Greetings Manic Fans. Les here to talk about butlers. You know, those caretakers who do so much more than just answer the door for the Master. In film and television, these are the characters who play a secondary role, but manage to steal the scenes they are in. Some are the conscience of their bosses. Others are the ones pulling the strings to be the power behind the throne, as it were. However, all of them leave a lasting impression. And so, hereâ€™s my top 12 favorite butlers in film and television.
Warning: Some spoilers and exceptional service ahead…
#12. Mr. Homm(Carel Struycken-Star Trek The Next Generation)
Getting the â€œbest plum assignment in the Galaxyâ€ award is Mr. Homm. As the butler/servant of Lwaxanna Troi(Majel Roddenberry) he makes sure all the details, pomp and ceremony are kept to the strictest Betazoid rules of etiquette….and there are thousands of them to keep him on his toes. He never speaks while performing his duties(and only had one line in the whole series â€œThank you for the drinksâ€ while getting on the transporter pad LOL!)
#11. Lurch(Ted Cassidy-The Addams Family)
â€œYou rang?â€ Can anyone whoâ€™s seen this show honestly say this wasnâ€™t an awesome character? A giant of a man with a deep bass voice, a penchant for playing the harpsichord and serving the Addams Family, Lurch always left a strong impression.
#10. Riff Raff(Richard Oâ€™Brien-The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Billed as a â€œHandyman,â€ in the opening credits, Riff Raff starts out the picture answering the door when Brad(Barry Bostwick) and Janet(Susan Sarandon) come around looking for a phone after their car breaks down. To say heâ€™s creepy would be a compliment. Kind of a cross between Doctor Frankensteinâ€™s Igor and Uncle Fester from the Addams Family, he does the bidding of the Master with a delightful monotone voice(until he loses his temper and then his scream is quite shrill). Sure, he turns out to be an alien from planet Transexual, but while heâ€™s here, heâ€™s an unforgettable butler.
#9. Wadsworth(Tim Curry-Clue)
In a film where itâ€™s quite possible that â€œThe butler did it,â€ Wadsworth played the butler to the hilt. Chewing up the scenery as only Tim Curry could do, this butler quickly takes charge of the murder investigation with a seriousness thatâ€™s ludicrous and hysterical given what everyone else is doing.
#8. Frau Blucher(Cloris Leachman-Young Frankenstein)
Here is the perfect example of a secondary character stealing the film with very little actual screen time. Now, Frau Blucher(Terrified horse whinny….)is the housekeeper/butler for the Frankenstein castle with a sordid past relationship with the late Victor that becomes a plot point in the film that will leave you laughing. She does everything with such a seriousness and intensity, sheâ€™ll leave you in awe.
#7. Mr. Belvedere(Christopher Hewett)
And then thereâ€™s this guy. English, but not stereotypically stuffy, Mr. Belvedere tends the Owens family with an almost gleeful wit for the one up challenge of staying ahead of them coming up with one zinger after another. Heâ€™s fun to watch.
#6. Oddjob(Harold T Sakata-Goldfinger)
I knew Iâ€™d have to include this memorable character from the James Bond lineup of villain henchmen, as heâ€™s not only a great butler/chauffeur/caddie, but a consummate hitman taking care of Auric Goldfingerâ€™s(Gert Frobe) enemies killing them with his special bowler hat. Although he never speaks, he nonetheless makes you remember him.
#5. Kato(Bruce Lee-The Green Hornet)
What could make a butler even better? Simple! Have his butler personae be an alter-ego to hide his true identity as the sidekick of a superhero…and this sidekick kicks absolute ass being portrayed by Martial Arts legend Bruce Lee.
#4. Cato(Burt Kwouk-A Shot in the Dark/The Return of the Pink Panther/The Pink Panther Strikes Again/Revenge of the Pink Panther)
And then, thereâ€™s the other â€œCato,â€ whoâ€™s the Chinese Manservant of Chief Inspector Jaques Clouseau(Peter Sellers). What makes him exceptional is the way goes above and beyond the normal butler duties and sneak-attacks the inspector to keep his fighting skills sharp on orders. And he takes that duty really seriously coming up with more and more clever ways to ambush his employer(leaping out of a refrigerator…dropping through the top canopy of a bed….dressed as a Geisha in a Japanese Restaurant…).
#3. Hobson(Sir John Gielgud-Arthur)
What would you get if you took a legendary Shakespearean Actor and made him the butler to a spoiled alcoholic 10 year old in a grown manâ€™s body? Answer: Youâ€™d get Hobson. Supremely in control, he never â€œloses itâ€ amidst the chaos surrounding his charge…well..ok, he does snap once to slap the little twerp and give him a good chewing out to snap him out of his woe is me funk…but otherwise he supplies the best sarcastic, yet, elegant one liner phrases youâ€™ll ever hear from a butler.
#2. Coleman(Denholm Elliott-Trading Places)
Employed by the Dukes(Don Ameche/Ralph Bellamy) to caretake over their protegee, Louis Winthorpe III(Dan Aykroyd) and then to his replacement, Billy Ray Valentine(Eddie Murphy), Coleman is the consummate gentlemanâ€™s valet, butler and chauffeur tending all the Masterâ€™s needs with English charm and elegance….which he maintains no matter whatâ€™s going on around him(Even during a wild party with drunken depravity and cheap prostitutes…). Now thatâ€™s dedication to the craft, my friends.
And my #1 favorite butler in film and television is…
#1. Alfred(Michael Gough-Batman/Michael Caine-Batman Begins)
Câ€™mon! You knew this butler was going to be on the list the moment you read the title, right? The hardest part was figuring out which Alfred to showcase…and then I realized I had to include them both, as they were unique and solid portrayals of the butler of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Both perform their duties with charm and grace. Both act as the conscience of Master Bruce and are indispensable allies of the Caped Crusader.
And thatâ€™s my top 12 favorite butlers in film and television. Did I miss any of your favorites? Iâ€™d love to hear who you loved, my friends. Peace.