Actor and comedian Aaron Chwatt, better known as Red Buttons, was born on February 5, 1919, in New York City. At the age of 16, he got a job working as a bellhop and a singer at a bar on City Island in New York State. His uniform and his flame-colored hair served as inspiration for his stage name “Red Buttons” — a name he would use for his entire career.
He perfected his craft at nightclubs and the theaters of the Catskills where he worked as a singer and a comedian. He joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and served in the entertainment unit. In 1952, he signed a deal to star in his own television program, “The Red Buttons Show”. Audiences responded enthusiastically to the show’s comedy sketches and the different characters Buttons played. The show also highlighted Buttons’s talents as a songwriter. Two of his most well-known creations are the songs “Strange Things Are Happening” and “Ho-Ho Song”. Lasting only three years, the show featured the works of many different comedy writers, such as Neil Simon, who later become famous in their own right.
Buttons died on July 13, 2006 in Los Angeles at the age 87 of vascular disease. A widower, he had been married three times. His first marriage was to Roxanne Arlen in 1947. His union with Helayne McNorton lasted from 1949 to 1963. In 1964 Buttons married Alicia Prats, who died in 2001. They had two children, Amy and Adam.