RED BUTTONS Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Red Buttons                                                                       
Birth name: Aaron Chwatt                                                                 
Born: 5 February 1919 New York City, New York                                           
Died: 13 July 2006 Century City, Los Angeles, California                                 
Red Buttons (February 5, 1919 - July 13, 2006) was an American comedian and             
Red Buttons was born Aaron Chwatt on February 5, 1919 in New York City to               
Jewish immigrants. At sixteen years old, Buttons got a job as an entertaining           
bellhop at 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 man             
was Robert Alda. In 1939, Buttons started working for Minsky's Burlesque; in             
1941, José Ferrer chose Buttons to appear in a Broadway show The Admiral Had a         
Wife. The show was a farce set 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 of 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 Burlesque show in New York City history, as the Mayor La         
Guardia administration closed it down. Buttons was on stage when the show was           
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. Zanuck movie 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 phrase from 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, Japan during           
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               
He became a nationally recognizable comedian, and his "Never Got A Dinner"               
sketch was a standard at the Dean Martin roasts 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 Fame for 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, 1949 until         
1963. His last marriage was to Alicia Prats, which lasted from January 27, 1964         
until her death in March 2001. Buttons had two children, daughter Amy Buttons           
Norgress and son Adam Buttons. He was the advertising spokesman for the Century         
Village, Florida retirement community.                                                   
Buttons died of vascular disease on July 13, 2006 at his home in the Century             
City area of Los Angeles. He was 87 years old. Buttons had been ill for some             
time and was with family members when he passed away.