Buddy Hackett


Actor, Comedian
Buddy Hackett

About

Also Known As
Leonard Hacker
Birth Place
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Born
August 31, 1924
Died
June 30, 2003
Cause of Death
Natural Causes

Biography

Best known for his raunchy Las Vegas routine, Buddy Hackett has also enjoyed substantial Broadway, film and TV success throughout the years. A short round kid with a smart mouth, he had every intention of going into the family upholstering business, despite having made his professional debut on the 'Borscht Circuit' at the age of 15, but upon returning to New York after World War II serv...

Photos & Videos

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm - Color Publicity Stills
The Love Bug - Movie Poster

Family & Companions

Sherry Cohen
Wife
Married on June 12, 1955.

Bibliography

"The Naked Mind of Buddy Hackett
Buddy Hackett, Nash Publishing (1974)
"The Truth about Golf, and Other Lies"
Buddy Hackett, Doubleday (1968)

Notes

Hackett serves as one of the Proctors (along with Billy Crystal) of the Friars Club

"He's a legend. Where other guys were just buying jokes, he was telling stories about things that really happened to him. He was off-color [in the early '60s] when people weren't really doing that. He wasn't up there saying, 'Take my wife, please'; he just went up there and told the truth. He was a torchbearer." --Jay Mohr on co-star Hackett, quoted in TV GUIDE, October 23, 1999

Biography

Best known for his raunchy Las Vegas routine, Buddy Hackett has also enjoyed substantial Broadway, film and TV success throughout the years. A short round kid with a smart mouth, he had every intention of going into the family upholstering business, despite having made his professional debut on the 'Borscht Circuit' at the age of 15, but upon returning to New York after World War II service, he began performing at clubs like the Pink Palace in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Headlining at comedy clubs led to a starring role in the hit road production of "Call Me Mister" (1946) and his first foray into TV on the DuMont Network's "School House" (1948-49). Hackett first cracked features in "Walking My Baby Back Home" (1953) and took Broadway by storm in the revival of "Lunatics and Lovers," winning the 1955 Donaldson Award for Best Debut Performance--Male. He then returned to TV in a live situation comedy, starring opposite Carol Burnett and Paul Lynde as "Stanley" (NBC, 1956-57), the outgoing proprietor of a newsstand in a fancy New York hotel. Hackett's shtick featured a wide range of facial expressions and a distinctive voice often delivered out of the side of his mouth, but in "God's Little Acre" (1958), Anthony Mann's adaptation of the Erskine Caldwell novel, he brought a real depth to his role as the whimsical, ridiculed Pluto. A regular on CBS' "The Jackie Gleason Show" during the 1958-59 season, he also started simultaneously contributing to "The Tonight Show," starring Jack Paar, where he remained a regular until 1962. Hackett was back at his zaniest as a Chickisaw Indian sailor who mates a turkey with a pelican in the lightweight "All Hands on Deck" and remained a simple seaman for the equally slight "Everything's Ducky" (both 1961), this time sharing a series of juvenile misadventures with Mickey Rooney and a talking duck. He followed with the popular screen version of the hit musical "The Music Man" (1963), restraining himself for the sake of the story in his role as Marcellus Washburn, and then pulled out all the stops for Stanley Kramer's madcap blockbuster "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (1963), scoring mightily in his runaway aircraft sequence with Rooney.

