Unsung actors: Victor Buono

We come to praise King Tut, not to bury him.

Likewise, Count Manzeppi.

If you’re hep to the character actors we loved to watch on TV in the 1960s, you know I’m talking about Victor Buono, who received an Oscar nomination for “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” in 1962 but is best remembered among some of us for his TV roles.

In “Batman,” he played a mild-mannered professor who, upon getting hit on the head, became the Egyptian-themed crime boss King Tut. Every guest-starring turn ended up with King Tut getting hit on the head again and reverting to his kindly professor persona.

And on “Wild Wild West,” he was the aforementioned count, foil to Secret Service agents Jim West and Artie Gordon.

Buono had a second act, of sorts, in the 1970s as a talk show guest, usually on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.

Buono was a witty fellow and often read his poetry while on the Carson show.

Here, from online sources, is his magnum opus, “The Fat Man’s Prayer.”

I think that I shall never see… my feet.

I think it only proper to end this portion of our discussion with a prayer.

Lord, my soul is ripped with riot,

Incited by my wicked diet.

We are what we eat, said a wise old man,

And Lord, if that’s true, I’m a garbage can!

I want to rise on Judgment Day, that’s plain,

But at my present weight, I’ll need a crane!

 

So grant me strength that I may not fall

Into the clutches of cholesterol.

May my flesh with carrot curls be sated

That my soul may be polyunsaturated.

And show me the light that I may bear witness

To the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.

 

At oleomargarine I’ll never mutter,

For the road to hell is spread with butter.

And cake is cursed, and cream is awful,

And Satan is hiding in every waffle.

Mephistopheles lurks in provolone,

The devil is in each slice of bologna,

Beelzebub is a chocolate drop,

And Lucifer is a lollipop!

 

Give me this day my daily slice –

But cut it thin and toast it twice.

I beg upon my dimpled knees,

Deliver me from Jujubees.

And my when days of trial are done

And my war with malted milks is won,

Let me stand with the saints in heaven

In a shining robe – Size 37!

 

I can do it, Lord, if you’ll show to me

The virtues of lettuce and celery.

If you’ll teach me the evils of mayonnaise,

The sinfulness of hollandaise

And pasta a la milanese

And potatoes a la lyonaise

And crisp fried chicken from the south!

Lord, if you love me, SHUT MY MOUTH!

 

Buono, who cut a hefty figure, died of a heart attack in 1982. Luckily we can remember him from his movie and TV roles and his funny and good-natured poetry.

 

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