Buck Henry, screenwriter of “The Graduate”, dies at 89

The American screenwriter Buck Henry, screenwriter of the film The graduate (1967), died this Thursday at the age of 89 in Los Angeles (USA), as reported by the specialized media Deadline. Henry has passed away at Cedars-Sinai Health Center due to a heart attack.

Henry’s career (New York, 1930) revolved around his script for The graduate, the New Hollywood classic that, under the direction of Mike Nichols, featured a young and hesitant Dustin Hoffman before the seductive Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Henry received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for this film, but that statuette went to Rod Steiger for his work on In the Heat of the Night (1967).

Henry’s career revolved around his script for ‘The Graduate’, although he includes other notable films such as ‘What’s Up, Doc?’

The graduate received seven award nominations from the Hollywood Academy, although, finally, only the recognition for the best direction could be scored for Nichols. The official credits include Calder Willingham as a screenwriter, but it is a legal formality: Nichols discarded Willingham’s initial script and opted for Henry to write the film, but the former demanded (and obtained) from the Writers Guild that his name outside also included.

Henry’s career as a screenwriter includes other very prominent films such as What’s Up, Doc? (1972) by Peter Bogdanovich. He also sat in the director’s chair and, for example, co-directed the film with Warren Beatty. The sky can wait (1978), which starred Beatty himself alongside Julie Christie.

Buck Henry, in a more current image

DAVID LIVINGSTONE / AFP

This film gave Henry his second Oscar nomination, this time in the section for best director, although again he was left without an award: the award for best director went on that occasion to Michael Cimino for The Deer Hunter (1978). In addition, Henry was the co-creator with Mel Brooks of the popular television comedy Get Smart.

And on the small screen he was also very popular in the United States for being one of the usual personalities of Saturday Night Live in the early years of this extraordinarily long-running comedy show that has been running since 1975.