Comedy icon Buck Henry, screenwriter of “The Graduate” and early star of “Saturday Night Live,” died Wednesday in Los Angeles. He was 89.
Henry died at a hospital after suffering a heart attack, NBC’s “TODAY” show reported.
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Henry was best known as the Oscar-nominated writer who teamed with Calder Willingham to write the screenplay for 1967’s “The Graduate. Considered a comedy genius, Henry also earned an Academy Award nomination along with Warren Beatty for co-directing 1978’s “Heaven Can Wait.”
“Buck Henry was hilarious and brilliant and made us laugh more times than we even know,” comedy writer and producer Judd Apatow said in a statement posted to his Instagram account.
Apatow recalled appearing with Henry on a panel at South by Southwest.
“He said, ‘I don’t like to write with people because if they aren’t as funny as me I hate them, and if they are funnier than me I hate them,'” according to Apatow. “One of the greats.”
Before striking it big with “The Graduate” and “SNL,” Henry in 1965 joined forces with fellow comedy icon Mel Brooks to create the TV spy spoof “Get Smart” for NBC. He was nominated for two Emmys for the show, winning best comedy writing in 1967, shared the award with Leonard Stern.
Henry was born Henry Zuckerman in New York on Dec. 9, 1930. He took the nickname “Buck” from his grandfather, a stockbroker known for “bucking” the market, and legally changed his name in the 1970s.