(August 31, 1924 – June 30, 2003) Buddy Hackett (birth name Leonard Hacker) was one of the better-known actors and comedians in the entertainment world.
Hackett lived next door to future baseball player Sandy Koufax. He once served in the U.S. Army during World War II, as well as serving in an anti-aircraft battery.
His career as a comedian began after the war, when he worked at a nightclub in Brooklyn. It was there that he officially changed his name from Leonard Hacker to Buddy Hackett.
Through the years, Hackett has appeared on Broadway, performed stand-up comedy on stage, and starred in several movies and television shows spanning five decades. During those times, he also made guest appearances on talk shows, like those of Jack Paar, Arthur Godfrey and Johnny Carson, and appeared on the game shows What's My Line? and The Hollywood Squares. He was the second host of You Bet Your Life.
Hackett died at his beach house in Malibu, California, on June 30, 2003, due to complications from diabetes, because of his overweight physique. However, his son, Sandy Hackett, has been starring in film and television even after his father's death.
His more notable roles in film and TV include:
- The Music Man: as Marcellus Washburn
- It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: as Benjy Benjamin
- The Love Bug: as Tennessee Steinmetz
- Jack Frost: as Pardon-Me Pete, the groundhog
- The Little Mermaid: as Scuttle
- Paulie: as Artie, the pawnbroker
- Action: as Uncle Lonny
Buddy Hackett is associated with these tropes:
- Big Fun
- Borscht Belt: His style of comedy.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Most of his roles.
- Fat Idiot: A few of his roles fall into this trope.
- Large Ham
- What Could Have Been: Was set to appear in the documentary The Aristocrats(as was Rodney Dangerfield), but died before his parts could be filmed.
- He was approached to replace Curly Howard in The Three Stooges following Curly's stroke, but he declined.