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Frank Buxton, ‘Happy Days’ and ‘The Odd Couple’ Writer and Director, Dies at 87

Frank Buxton, a writer and director for “The Odd Couple” and “Happy Days,” has died as a result of heart issues in Bainbridge Island, Wash. He was 87.

According to Bainbridge Island-area outlet the Kitsap Sun, Buxton died Jan. 2 and had been battling heart problems for two years.

Buxton’s television career began as the co-host and producer for the ABC documentary series “Discovery” from 1962 to 1966. Buxton and co-host Virginia Gibson covered topics related to science, culture, history, and the arts, and would occasionally travel to on-site locations around the globe. The program was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding children’s program numerous times, and won in 1964.

After his time with “Discovery” ended, he created the animated television series “Batfink” along with friend Hal Seeger, which was a send up of the popular “Batman” and “Green Hornet” cartoons of the era. Buxton voiced the main character Batfink, an anthropomorphic grey bat with superpowers, throughout all 100 episodes of the show. The series was broadcast through the 1980s, as well as brief airings in the 1990s on Nickelodeon, and was a popular cult series in the U.K.

After “Batfink” ceased producing new episodes in 1967, Buxton began working with Paramount Television as a writer, director, and producer. He story edited the comedy anthology series “Love, American Style” and wrote seven episodes of ABC sitcom “The Odd Couple” starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.

His relationship with “Odd Couple” creator Garry Marshall continued, as he went on to work on “Mork & Mindy” and “Happy Days,” as well as appear in feature films “Beaches” and “Frankie and Johnny,” both of which Marshall directed. He also appeared in “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?” and “Overboard.”

Buxton’s eclectic career included the creation of children’s documentary TV series “Hot Dog” for NBC, which featured Woody Allen, Tom Smothers, Jonathan Winters, and Joanne Worley and won a Peabody Award in 1970. He also appeared on stage in his early career, alongside Buster Keaton in “Three Men on a Horse” and in “Bye Bye Birdie,” which toured across Australia for a year. Buxton played the same role that gained Dick Van Dyke notoriety, Albert Peterson.

Buxton moved to Bainbridge Island in 1989, where he was an active participant in local improv comedy troupe The Edge from 1995 through the end of his life. Buxton was also a noted philanthropic contributor to the area, with the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art auditorium named in his honor.

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