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Remembering Buck Henry

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

People who write words for a living feel lucky to have any of them remembered. Buck Henry, who wrote thousands of words and screenplays, including "Heaven Can Wait" and "Catch-22" and television programs and sketches, set up one familiar word to be unforgettable. Mike Nichols' 1967 film, "The Graduate," he wrote the scene in which an old family friend takes a young Ben, played by Dustin Hoffman, aside for a chat about his future. Ben, he says, I just have one word for you.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GRADUATE")

WALTER BROOKE: (As Mr. McGuire) Just one word.

DUSTIN HOFFMAN: (As Benjamin Braddock) Yes, sir.

BROOKE: (As Mr. McGuire) Are you listening?

HOFFMAN: (As Benjamin Braddock) Yes, I am.

BROOKE: (As Mr. McGuire) Plastics.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MRS. ROBINSON")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson.

SIMON: Buck Henry was a bespectacled and buttoned-down man with a wild, lively, and unshackled mind. He once posed as the president of a group that wanted to clothe animals with the motto, a nude horse is a rude horse. It was convincing enough to get on the CBS Evening News. He said writing jokes for scores of different comics sharpened his wits to write different voices in his script. He did character bits in a few movies and was one of the early hosts of "Saturday Night Live." Buck Henry died this week at the age of 89. What can you say but plastics?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MRS. ROBINSON")

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL: (Singing) Look around you all you see are sympathetic eyes. Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home. And here's to you Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know. Whoa, whoa, whoa. God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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