Pat Buttram (born Emmett Maxwell Buttram on June 19, 1915 – died January 8, 1994) was an gravelly-voiced actor that portrayed several characters, most notably the sidekick of Gene Autry, as well as "Mr. Haney" in Green Acres. Buttram was also performed the voices of several Disney characters including the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood. In Back to the Future Part III, he portrayed Jeb, an old-timer in the Palace Saloon. He had a distinctive voice which, in his own words, "... never quite made it through puberty. It has been described as sounding like a handful of gravel thrown in a Mix-Master".
Early life and career
Buttram was born in Addison, Alabama, to Wilson McDaniel Buttram, a Methodist minister, and his wife Mary Emmett Maxwell. He had an older brother named Augustus McDaniel Buttram, as well as five other elder siblings. When "Pat" Buttram was a year old, his father was transferred to Nauvoo, Alabama. Buttram graduated from high school in Jefferson County, then entered Birmingham–Southern College to study for the ministry. He performed in college plays and on a local radio station, before he became a regular on the "WLS National Barn Dance" in Chicago. Pat then went to Hollywood in the 1940s and became a "sidekick" to Roy Rogers. However, since Rogers already had two regulars, Buttram was soon dropped. He was then picked by Gene Autry, recently returned from his World War II service in the Army Air Force, to work with him. Buttram would co-star with Gene Autry in more than 40 films, and in over 100 episodes of Autry's television show.
Film and television career
Pat's first Autry film was Strawberry Roan in 1948. In the late 1940s, Buttram joined Autry on his radio show, Melody Ranch and then on television with The Gene Autry Show. During the first television season, Buttram went by "Pat" or "Patrick", with a variety of last names. From the second season on, he used his own name.
Voice over acting work
Pat did voice work for several Disney animated features, playing Napoleon (hound dog) in The Aristocats (1970), the Sheriff of Nottingham (a wolf) in Robin Hood (1973), Luke (swamp inhabitant) in The Rescuers (1977), Chief (hunting dog) in The Fox and the Hound in 1981 (which included Mickey Rooney as the voice of adult Tod), and one of the Toon bullets in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). He also had a recurring role as the voice of Cactus Jake on Garfield and Friends. Pat made the oft-quoted observation about the 1971 "rural purge", in which CBS cancelled many programs with a rural-related theme or setting: "CBS canceled everything with a tree — including Lassie."
Family life and personal
In 1936, Pat married the former Dorothy McFadden and adopted a daughter with her named Gayle but they divorced in 1946. In 1952, he married actress Sheila Ryan. They remained married until her death in 1975. They had a daughter named Kathrine (nicknamed Kerry) born in 1954. He retired from acting in 1980, and made his home in Winston County, Alabama. However, he soon returned to California, where he would make frequent personal appearances.
Death and legacy
Pat died of kidney failure in Los Angeles, California in 1994, aged 78. He was survived by his daughter Kerry Buttram-Galgano (who passed away from cancer in 2007) and two granddaughters: Natalie and Angie Galgano. He was buried in the cemetery at the Maxwell Chapel United Methodist Church in Haleyville, Alabama. Buttram was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and also by a star on the "Alabama Stars of Fame" in Birmingham, Alabama.
- Pat's birth name was Emmett, the same name as the Doc Brown character in the BTTF film series, portrayed by Christopher Lloyd.
- Pat's distinctive voice made him the target of several impressionists, especially cartoon voice actors.
- The Animaniacs cartoon (which Steven Spielberg was the executive producer of) The Warners and the Beanstalk, a parody of the fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, featured a caricature of Mr. Haney as the "Used Cow Salesman".
- Pat is credited as one of the writers on the Hee Haw television show in its early years.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode 1001, featuring the film, Soultaker, TV's Frank, after having been in "Second-Banana Heaven," returns as a soul-taker. As he recollects his time in "Second-Banana Heaven," he remarks, "Pat Buttram had it out for me from the beginning!"