Victor Buono was an American actor and comic.
He was born Victor Charles Buono in San Diego, California. His maternal grandmother had been a Vaudeville performer on the Orpheum Circuit. When he was a little boy, she taught him songs and recitations and encouraged him to perform for visitors.
Even though the young Buono enjoyed the polite applause of those captive audiences, he thought he wanted to be a doctor. When he was sixteen at school in San Diego, he was cast as Papa Barrett in the play The Barretts of Wimpole Street. Buono appeared in three plays a year while attending high school. He soon forgot about having a medical career.
He started appearing on local radio and television stations, and at the age of eighteen he joined the Globe Theater Players in San Diego. The director had confidence in Buono and cast him in Volpone, A Midsummer Night's Dream and other Globe presentations. He received good notices for his various Shakespearean roles and in modern plays such as The Man Who Came To Dinner and Witness For The Prosecution.
In the summer of 1959, a talent scout from Warner Bros. saw the heavyset Buono play Falstaff at the Globe and took him up to Hollywood for a screen test. He made his first network TV appearance in an episode of 77 Sunset Strip. Over the next few years he appeared on numerous shows playing menacing heavies in just about every Grade 'A' private eye series. He also appeared on The Untouchables.
Because of his overweight stature, Buono usually played older characters. After appearing in a few motion pictures uncredited, he was cast by director Robert Aldrich in the psychological horror movie and camp classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) with screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. He played the part of the ne'er-do-well musical accompanist, Edwin Flagg.
Victor Buono was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
He appeared in Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) playing Big Sam Hollis, the father of Bette Davis, who had the title role, which was also directed by Aldrich. And he appeared in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).
Buono had a vast body of work in movies, and among his extensive TV appearances were roles in The Wild Wild West, Batman, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Perry Mason. He was in demand to play villains of various nationalities and ethnic origins on many shows between 1964 and 1970. In the early 1970s, Buono released some comedy record albums, which poked fun at his extra large stature. In the late 1970s and in 1980, Buono played the memory-impaired Reverend Jim's millionaire father on Taxi. Buorno died before the end of the series, and another actor continued the role.
As they say, he never married.
Victor Buono died of a heart attack at his ranch in Apple Valley, California.