Though Vegas began demanding most of his time, Hackett surfaced periodically during the late 60s and 70s, perhaps most notably as Dean Jones' balmy-but-sensible sidekick in Disney's hit "carmedy," "The Love Bug" (1968), but he also delivered an emotionally affecting portrayal of Lou Costello in the NBC biopic "Bud and Lou" (1978). 1980 found him filling Groucho's old shoes as host of a new, syndicated "You Bet Your Life," and he began exploring a new career as the voice of Pardon Me Pete and the Storyteller for that year's animated "Jack Frost" (NBC). Hackett unveiled his Vegas act for TV in "Buddy Hackett--Live and Uncensored" (HBO, 1983) and "Buddy Hackett II--On Stage at Caesar's Atlantic City" (HBO, 1986), executive producing both specials, and hit feature pay dirt again, first in his bit as Scrooge for the Bill Murray vehicle "Scrooged" (1988) and later as the voice of Scuttle the seagull in Disney's animated "The Little Mermaid" (1989) and its straight-to-video sequel in 2000. Stage fright forced him to retire his live act in 1996, but he played a small role as a pawnbroker in "Paulie" (1998) and then returned to series TV in the recurring role of Jay Mohr's favorite uncle and chauffeur in Fox's "Action" (1999), a controversial look at the life of a Hollywood executive that earned critical praise but failed to attract an audience. Mohr next tapped Hackett to serve as a talent judge on his hit stand-up comedy reality series "Last Comic Standing" (2003), while other contemporary members of the Industry embraced Hackett's old school yet ageless charm, and the comic appeared on several series, including "Just Shoot Me" and "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" and a recurring bit called "Tuesdays With Buddy" on "The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn" before his death in 2003.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)
Voice Of Scuttle
Paulie (1998)
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Voice
Scrooged (1988)
Jack Frost (1988)
Narration
Hey Babe! (1984)
Sammy Cohen
Loose Shoes (1981)
Himself
Jack Frost (1980)
Narration
Jack Frost (1980)
Voice Of Story Teller/Pardon Me Pete
Bud and Lou (1978)
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (1969)
The Love Bug (1969)
Tennessee Steinmetz
Muscle Beach Party (1964)
S. Z. Matts
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
Benjy Benjamin
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)
Hans
The Music Man (1962)
Marcellus Washburn
Everything's Ducky (1961)
Admiral John Paul Jones
All Hands on Deck (1961)
Shrieking Eagle Garfield
God's Little Acre (1958)
Pluto Swint
Fireman Save My Child (1954)
Smokey [Hinkle]
Walking My Baby Back Home (1953)
"Blimp" Edwards

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal (1985)
Assistant

Cast (Special)

100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time (2004)
The Nightclub Years (2001)
Interviewee
Let Me In, I Hear Laughter: A Salute to the Friars (1999)
The 1999 MTV Video Music Awards (1999)
Presenter
Merv Griffin: Master of the Game (1998)
Interviewee
Rodney Dangerfield: Respect at Last (1998)
Interviewee
The College of Comedy With Alan King (1997)
More of the Best of the Hollywood Palace (1993)
Wolf Trap Salutes Victor Borge: An 80th Birthday Celebration (1990)
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (1989)
Buddy Hackett II -- On Stage at Caesar's Atlantic City (1986)
Comic Relief (1986)
George Burns Celebrates 80 Years in Show Business (1983)
There Goes the Neighborhood (1983)
Buddy Hackett -- Live and Uncensored (1983)
Host
Circus of the Stars (1979)
Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes (1979)
The Scoey Mitchlll Show (1972)
Plimpton! Did You Hear the One About...? (1971)
Disney World: A Gala Opening (1971)
The All-Star Comedy Show (1962)
Guest
Entertainment 1955 (1955)
Guest

Writer (Special)

Buddy Hackett -- Live and Uncensored (1983)
Writer

Producer (Special)

Buddy Hackett II -- On Stage at Caesar's Atlantic City (1986)
Executive Producer
Buddy Hackett -- Live and Uncensored (1983)
Executive Producer

Special Thanks (Special)

Buddy Hackett -- Live and Uncensored (1983)
Writer

Life Events

1939

Made professional debut at the age of 15 at a small hotel in the Catskills (date approximate)

1948

Appeared as part of the constantly changing cast of the DuMont network's comedy-variety issue "School House", based on Gus Edwards' old "School Days" vaudeville routine which had featured such stars-to-be as Georgie Jessel, Groucho Marx and Ray Bolger, among others

1953

Feature film debut, "Walking My Baby Back Home"

1958

Appeared in the film "God's Little Acre"

1962

Co-starred in the screen version of the hit Broadway musical "The Music Man"

1963

Had featured role in the big screen comedy "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World"

1964

Returned to Broadway in "I Had a Ball"

1969

Co-starred in the Disney comedy "The Love Bug"

1978

Portrayed comedian Lou Costello in the NBC TV biography "Bud and Lou", opposite Harvey Korman

1980

Hosted the syndicated version of "You Bet Your Life"

1983

Headlined own HBO special "Buddy Hackett--Live and Uncensored"; also executive produced

1986

Starred in second HBO comedy special "Buddy Hackett II--On Stage at Caesar's Atlantic City", again executive producing

1988

Played Scrooge in the Bill Murray vehicle "Scrooged", a contemporary spin on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"

1989

Provided voice of Scuttle, the silly seagull, in the Disney animated feature "The Little Mermaid"

1992

Voiced Crabby on the short-lived animated TV series "Fish Police" (CBS)

1996

Stepped back from live shows when for the first time in his life he experienced stage fright in the form of a sudden dizziness and sense he could not breathe; condition immediately followed gum surgery, which the entertainer believes had something to do with the situation

1998

Honored with the 2,106th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

1998

Lost out to Jay Mohr in competition to voice "Paulie", the talking parrot; ended up playing smaller role of Artie the pawnbroker

