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‘The Graduate’ Screenwriter Buck Henry Dead At 89

Buck Henry and Teri Garr appear at the New York opening of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" in 1977. (Ira Schwarz/AP)
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Buck Henry was probably best known as the writer of The Graduate, but he was also co-creator of the spy comedy Get Smart.

His wife, Irene Ramp, told the Washington Post he died from a heart attack. He was 89.

The Graduate, based on a novella by Charles Webb, earned Henry an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

KPCC's John Horn said the writer put his comedic stamp on the 1967 Dustin Hoffman film, penning one of the film's most iconic and lasting lines of dialogue:

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“One word, are you listening?”

“Yes, sir I am.”


KPCC's Larry Mantle spoke with Henry on the 50th anniversary of The Graduate and asked how he had come up with it.

"Plastics, where did that idea come from?" Henry said. "Well, it didn't come from anywhere. I mean, it was just there. There were millions of words. I could've picked any other, but it just was like something I'd heard in my own life."

Henry got a second Oscar nod for Best Directing in 1979, when he was nominated alongside Warren Beatty for Heaven Can Wait.

As an actor, Henry hosted several episodes of Saturday Night Live during its early years and appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows, including a small recurring role on 30 Rock.

Henry was a sly comedian, both as writer and as performer, Horn said.

“Along with Mel Brooks he created Get Smart, a TV series that not only influenced a generation of screenwriters but also created a kind of tongue in cheek humor that made movies like Airplane possible,” Horn said.

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