Can the Butler Do It?

It is not very often that we see back-to-back appearances in the championship game of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  It is even less likely by a team considered an underdog in both years.  Last year, Butler was The Cinderella Story making it to the championship game from a number five seed.  This year they have done it again coming from the number eight seed.  If they succeed in winning the game, they will tie the record set by Villanova in 1985 as the lowest seed to win.  In honor of this accomplishment, I present the following:

My Top Ten Favorite Butlers

#10 –  Sabastian Cabot  –  Mr. French in A Family Affair

I am showing a little age with this pick, but Mr. French is the classic idea of what a butler should look and act like.  I am a bit too young to have watched A Family Affair in its original run, but it was a staple of my childhood, playing in syndication on WGN back-to-back with The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.  The premise of the series was that a wealthy confirmed bachelor, played by Brian Keith, becomes the guardian of his brother’s three children after a fatal car accident.  It is quite an adjustment for “Uncle Bill” and much of the care taking of the kids, Cissy and twins Buffy and Jody, is left to Mr. French.  In typical 1960’s style, the series was pretty sappy, but it did spawn the very popular Mrs. Beasley doll that could be found in many houses at that time, including ours.

#9  –  Cadbury  – Richie Rich comic books and cartoon

Forget the incredibly bad 1994 film.  By the time it was made, Macaulay Culkin was already way past his cute days of Uncle Buck and Home Alone.  There is a reason why this was his last film as a child actor, and it was probably one or two too many.  Cadbury, who’s full name was Herbert Arthur Runcible Cadbury, was the animated butler in the Richie Rich comic books and the 1980’s cartoon series.  Like Mr. French, he was the classic and perfect butler, and always available to lend a hand whenever his young squire needed him.  Almost any jam that young Master Rich found himself in could be instantly alleviated by Cadbury’s timely arrival.

#8  –  Lurch  –  The Addams Family

Originally conceived as a nameless member of cartoonist Charles Addams one panel newspaper cartoon, Lurch is best known from the 1960’s series, where his signature “You rang?” was pretty much the only understandable line he spoke during the show.  He was played with Frankenstein like perfection by actor Ted Cassidy for the entire run of the series.  In the 1990’s, Lurch and the Addams family made a comeback in a series of movies, and most recently, a musical based on the original newspaper strip has been developed.  I’m not sure if Lurch does any singing, but I would assume he would be the bass.

#7  –  Tim Curry  –  Wadsworth in the movie Clue

When Clue was released in 1985, it had a great advertising gimmick.  Because the movie was based on a board game that could produce many different conclusions, there were three alternate ending to the film, and a different final reels could be seen depending on where you saw the movie.  In the end, the gimmick was not enough to produce a hit, and Clue didn’t even recoup it’s $15 million budget in the original release.  But in the early days of VHS it did gain an audience with home rentals.  Personally, I don’t think it was a bad movie, and certainly Tim Curry makes the film even more enjoyable.

#6  –  Sir John Gielgud  –  Hobson in Arthur

Don’t even get me started on the new remake of Arthur.  I will reserve judgment until after I hear what people like Roger Ebert say about the film, but the chances of me seeing the film is almost non-existent.  I am not really a fan of Russell Brand, heck, I wasn’t much of a fan of Dudley Moore either, but without John Gielgud, who won an Academy Award for this role, there just isn’t a movie worth watching.  I’m sure Helen Mirren, an Academy Award winner herself, will do a fine job as a female version of Hobson, but do yourself a favor and pass up on the remake.  Instead go out and find a copy of the original to watch.  That is if you can find an open Blockbuster somewhere.

#5  –  Richard O’Brien  –  Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Mr. O’Brien not only starred in the cult movie classic, but he also wrote and appeared in the original stage show upon which the movie was based .  Although I would not call Riff Raff a typical butler, he is certainly a fitting man-servant for any Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania.  In the end, he and his sister, Magenta, are not all that they seem, but what is in this film?  By the end of the movie, the servants become the masters.  Mr. O’Brien is still working today, But in a somewhat different form.  He is a voice on one of my favorite children’s show, Phineas and Ferb.

#4  –  Robert Guillaume  –  Benson DuBois

Before he took his job at the Governor’s Mansion, Benson was the Tate Family butler on the very funny Soap.  As his character developed on his own show, Benson sort of lost what made him such a great character in the first place.  On Soap, whenever the doorbell rang, all the action would stop and everyone would look at Benson.  After a second when Benson realized he was the center of attention, he would always speak up with the line, “You want me to get that?”  And it was funny every time.  Now that’s my type of butler.

#3  –  Denholm Elliott  –  Coleman in Trading Places

The movie Trading Places made Eddie Murphy a star, but much like the butler in my number six choice, Colman is the true star of this film.  It is a great story and a fun film, and Mr. Elliott does an amazing job at bridging the two worlds of Dan Akroyd’s Winthorpe and Murphy’s Billy Ray Valentine.  And once again the servant comes out on top in the end as Colman helps to bring down the careless Duke brothers.

#2  –  Kevin Butler  –  The Chicago Bears

What kind of Chicago sports fan would I be if I left my town’s most famous sports butler off this list?  Known simply as Butt Head to his teammates and his fans, Kevin was the placekicker for the 1985 Superbowl XX champion Chicago Bears.  He is also the all time leading point scored leader for the Bears, surpassing Walter Payton by over 350 points.  Besides his 11 years with the Bears, and 13 years overall in the NFL, Mr. Butler is also the only kicker ever to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.  If his fans have any say in the matter, he will also someday be in the Pro Football Hall.

#1  –  Alfred Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth  –  Bruce Wayne’s Butler

Arguably the most famous and most portrayed butler in all fiction.  Alfred first appeared in the pages of Batman #16 in the spring of 1943, and first appeared on film that same year in the Batman movie house serial.  He has been a character in comic books and novels and been featured on both television and in films.  Notably, he has been portrayed by a variety of actors from Alan Napier, who played Alfred in the 1960’s live action Batman series with Adam West, to Michael Cain in the most recent Batman movies starring Christian Bale.  Nowhere else in fiction or in the real world will you find a butler with more credentials.

On one final note, I know there are many other butlers out there, but these were my personal top ten.  I never really watched The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and when Molly watches the re-runs on Nick at Night, I really find nothing appealing about the show, so Geoffrey was not one of my choices.  But if you feel like adding a few of your own, please do so.  But for now all that is left to say is…..

Go Butler!



8 responses to “Can the Butler Do It?

  1. Go DAWGS!!!!

  2. No Mr Belvidere? You are old!

  3. And the dead butler from The Shining!

  4. I can’t think of a famous butler right now,but I know I know several from the 40’s and fifty’s and theres always that famous line”THE BUTLER DID IT” GO DAWGS

  5. Joseph Marcell as Geoffrey Butler in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Besides the fact he is cool as hell (he called everyone Master and Miss – and had the nickname “G”), his last name is actually Butler! Total dismay and horror at the lack of this fine butler on your list. Ball was dropped on this one!

  6. Max – from Hart to Hart
    Wilkins – butler to Mr. and Mrs. Topper
    Saunders – replaced Benson DuBois on Soap

  7. Oh my gosh,THE BUTLER DIDN’T DO IT….

  8. From your lovely wife-
    Does a manservant count? The Butler / Servant / CIA agent from Fletch Lives was AWESOME!

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