Beloved comedy writer and actor Buck Henry passed away at the age of 89. A dear friend of the Festival, Buck was a frequent panelist and our 1997 Distinguished Screenwriter award.
My own memories of Buck span back two decades. I first met him at a Writers Guild cocktail party in Los Angeles, and went home to recuperate from an evening of side-splitting laughs and the dizzying promise of a life-long friendship to come. Every meeting from there on out was peppered with crazy, untellable industry stories, an unparalleled generosity of spirit, and, notably, a wardrobe that proved a worthy match for his gumption. He always returned phone calls. His pockets always were adorned with various newspapers. He was equal parts an active observer and participant of the world.
Buck was one of my all time favorite guests to host at the Festival—a sentiment shared amongst registrants and panelists, alike. He embodied the quick-paced wit of New York, the laissez-“flair” of LA, and the solid character you seem to only find in the best of films (many of which he was responsible for writing).
Indeed, leave it to the screenwriter of The Graduate and What’s Up, Doc? and co-creator of Get Smart to ask to be dropped off at the Yellow Rose while here in Austin because it was the only place broadcasting a big boxing match. Leave it to the Academy Award nominee to spontaneously invite me to the Broadway production of ART while visiting in NYC, and then sneak me backstage to meet Harvey Korman and Robert Culp. Leave it to the 10-time host of SNL to hold camp in the Driskill bar and swap jokes and stories with aspiring writers, as if it was the only place in the world he wanted to be.
Leave it to Buck to leave wonderful memories and laughs to us, befitting antidotes during this time of mourning.
Here’s to you, Mr. Henry, and to all those you seduced with your charm and humor. Rest peaceful, dear friend.
-Barbara Morgan (Co-founder and Executive Director)