Buddy Hackett (born Leonard Hacker; August 31, 1924 – June 30, 2003) was an American actor and comedian.
Hackett grew up in Brooklyn, living next door to future Dodgers pitcher and Baseball Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II as part of an anti-aircraft battery.
His career as a comedian began after the war, when he performed at a nightclub in Brooklyn and on the Catskills Borscht Belt circuit. 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. His son, Sandy Hackett, has been starring in film and television after his father's death.
His roles in film and TV include:
- The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm: as Hans
- The Music Man: as Marcellus Washburn
- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: as Benjy Benjamin
- The Love Bug: as Tennessee Steinmetz
- Rankin Bass' Jack Frost: as Pardon-Me Pete, the groundhog
- Bud and Lou (1978 TV movie): as Lou Costello, with Harvey Korman as Bud Abbott
- Scrooged: As Himself as Ebeneezer Scrooge
- The Little Mermaid (1989): as Scuttle
- Paulie: as Artie, the pawnbroker
- Action: as Uncle Lonny
Buddy Hackett is associated with these tropes:
- Borscht Belt:
- Dirty Old Man: He hit his senior years as broadcasting standards grew more lax, and he spent the last couple decades of his life gleefully doing the talk-show circuit with the filthiest material he had.
- Fat Idiot:
- Large Ham: Even in his Tuscan ice cream commercials circa 1980.
- 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.
- He has also gone on record saying he regretted turning down the Herbie sequels.