Buck Henry is a major reason for that drop.

Buck always expressed to me pride in the series and also a sense of wonderment that people (like us) still cared about the show. Early on in my website I received an unsolicited email from Buck and without that praise and humor, none of this might have gone forward. Unfortunately, a death in the family prevented him from attending the GS Gathering, but he did send his love to everyone, including all the fans. He truly appeciated all of us, much in the way we all appreciated him and what he added to our lives. Thanks for sharing with us Buck! My deepest condolences to all his friends and family.

Copyright 2023 Carl Birkmeyer