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Victor Buono 1938-1982

Country : San Diego, CA
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1938-02-03
Date of death : 1982-01-11
Cause of Death : Heart Failure

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Charles Victor Buono (3 February 1938 – 11 January 1982) was an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated American actor and comic.


Buono was born in San Diego, California, the son of Myrtle Belle (1909-1979) and Victor Francis Buono (1907-1981). His maternal grandmother, Myrtle Glied (1886-1969), had been a Vaudeville performer on the Orpheum Circuit. When he was a little boy, she taught him songs and recitations and encouraged him to perform for visitors.

Early life and career

Even though the young Buono enjoyed the polite applause of those captive audiences, he thought he wanted to be a doctor. When he was sixteen, Father John Aherne of St. Augustine High School in San Diego cast him as Papa Barrett in the play The Barretts of Wimpole Street. Buono appeared in three plays a year while attending high school, which included Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp and Shakespearean dramas. He even played the title role of Hamlet.

He soon forgot about having a medical career. He started appearing on local radio and television stations, and at the age of eighteen he joined the Globe Theater Players in San Diego. The director had confidence in Buono and cast him in Volpone, Midsummer Night's Dream and other Globe presentations. He received good notices for his various Shakespearean roles and in modern plays such as The Man Who Came To Dinner and Witness For The Prosecution.

In the summer of 1959, a talent scout from Warner Bros. saw the heavyset Buono play Falstaff at the Globe and took him up to Hollywood for a screen test. He made his first network TV appearance playing the bearded poet Bongo Benny in an episode of 77 Sunset Strip. Over the next few years he appeared on numerous shows playing menacing heavies in just about every Grade "A" private eye series. He also appeared on The Untouchables. Because of his overweight stature and early hair loss, Buono usually played older characters. After appearing in a few motion pictures uncredited, he was cast by director Robert Aldrich in the psychological horror movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) with screen luminaries Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. He played the part of the ne'er-do-well musical accompanist, Edwin Flagg. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for this performance.

Noteworthy film roles

He appeared in Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) playing Big Sam Hollis, the father of Bette Davis, who had the title role, which was also directed by Aldrich. And he appeared in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) starring Max von Sydow, Michael Anderson, Jr. and Carroll Baker, which was produced and directed by George Stevens. Buono played the role of the High Priest Sorak in this story about Jesus.

He also appeared in such movies as 4 for Texas (1963), Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964), The Silencers (1966), Who's Minding the Mint? (1967), Target: Harry (1969) and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and The Mad Butcher (1972).

Buono had a vast body of work in movies, and among his extensive TV appearances were the recurring roles of the demented Count Manzeppi on the popular (CBS) series The Wild Wild West starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin, which ran from 1965 to 1969, and he also played unrelated characters in that series' premiere episode and in the second and final Wild Wild West reunion movie.

Villainous television roles

He played King Tut on the (ABC) series Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward, which ran from 1966 to 1968. King Tut was a timid history professor who, after being hit in the head with a brick at a peace rally, donned the persona of the Egyptian royal. When he suffered another blow to the head, the villain would return to his meek demeanor. He was in demand to play villains of various nationalities and ethnic origins on many programs between 1964 and 1970. He made a guest appearance as Hannibal Day in the Get Smart episode "Moonlighting Becomes You" originally airing January 2, 1970. He also portrayed Count Carlos Manzeppi, the leader of a villainous circus troupe in The Wild Wild West.

He also appeared three times as Dr. Blaine in the ABC sitcom Harrigan and Son, starring Pat O'Brien and Roger Perry as a father-and-son team of lawyers.

Comedy record albums and comic poetry

In the early 1970s, Buono released some comedy record albums, which poked fun at his extra large stature, and a book of comic poetry called It Could Be Verse. He would sometimes recite his poetry on guest appearances of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The most popular of his poems was "Fat Man's Prayer". It included many widely quoted stanzas such as:

We are what we eat, said a wise old man,
And Lord, if that's true, I'm a garbage can!

At oleomargarine I'll never mutter,
For the road to hell is spread with butter.

And cake is cursed, and cream is awful,
And Satan is hiding in every waffle.

Give me this day my daily slice—
But cut it thin and toast it twice.

— Victor Buono, [citation needed]

Later career

In the late 1970s and in 1980, Buono played the memory-impaired Reverend Jim Ignatowski's millionaire father on Taxi. Buono died before the end of the series, and another actor played the role briefly. The character was eventually killed-off and an episode dealt with Jim coping with his father's death. Another recurring role in the late '70s was as Mr. Schubert, the main villain on Man from Atlantis.

In 1980 Buono appeared in the TV-movie Murder Can Hurt You as Chief Ironbottom, a parody of the title character from Ironside.

His later roles were more of pompous intellectuals and shady con men. He could also play straight roles. In the TV miniseries Backstairs at the White House (1979) he portrayed President William Howard Taft and delivered a poignant tribute to the late Mrs. Taft.

Personal life

Buono liked to read and write, and one of his main hobbies was Shakespeare. "The more you study him," he said, "the greater he grows". He was also highly regarded as a gourmet chef.

Buono died of a heart attack at his ranch in Apple Valley, California. Buono is entombed in a crypt with his mother Myrtle, but his name unmarked in San Diego's Greenwood Memorial Park.


The Flight of Dragons (1982) [VOICE]
The Man with Bogart's Face (3-Oct-1980)
The Evil (5-May-1978)
The Wrath of God (14-Jul-1972)
The Mad Butcher of Vienna (22-Jan-1971)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1-May-1970)
Boot Hill (20-Dec-1969)
Target: Harry (1969)
Who's Minding the Mint (26-Sep-1967)
The Silencers (18-Feb-1966)
Young Dillinger (28-Apr-1965)
The Greatest Story Ever Told (15-Feb-1965)
Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (15-Dec-1964)
Robin and the 7 Hoods (24-Jun-1964)
4 for Texas (18-Dec-1963)
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (26-Oct-1962)




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