Obituary: Lillian Hamilton Butner
Lillian Hamilton Butner of Montclair, who provided one-to-one assistance to world-famous television and music personalities as head wardrobe supervisor at CBS, died on Dec. 3, 2021, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 96.
Mrs. Butner, also known as Lilly Rose or Aunt Lil, was born to Clarence and Amanda Hamilton in 1925 in Montclair, the youngest of six children.
She attended and graduated from the Montclair public schools.
Shortly after graduating, she met and married Sgt. Walter “Fred” Smith. Together, they enjoyed traveling throughout Europe and, especially, residing in France.
Upon returning to the United States, still a very young woman, Mrs. Butner was hired by CBS Television Studios in New York City as an assistant helper behind the scenes. Her hard work, impeccable appearance, poise and determination gained her recognition, and she went on to become the head wardrobe supervisor at CBS.
She remained there for 45½ years, until her retirement in 1993.
During her tenure at CBS, Mrs. Butner was assigned to provide one-to-one assistance to top television and musical personalities. She worked for many years with the casts from numerous soap operas — “As the World Turns,” “Guiding Light,” “One Life to Live” and “General Hospital” among them. In addition, she worked behind the scenes for numerous other television shows, including “Captain Kangaroo,” various news programs, musical specials, telethons and more.
Over the years she received high accolades and awards from both CBS and individual celebrities. She had a beautiful collection of signed thank-you cards and photos from celebrities such as Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante, Pearl Bailey, Billie Holiday, Dan Rather, Nat King Cole, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Jerry Lewis, Geraldo Rivera, Harry Belafonte and many others.
She later remarried, to William “Bill” Butner, and lived in East Orange with their dog, Boots, until her husband’s passing. Afterward she moved back to her hometown of Montclair, where she resided until her death.
Mrs. Butner will always be remembered for being a class act. Throughout the years following her retirement from CBS, she continued to lavish herself in the very best quality fashions and always looked good as she told of her glory days at CBS surrounded by the stars. She loved every bit of attention she got.
She enjoyed casinos, telling jokes and having a ‘‘drinky-poo’’ with Johnny Walker Black, partying at The Lounge and gathering with friends. Her favorite saying was “From your mouth to God’s ears.”
She is survived by a host of nieces, nephews, family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and acquaintances.
Services were private.
Arrangements were by Caggiano Memorial Home for Funerals.