Lou Butera, December 2005
May 15, 1937|
|Died||June 26, 2015
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Parkinson's disease|
|Occupation||Professional pool player|
|Known for||BCA Hall of Fame|
Lou Butera (May 15, 1937 – June 26, 2015) was an American professional pool player (then retired and operated a pool hall) and an inductee into the Billiards Congress of America's Hall of Fame in 1986.
When Butera was 14 years old, he saw BCA Hall of Famer Edwin Rudolph in an exhibition match. From that point on, Lou devoted his life to billiards.
Throughout his career, Butera won many tournaments. He was runner-up to Irving Crane in the 1972 World Championship in Los Angeles. In 1973, he defeated Crane in the finals of the same event to win his first World Championship. Lou earned his famous nickname that same year when, in an exhibition with Allen Hopkins, he ran 150 straight balls in just 21 minutes, the moniker “Machine Gun” for his fast-paced style. He also won the Pennsylvania State Championship twice. Butera knocked off top players regularly in the 1970s with his trademark fast-paced style, which seemed to make the game of pool more exciting for the spectators.
In 1974, Butera won the All Japan title against the world's best, and also triumphed over Richie Florence to win the Bud Lundahl's Midwest Open, a straight pool tournament he won by a score of 150-68 in the title match. In 1991, Butera served as coach of the World Billiard Federation World Team, whose members included such luminaries as Nick Varner, Mike Siegel and Ray Martin. In a profile that appeared in the May/June, 1995 issue of Snap Magazine, he was referred to as "...the man who may be the fastest pool player the game has ever known."
Lou Butera was one of the 43 invited pool players who competed in the International Pool Tour's King of the Hill Shootout in Orlando, Florida, December 2005. Digitized videos of Butera demonstrating spectacular trick shots were included with the PC pool simulator Virtual Pool.
As an accomplished pool player, Butera has produced various instructional videos for students of pool about the fundamentals of the game.
Lou Butera appeared in several films as an actor and technical advisor. He had a cameo appearance, as himself, in the pool hustling comedy film The Baltimore Bullet and as a pool player in Police Academy 6: City Under Siege. Butera had a cameo appearance as pool player in, and was the pool technical advisor for, the 1984 film Racing with the Moon, starring Sean Penn. With a large family — he and his wife Caroline, who died in 2012, had seven children — Butera cut down on his tournament schedule choosing instead to run his pool room and work as a spokesman for Brunswick, a maker of high-end, crafted pool tables.
Butera also worked in radio and television as a technical consultant helping actors appear natural when the played pool on screen.
His clients included Tom Cruise, whose then wife Nicole Kidman paid $3,750 for the pool lessons; Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Martin Sheen and Michael Douglas whom he choreographed playing pool in a scene from the movie American President.
On the TV show “War of the Stars” in the 1980s Butera played pool against Don Adams, who played Maxwell Smart in “Get Smart,” and against Paul Sorvino. He also worked on “The Fall Guy,” “Married With Children” and “Living Single.”
He was also featured on the 1995 Virtual Pool CD Rom video game. In 1986 he was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.
In a way it can be said Machine Gun Lou Butera came full circle. Last month he was included as one of the 40 people on the Inspirational Mural in Pittston, just down Main Street from where he once annoyed the older pool players with his Ma’s soda box.
- 1973 World Champion
- 1974 U.S. Classic Pocket Billiard Championship
- 1974 All Japan Open
- 1981 ESPN King of the Hill Pool Championship, Sands Casino, (Las Vegas, Nevada)
- Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame
- The Snap Magazine, pages 12-13, May/June 1991
- "The Collectible Breed," Nick Stubbs, page 12, Snap Magazine. Retrieved August 4, 2007
- "Pot Shots", by Bruce Venzke, page 17, The National Billiard News, June 1980. Retrieved May 19, 2007
- Lou Butera, IPT player profile
- "Machine Gun Lou," Lou Butera Pictures
- Lou Butera, Actor, at the Internet Movie Database