Red Buttons (born Aaron Chwatt; February 5, 1919 – July 13, 2006) was an American comedian and Academy Award winning actor.
In September 1942, Buttons made his Broadway debut in Vickie. Later that year, he appeared in the Minsky’s show Wine, Women and Song; this was the last classic Burlesque show in New York City history, as the mayor’s administration closed it down. Buttons was on stage when the show was raided.
Drafted into the U.S. Army Air Forces, Buttons in 1943 appeared in the Army Air Forces’ Broadway show Winged Victory. A year later he appeared in the movie version of Winged Victory. Buttons also entertained troops in the same unit as Mickey Rooney.
After the war, Buttons continued to do Broadway shows. In 1952, he received his own variety series on television, The Red Buttons Show, which ran for three years. In 1953, he recorded and had a two-sided hit with Strange Things Are Happening / The Ho Ho Song, with both sides / songs essentially being the same.
His role in Sayonara was a dramatic departure from his previous work. In that film, he played Joe Kelly, an American airman stationed in Japan during the Korean War, who marries a Japanese woman, but is barred from taking her back to the U.S.. His moving portrayal of Kelly’s calm resolve not to abandon the relationship impressed audiences and critics alike; both he and his female co-star, Miyoshi Umeki, won supporting actor and actress Academy Awards for the film.
After his Oscar-winning role, Buttons performed in numerous feature films. In 1966, Buttons again starred in his own TV series, a spy spoof which ran for one season. He also made many memorable guest TV appearances on programs including Little House on the Prairie, ER, Roseanne and Knots Landing.
Red became a nationally recognizable comedian, and his “Never Got A Dinner” routine was a standard of The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast for many years. He was number 71 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for television, his star being located at 1651 Vine Street.
Strange Things are Happening
The Ho Ho Song