Remembering Buck Henry’s life in Ragtime: Notes from Larry Melton and Ed Berlin

From Larry Melton: When I read that Buck Henry died on January 8th, I remembered fondly the night we first met in Sedalia at a Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival.  If you read Buck’s obituary, you will be nearly overwhelmed by his achievements as a movie and motion picture writer, actor and director. However, I knew him as an amateur ragtime musician and an avid fan of and ambassador for ragtime music. I was sitting in the Matthewson Exhibition Center at a ragtime program, when a friend said, “There’s someone you should meet over here.” We walked over to another table in the dimly lit auditorium and I instantly recognized one of my favorite screen writers and early Saturday Night Live television personalities sitting there enjoying the program. Buck Henry graciously made room for us and I enjoyed one of the nicest evenings I ever spent in Sedalia. Buck had been a ragtime “junkie” since he was in college and his longtime friendship with another ragtime enthusiast, actor George Segal only encouraged his interest.  Segal and Henry even tried their hand at performing novelty ragtime together on occasion.  No doubt their performances were inspired by Buck having seen Ia
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Larry Melton was a founder of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in 1974 and the Sedalia Ragtime Archive in 1976. He was a Sedalia Chamber of Commerce manager before moving on to Union, Missouri where he is currently helping to conserve the Ragtime collection of the Sedalia Heritage Foundation. Write him at [email protected].

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