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Writer of 'The Graduate" and 'Get Smart' Buck Henry dies at 89

A family member confirmed to the entertainment news website Deadline that the writer-actor-director died at a California hospital.
Credit: AP
Actor Buck Henry arrives to the private screening of the "Children of Men" at the Museum of Modern Art, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006 in New York. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh)

LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. — Buck Henry, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director, co-creator of television's "Get Smart" and a frequent host of "Saturday Night Live" died of a heart attack today in Los Angeles. He was 89.

A family member confirmed to the entertainment news website Deadline that Henry died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Henry was nominated, along with co-writer Calder Willingham, for an Oscar in 1968 for "The Graduate," losing out to Stirling Silliphant for "In the Heat of the Night." Henry and Warren Beatty received a best director Oscar nomination in 1979 for "Heaven Can Wait," losing to Michael Cimino for "The Deer Hunter."

Henry and Mel Brooks were the creators of the spy spoof "Get Smart," which aired on NBC from 1965-69 and on CBS from 1969-70.

Henry hosted "Saturday Night Live" 10 times from 1976 to 1980. He held the record for hosting the show the most times until 1989 when it was broken by Steve Martin.

Henry was known to the show's fans for his many appearances with John Belushi in the "Samurai Delicatessen" sketches, including being cut by Belushi's sword in a 1976 episode, forcing him to finish the show wearing a bandage.

Henry also wrote the screenplay for the 1995 film "To Die For," starring Nicole Kidman and Matt Dillon.

Henry guest starred on the NBC comedy "30 Rock" in 2007 and 2010 as the father of Tina Fey's character,

"Buck Henry was hilarious and brilliant and made us laugh more times than we even know," filmmaker Judd Apatow wrote on Instagram. "I was lucky enough to be on a panel with him at (South by Southwest) and he was so funny. He said `I don't like to write with people because if they aren't as funny as me I hate them and if they are funnier than me I hate them.' One of the greats."