1999

Co-starred as Mohr's uncle and chaffeur on the Fox series "Action"

Photo Collections

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm - Color Publicity Stills
Here are a few color publicity stills from MGM's The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), starring Buddy Hackett and produced by George Pal. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
The Love Bug - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Disney's The Love Bug (1969). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Music Man, The (1962) - Trouble Robert Preston as fake Professor Harold Hill, introducing himself to River City, Iowa, with Meredith Willson's famous tune "with a capital T," his first big number in Warner Bros' The Music Man, 1962.
Music Man, The (1962) - Iowa Stubborn Just arrived on the train from Illinois, after an opening number confirming the disdain of other traveling salesmen for his scorched-earth methods, un-credentialed music professor Henry Hill (Robert Preston) hears from the folk of River City, Io-way about their own predisposition, in the hit Warner Bros. adaptation of the Meredith Willson musical, with Timmy Everett, and Paul Ford as the Mayor, in The Music Man, 1962.
Music Man, The (1962) - Shipoopi Buddy Hackett never played the part on Broadway, and was a regular on NBC’s Tonight Show at the time, but his one number as Marcellus, friend of the title character, is one of the more remembered and parodied from the landmark Meredith Willson musical, The Music Man, 1962, starring Robert Preston.
Muscle Beach Party (1963) - I Would Keep That Quiet Italian zillionaire-ess Julie (Luciana Paluzzi) choppers in from her yacht, Buddy Hackett her assistant, hunting the hunkiest body builder (Peter Lupus, here billed as Rock Stevens) at Don Rickles’ gym, Frankie (Avalon) and Dee Dee (Annette Funicello) observing, in the second “Beach Party” feature, Muscle Beach Party, 1963.
It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) - Every Man For Himself! The second scene of motorist-witnesses Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, and Buddy Hackett (Edie Adams and Dorothy Provine not talking) finally not agreeing on how to split the loot from the dead gangster’s stash, in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 1963.
It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) - Natural Born Flyer Desperate to find the dead gangster’s loot, Ding and Benjy (Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett) have enlisted boozy pilot Fitzgerald (Jim Backus), and would-be seaweed tycoon Finch (Milton Berle) loses it with Hawthorne (Terry-Thomas), whom he’s promised a share, in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 1963.
God's Little Acre - Faces Like Flowers! Darlin' Jill (Fay Spain) and Pluto (Buddy Hackett) have come to visit her sister Rosamund (Helen Westcott) and husband Will (Aldo Ray), who's still stuck on the third sister, in God's Little Acre, 1958.
God's Little Acre - Darn My Socks! Darlin' Jill (Fay Spain) plays games with bumbling Pluto (Buddy Hackett) during her outdoor bath, in Anthony Mann's film from the popular Erskine Caldwell novel, God's Little Acre, 1958.
God's Little Acre - Compelled By My Conscience Pluto (Buddy Hackett) has just persuaded Ty-Ty (Robert Ryan) he needs an albino to help him find buried gold, leading to urgent action, in God's Little Acre, 1958, from the Erskine Caldwell novel.
Love Bug, The - I'm Your Friend Mechanic Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett) holds forth as driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) fiddles with "Herbie" in Disney's The Love Bug, 1969.
Love Bug, The - Jackrabbit Springs Thorndyke (David Tomlinson) and Carole (Michele Lee) spectate as Jim (Dean Jones) races "Herbie" with an assist from Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett) in The Love Bug, 1969.

Trailer

Promo

Family

Philip Hacker
Father
Upholsterer.
Anna Hacker
Mother
Sandy Zade Hackett
Daughter
Ivy Julie Hackett
Daughter
Lisa Jean Hackett
Daughter

Companions

Sherry Cohen
Wife
Married on June 12, 1955.

Bibliography

"The Naked Mind of Buddy Hackett
Buddy Hackett, Nash Publishing (1974)
"The Truth about Golf, and Other Lies"
Buddy Hackett, Doubleday (1968)

Notes

Hackett serves as one of the Proctors (along with Billy Crystal) of the Friars Club

"He's a legend. Where other guys were just buying jokes, he was telling stories about things that really happened to him. He was off-color [in the early '60s] when people weren't really doing that. He wasn't up there saying, 'Take my wife, please'; he just went up there and told the truth. He was a torchbearer." --Jay Mohr on co-star Hackett, quoted in TV GUIDE, October 23, 1999

On his working in the series "Action": "I'm not here for the money. I'm here because I need to have somewhere to go." --Hackett quoted in TV GUIDE, October 23, 1999