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Actor, writer and director Buck Henry at his desk, New York, New York, c. 1966. Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images

Buck Henry, writer-actor who helped pen 'The Graduate,' dies at 89

NEW YORK — Buck Henry, the versatile writer, director and character actor who co-wrote and appeared in "The Graduate, has died. He was 89.

Henry's wife, Irene Ramp, told The Washington Post that his death Wednesday in Los Angeles was due to a heart attack.

Henry acted in and co-directed "Heaven Can Wait." Henry and Mel Brooks helped created the classic 1960s spy sitcom "Get Smart."

Short and deceptively mild, wearing black-rimmed glasses, Henry was an established film and television writer who became widely recognizable during the early years of "Saturday Night Live." He hosted numerous times and played such memorable characters as the creepy baby-sitter Uncle Roy and the father of "Nerd" Bill Murray. His gift for satire and knowledge of current events fit perfectly with the brash outlook of the young cast and writers. "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels would praise Henry for teaching him "a whole other level of things.

"When Buck Henry came to the show, he carried The New York Times around with him the whole day, and he would read it A-1, A-2, A-3 — all in sequence," Michaels said in "Live From New York," an oral history published in 2002.

Henry was such a fixture on "SNL" that he was chosen to host the final show for seasons 2-5, from 1977-1980.

Earlier, Henry was known for "The Graduate," Mike Nichols' classic 1967 film that made a star of Dustin Hoffman. Henry and Calder Willingham adapted the script from the Charles Webb novel about a young man who has an affair with one of his parents' friends. Henry created a role for himself as the room clerk at the hotel.

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