Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rest In Peace, Red

Longtime comedian/actor Red Buttons died today, at the age of 87 years old.

Most people my age or younger probably don't even know who Red Buttons is. At best many youngsters might say, "Oh yeah, THAT guy. I know I've seen him somewhere...". And that is really a damn shame....

My father is a huge old movie buff, and it is probably no surprise that my love of cinema was blossomed by my father's influence. I directly hold him responsible for the reason I will stay up and watch TV at 3AM if I happen to see one of the old 30's/40's Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies on, or one of the even older Sidney Toler Charlie Chans. While other kids were watching Dukes of Hazzard, I was parked in front of the TV with my dad watching Maltese Falcon and old Alfred Hitchcock movies.

So, without question I have my father to thank for my love of Red Buttons. I am not going to go into his extensive list of movies and TV work (I'd like to go to bed SOMETIME tonight, thank you), but if you want to see all he did in his more-than-50-year career, you can check it out HERE.

For the most part, I am a pretty jaded person. I don't let much I hear of in the world affect me to any great degree, but losing a Hollywood icon like Red Buttons really upsets me. He was, from all accounts, an outstanding actor, as well as a real class act.

Being in my 30's, I of course wasn't around for the Golden Age of Hollywood. Most of those icons of yesteryear had long since passed by the time I became even aware of them. But there were three holdouts from that bygone era, that through their work on screen, and through the way they carried themselves in their personal life, that I have always had a great fondness and affection for. I can't say that I even understand this attachment I feel for these three men (it's not like I know any of them, or even met them for that matter), but feel for them I do, and as each one of them passes, I feel a great sadness envelop me as I can't help but feel that that magical age of Tinsletown has just moved a tad further into the annals of a lone gone age....

Three men. Three men who I have always admired for what they are, and what they have done. They are Jimmy Stewart, Red Buttons, and Mickey Rooney.

When Jimmy Stewart passed away in 1997, I remember being so upset that such a talented actor had left us. He was connected to so many of the late great Hollywood actors. I guess I always felt that, through Jimmy, those others long gone were still around, in some admittedly bizarre way.

Now Red has left us, and I again feel that sense of sadness for a man I had never met.
At least we still have Mickey Rooney with us, thank Moses. Every year when I see him sitting proudly at the Academy Awards, it always brings a smile to my face.

Do yourselves a favor tonight and go watch one of the great movies of Mr. Buttons that I linked to above. You just might begin to see what I've been rambling about.

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