LOS ANGELES - Red Buttons, the carrot-topped burlesque comedian who became a top star in early television and then won a 1957 Oscar with a surprising dramatic turn in "Sayonara," died Thursday. He was 87.
Buttons died of vascular disease at his home in the Century City area of Los Angeles, publicist Warren Cowan said. He had been ill for some time, and was with family members when he died, Cowan said.
With his eager manner and rapid-fire wit, Buttons excelled in every phase of show business, from the Borscht Belt of the 1930s to celebrity roasts in the 1990s.
His greatest achievement came with his "Sayonara" role as Sgt. Joe Kelly, a soldier in the post-World War II occupation forces in Japan whose romance with a Japanese woman (Myoshi Umeki, who also won an Academy Award) ends in tragedy.