Lord Buckley

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Lord Buckley (April 5, 1906 - November 12, 1960) was an American actor and comedian.


Richard Myrle Buckley worked as a lumberjack in the Californian forests during the 1920's. By the end of the 1920's he started working speakeasies in Chicago as Dick Buckley. During the Depression era of the early 1930's he worked with Red Skelton, as MC's for dance marathons and walkathons, His club work moved increasingly towards the jazz scene. By 1940 he was working at Chicago's Club DeLisa, a leading jazz venue with primarily black performers and clientele.

During the early 1940's he toured with the likes of Gene Krupa and Woody Herman. He was arrested for public drunkenness and fined in 1941. Buckley joined a touring show with Ed Sullivan, who becomes a close friend. He was arrested for marijuana possession in Chicago, during 1943, but charges were dismissed when Ed Sullivan intervenes.

Buckley moved to New York in the mid 1940's and played Broadway vaudeville shows. In 1949 Buckley appeared on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" television show.

By the 1950's he had fully developed his aristocratic Lord Buckley persona and as such maked several records firstly with Vaya Records and later with RCA. On August 8, 1955 Buckley appears on the "Tonight" show hosted by Steve Allen. He took part in the experiments with LSD during 1958-1959. His 1959 concerts at the Ivar Theatre, Los Angeles, recorded, later released by World Pacific Records as "Buckley's Best" and "The Bad Rapping of the Marquis de Sade".

Having moved to San Francisco in early 1960 Buckley got a booking to play at New York's Jazz Gallery for October 1960. On October 19, 1960 his "Cabaret Card" was revoked, and he himself removed from the stage and banned from performing by New York City Police, supposedly due to his previous arrests. It is widely believed it was revoked because Buckley failed to pay the required bribe. The Hearing on Buckley's Cabaret Card suspension was set for November 3, 1960 and attended by over thirty witnesses and journalists but adjourned and rescheduled for November 14.

Lord Buckley died on Saturday, November 12, 1960 after suffering a stroke aggravated by malnutrition and a kidney ailment.

On Sunday, November 13, 1960 enraged by the treatment of Lord Buckley a "Citizens' Emergency Committee" meets in the apartment of George Plimpton to fight the Police Department Cabaret Card system. The Hearing on Monday, November 14 is attended by a large number of writers, musicians and performers demanding the posthumous reinstatement of Buckley's cabaret card. The publicity about the hearing initiates a reform of the licensing system, the abolition of the "Cabaret Card," and the removal of Police Chief Kennedy.

In December 1960 a Memorial for Lord Buckley was held at The Village Gate in New York and is attended by many cultural luminaries. Dizzy Gillespie and Ornette Coleman both performed there.

Frank Zappa compiled an album of some of his work:

Lord Buckley - "A Most Immaculately Hip Aristocrat" (LP, Straight STS 1054, September 15, 1969).

See also