Saturday, March 23, 2024

Green Acres' Mr. Haney


"CBS canceled everything with a tree in it - including Lassie."

Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram was born in Addison, Alabama, on June 19, 1915.  He was the son of a Methodist minister who would later study for the ministry himself, as a student at Birmingham-Southern College.

While studying for his degree however, Buttram began acting in school plays and appearing on local radio programs, eventually earning his own show on CBS. It was his ticket to Hollywood, where he landed in the 1940s, quickly finding work as a reliable character actor, often paired with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.

In 1965, Buttram landed the role for which he is most famously remembered, that of Eustace Haney on the CBS sit-com Green Acres.  It was canceled in 1971 in what is now known as the "rural purge."  CBS canceled a slew of series that featured a rural setting, including The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres.  Of the purge, Buttram once famously quipped "CBS canceled everything with a tree in it - including Lassie."

When the series ended, Buttram found steady work as a voice actor in several animated features with the Walt Disney Company.  He voiced Napolean in The Aristocats (1970), The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood (1973), and later, a Toon Bullet in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988). This blogger fondly remembers his role in Back to the Future Part 3, where he famously quipped "everyone will say Clint Eastwood is the biggest yellow-belly in the west."  You can watch a compilation of his finest hits on YouTube.

Buttram died of kidney failure at the UCLA Medical Center on January 8, 1994.  He was just 78 years old.  He was returned to his native Alabama, where he was laid to rest at Maxwell Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Double Springs.

Rest in peace, Mr. Haney.

  • The inscription on Buttram's headstone reads "A Man Deserves Paradise Who Can Make His Companions Laugh." This blogger attempted to find the origin of this quote, but there remains much online debate.  It is often attributed to the Koran, though there seems to be no direct passage as such.

  • In 2015, author Sandra Grabman released her biography on Buttram's life.  You can pick up a copy of Pat Buttram: The Rocking Chair Humorist from Amazon.

  • In 1982, Buttram founded the Golden Boot Awards to honor actors, stuntmen, and other Hollywood professionals working in the western genre.  The awards were eventually discontinued in 2007.

  • Buttram has both a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and another on the Alabama Stars of Fame walkway in Birmingham.

1 comment: