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"Friends, Egyptians, henchmen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Batman, not to praise him."

- as King Tut from Batman (1966)

VICTOR BUONO

In the late 1970s and in 1980, Buono played the memory-impaired Reverend Jim's millionaire father on "Taxi". In actuality, he was only eight months older than Christopher Lloyd, who played Jim. Buono's death in 1982 was written into the series with an episode about Jim's father passing away.

Victor Buono was born on February 3rd, 1938 in San Diego, California, the son of Victor Francis Buono and Myrtle Belle.

His interest in entertainment was originally encouraged by his grandmother, Myrtle Glied (1886-1969), who had once been a vaudevillian on the Orpheum Circuit. It was she who taught Victor how to sing and recite in front of company.

His initial choice of career was somewhere in the direction of medicine but the pure joy he experienced from several high school performances (playing everything from Aladdin's evil genie to Hamlet himself) led him to dismiss such sensible thinking and take on the bohemian life style of an actor.

In 1959, a Warner Bros. agent happened to scope out the talent at the Globe Theatre and caught Victor's wonderfully robust portrayal of Falstaff (a role he would return to now and then) and gave him a screen test.

Looking older than he was, the studio set upon using Victor in weird and wacky ways, such as his bearded poet Bongo Benny in an episode of "77 Sunset Strip."

In 1962 Buono was cast by director Robert Aldrich to play Edwin Flagg, the creepy musical accompanist and opportunist who tries to use one-time child celebrity Bette Davis for his own piggy bank in the gothic horror classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (pictured below) He held his own beautifully opposite the scenery-chewing Davis and was nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar for his efforts. This role also set the tone for the increasingly deranged characters he would go on to play.

Cast as the title menace in The Strangler (1964), Victor delved wholeheartedly into the sick mind of a mother-obsessed murderer and offered a startling, tense portrayal of a child-like monster who gives new meaning to the art of "necking" with women. Director Aldrich used Victor again for his Southern-baked "Grand Guignol" horror Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) this time as Ms. Davis' crazed father. Victor also showed up in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) starring Max von Sydow where he flamboyantly took on the High Priest Sorak role in this epic but criticized retelling of Jesus.

He enhanced a number of lightweight 1960s movies including 4 for Texas (1963), Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964), The Silencers (1966), and Who's Minding the Mint? (1967) with his clever banter and gleeful menace.

Buono's hearty, scene-stealing antics dominated late 60s TV shows. Recurring madmen included his Count Manzeppi on the popular The Wild Wild West (1965) shows and King Tut who habitually wreaked havoc on Gotham City on Batman (1966). One could always find his unsympathetic presence somewhere on a prime-time channel ("Get Smart," "Perry Mason," "I Spy") but his roles ended up more campy than challenging. One heartfelt, serious portrayal, however, was his portrayal of President William Howard Taft in the epic TV mini-drama Backstairs at the White House (1979).

    Selected Victor Buono TVography

77 Sunset Strip

- 5 (1963)
- The Disappearance (1962)
- Bullets for Santa (1961)
- The Legend of Leckonby (1961)
- The Fanatics (1960)
- Created He Them (1960)

Alice

- The Last Review (1976)

Batman

- I'll Be a Mummy's Uncle (1968)
- The Great Train Robbery (1968)
- The Unkindest Tut of All (1967)
- A Horse of Another Color (1967)
- Batman's Waterloo (1967)
- King Tut's Coup (1967)
- Tut's Case Is Shut (1966)
- The Spell of Tut (1966)
- The Pharaoh's in a Rut (1966)
- The Curse of Tut (1966)

Daniel Boone

- The Ballad of Sidewinder and Cherokee (1967)

Ellery Queen

- The Adventure of the Two-Faced Woman (1976)

Fantasy Island

- With Affection, Jack the Ripper/Gigolo (1980)

The Flying Nun

- Sister Socko in San Tanco (1969)

Get Smart

- Moonlighting Becomes You (1970)

The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.

- The Phi Beta Killer Affair (1967)

Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

- A Haunting We Will Go (1977)

Hawaii Five-O

- The $100,000 Nickel (1973)

Hawaiian Eye

- Point Zero (1961)
- Dragon Road (1961)

Here's Lucy

- Lucy Gets Her Man (1969)

It Takes a Thief

- The Three Virgins of Rome (1969)

I Spy

- Turkish Delight (1966)

Man from Atlantis

- Crystal Water, Sudden Death (1977)
- Man O'War (1977)
- The Hawk of Mu (1977)
- The Mudworm (1977)
- Melt Down (1977)
- Man from Atlantis (1977)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

- The Deadly Goddess Affair (1966)

Mannix

- Search in the Dark (1973)

The Odd Couple

- The Rent Strike (1975)
- The Exorcists (1973)

Perry Mason

- The Case of the Twice Told Twist (1966)
- The Case of the Grinning Gorilla (1965)
- The Case of the Simple Simon (1964)
- The Case of the Absent Artist (1962)

Sea Hunt

- The Saint Story (1961)
- Underwater Drop (1960)

Supertrain

- Hail to the Chief (1979)

T.H.E. Cat

- Lisa (1967)

Taxi

- Going Home (1980)

The Tony Randall Show

- Case: The Ego Affair (1976)

The Untouchables

- The Gang War (1962)
- Mr. Moon (1961)

Vega$

- Seek and Destroy (1981)
- The Killing (1981)
- A Deadly Victim (1980)
- Black Cat Killer (1980)

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

- The Cyborg (1965)

The Wild Wild West

- The Night of the Feathered Fury (1967)
- The Night of the Eccentrics (1966)
- The Night of the Inferno (1965)

    Selected Victor Buono Filmography

1961

The Guns of Navarone

1962

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

1963

4 for Texas

My Six Loves

1964

Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Robin and the 7 Hoods

The Strangler

1965

Young Dillinger

1966

The Silencers

1969

Big Daddy

Boot Hill

1970

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

1971

The Mad Butcher

The Man with Icy Eyes

1972

The Wrath of God

1973

Arnold

1974

Moonchild

1977

Man from Atlantis (TV movie)

1978

The Evil

The Chinese Caper

1980

The Man with Bogart's Face

Target... Earth?

1981

The Flight of Dragons

Buono recorded a self-effacing comedy album ("Victor Buono: Heavy!") and even wrote comic poetry ("Victor Buono: It Could Be Verse". He was indeed a sought-after raconteur on daytime and nighttime talk shows and made several appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Buono was also a well-regarded gourmet chef and an expert on Shakespeare.

In the late 1970s and in 1980, Buono played the memory-impaired Reverend Jim's millionaire father on "Taxi". In actuality, he was only eight months older than Christopher Lloyd, who played Jim. Buono's death in 1982 was written into the series with an episode about Jim's father passing away.

The never-married actor felt compelled to conceal his homosexuality. He is quoted as saying, "I've heard or read about actors being asked the immortal question 'Why have you never married?'. They answer with the immortal excuse 'I just haven't found the right girl.' Because I'm on the hefty side, no one's asked me yet. If they do, that's the answer I'll give. After all, if it was good enough for Monty Clift or Sal Mineo."

Buono died of a massive heart attack at his ranch in Apple Valley, California on January 1st, 1982.

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