Actor, writer and director Buck Henry died Jan. 8 at the age of 89. Known for co-creating with Mel Brooks Get Smart and and earning two Oscar nominations, for co-writing The Graduate and co-directing Heaven Can Wait, Henry also played a key role in the early, formative years of Saturday Night Live. In SNL’s first original following Henry’s death, the show honored Henry with a card that aired after Weekend Update.
Henry hosted the long-running NBC sketch program ten times between 1976 and 1980, making him the show’s most frequent host during its initial five-year run — regularly presiding over SNL‘s season finales — and the first member of the Five-Times Club. Forty years later, his 10 stints remain the fourth most ever for a SNL host.
Among his memorable recurring characters on the show were the Samurai interviewer/straight man alongside John Belushi; the creepy Uncle Roy, who menaced children he was babysitting; a sadistic stunt coordinator; and Mr. Dantley, the father of Bill Murray’s uber-nerd Todd in the latter’s famous sketches with Gilda Radner.
One of Henry’s most talked about skits was Samurai Stockbroker alongside then-cast member Belushi, which aired in the October 30, 1976 episode. In it, Belushi accidentally hit Henry in the forehead with his katana. (you can watch the sketch here.) Henry began to bleed and was forced to wear a large bandage on his forehead for the rest of the show. As a gag, the the SNL cast members wore bandages on their foreheads as well.
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