Robert S. Ensler Presents
A Tribute to Pat Buttram
Date of Birth
June 1915, Addison,
Date of Death
January 1994, Los
Angeles, California, USA. (kidney failure)
Maxwell Emmett Buttram
Height 6' (1.83 m)
Written by: Gus Buttram
Maxwell Emmett "Pat" Buttram, born June 19, 1915, in Addison, to Wilson McDaniel Buttram and Mary Emmett Maxwell. His brother was Augustus "Gus" McDaniel, born on June 21, 1913.
Pat's father entered the Methodist Ministry, being licensed from Maxwell Chapel Methodist Church in 1912. His first assignment was Addison Circuit, located in the eastern part of Winston County.
In 1916 the family moved to Nauvoo where his father pastored the Nauvoo Methodist Church. Pat attended school in several areas of North Alabama. After finishing high school at Moritimer Jordan, Jefferson County, he went to Birmingham Southern College to study for the ministry. He performed on a local radio station after he was spotted in a college play. His big break came when he went to the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, and was interviewed in the audience at the old "WLS National Barn Dance." This began his non-stop adventure into show business at the National Barn Dance. He did a regular comedy spot on the show for 13 years billed as the "Winston County Flash." Pat met Gene Autry here. Both were a part of the Barn Dance Radio Program which included Red Foley and the Hoosier Hotshots, Georgie Goble, and many others who went on to Hollywood fame.
When Pat left the WLS Barn Dance he went to Hollywood to be a sidekick to Roy Rogers. Since Rogers already had two sidekicks, Pat was dropped. It was then that his old friend Gene Autry picked him up as his sidekick with Pat using his own name, "Pat Buttram" in over 40 movies and a hundred or more episodes of the "Gene Autry Show" which aired from 1950 to 1956; he replaced Smiley Burnette. This was long before Pat's famous role on the television show "Green Acres" where he played the role of Mr. Eustace Charleston Haney, opposite Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor.
On December 26, 1952, Pat married actress Sheila Ryan, whom he had met on the set of "Mule Train." They were married until her death on November 4, 1975.
Pat's career spanned the media from radio, television, movies, and into animated characters of Walt Disney productions. Pat's voice appeared in such Walt Disney productions as Robin Hood, The Fox and the Hound, the Rescuers, and the Aristocats. Some of his other movies were "Twilight of Honor," "The Gattlin Gun," "Back to the Future III," 3 Elvis Presley films, "The Hanged Man," and "Roustabout." He also had roles in two of Alfred Hitchcock's movies, one of which, "The Jar," won Pat an Oscar nomination.
In 1980 Pat came back to Winston County to retire. He regained strength from a surgery and after three months returned to Hollywood where he continued personal appearances and his much sought after expertise as an "MC" and/or after dinner speaker.
Hollywood acknowledged Pat's contributions to the industry by awarding him a star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame." He was also honored by a star on the "Alabama Stars of Fame" in Birmingham, Alabama on 3rd Avenue in front of the Alabama Theater. Quoting Pat "Dad said if I continued in show business, I'd end up on the streets."
Pat had become something of a spokesman for the fading western character and created the "Golden Boot Annual Awards" many years ago to honor past contributors in the field as well as encouraging future western projects. One of the recipients of this award was former President Ronald Reagan.
On January 8, 1994, Pat Buttram died in California. He was brought back to Maxwell Chapel, the church that his grandparents organized in 1916.
The son of a circuit-riding Methodist preacher in rural Alabama, Pat Buttram became one of America's best-known comic entertainers. Pat left Alabama a month before his 18th birthday to attend the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. An announcer from radio station WLS was on hand to interview members of the crowd and settled on Pat as a typical visitor from the south. The interview that followed was anything but typical. Pat made a hit with his hilarious observations on the fair and was immediately offered a job with the station. This led to a long and happy association with the popular National Barn Dance program. During those years, Pat met Gene Autry, who took a liking to the young comic and later brought him to Hollywood to replace Smiley Burnette, who had found other work while Gene served in WWII. Together, Pat and Gene made many western films and a television series, "The Gene Autry Show" (1950), which aired from 1950 until 1956. They remained close friends until Pat's death in 1994. In 1952, Pat married actress Sheila Ryan, whom he had met on the set of Mule Train (1950). Over the next forty years, Pat prospered in radio, films and television, making stand-up appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and lending his vocal talents to many animated television shows and films, including several Disney features. In the early Sixties, he revealed a flair for dramatic acting when Alfred Hitchcock tapped him for roles in two "Alfred Hitchcock Hour" episodes. His big television break came in 1965 with the role of "Mr. Haney" in the long-running CBS series, "Green Acres" (1965). Throughout his career, Pat was in constant demand as a toastmaster and after dinner speaker, where his agile and sophisticated wit belied his ingenuous appearance. In 1982, Pat founded the Golden Boot Awards to honor actors, directors, stunt people and other industry professionals who have made significant contributions to the Western film genre. Proceeds from the annual event are donated to the Motion Picture Health and Welfare Fund.
Buttram, Pat: KNX, 1961-65; KGBS, 1966; KMPC, 1989-93. Pat was sidekick to Gene Autry for almost five decades. Born Maxwell E. Buttram in Alabama, he was the son of a circuit-riding minister and studied theology at Birmingham Southern College. He rode at Melody Ranch with Autry, portrayed a shrewd landowner on tv's Green Acres and was an omnipresent master of ceremonies for many Los Angeles organizations. Pat died January 8, 1994, of kidney failure. He was in his 80s.
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