Birthday: August 31, 1924
Died At Age: 78
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Leonard Hacker
Born in: Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Famous as: Comedian
Height: 5'6" (168 cm), 5'6" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Sherry Cohen (m. 1955 – his death. 2003)
father: Philip Hacker
mother: Anna Geller
children: Ivy Julie Hackett, Lisa Jean Hackett, Sandy Hackett
Died on: June 30, 2003
place of death: Malibu, California
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: New Utrecht High School
Who was Buddy Hackett?
Buddy Hackett was an American actor and comedian remembered for his roles in the films ‘The Music Man’, ‘It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’, ‘The Love Bug’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’. He was also known as a nightclub comedian, mainly in Las Vegas, where he had his first performance and wound up being one of the prime headliners in the city's history. He had a reputation of being a brilliant ad-libber and a comedian who knew how far to take a joke before it lost its meaning, a quality not every comedian possessed at that time. Born to an upholsterer and part-time inventor, Hackett grew up in Brooklyn and went to New Utrecht High School. He served in the United States Army for three years before starting his career on the stage. As a child, he suffered from Bell's palsy which contributed to his distinctive slurred speech. The legendary comedian married Sherry Cohen, with whom he established the Singita Animal Sanctuary in San Fernando Valley, California. He was also an avid firearms collector. Hackett died of heart disease in June 2003, at the age of 78.
Childhood & Early Life
Buddy Hackett was born on August 31, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York, USA, to Anna and Philip Hacker. He studied at New Utrecht High School and graduated from there in 1942.
He suffered from Bell's palsy during his childhood which eventually led to his slurred speech.
While in school, he started performing in nightclubs. He joined the US military during the World War II and served there for three years.
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Following his military service, Buddy Hackett performed at a Brooklyn club named the Pink Elephant. He then went on to perfrom in various nightclubs across Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
He eventually landed roles on Broadway. His film career began in the year 1950 with a role in the short film ‘King of the Pins’. Three years later, he starred in the musical ‘Walking My Baby Back Home’.
Hackett acted as a replacement for actor Lou Costello in the feature-length comedy flick ‘Fireman, Save My Child’ when the latter couldn’t perform some scenes due to illness.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Hackett earned further popularity when he made frequent guest appearances in a variety of shows hosted by Arthur Godfrey and Jack Paar. He also appeared in Johnny Carson’s versions of ‘The Tonight Show,’ the game show ‘Treasure Hunt,’ and ‘The Perry Como Show.’
From 1957 to 1958, he featured on the ‘Patrice Munsel Show’ alongside his roommate Lenny Bruce. In the late 1960s, the artiste made several appearances in the game show ‘Hollywood Squares’.
After performing in ‘I Had a Ball’ on Broadway, he collaborated with Mickey Rooney for ‘Everything's Ducky’ in which the two played navy men who smuggle a talking duck aboard. Hackett then starred opposite Robert Preston in the screen adaptation of ‘The Music Man’.
He was cast as Benjy Benjamin in the 1963 movie ‘It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’, an epic comedy about the madcap pursuit of $350,000 in stolen cash by a diverse group of strangers.
He rose to fame among the young audience when he played an adorable hippie auto mechanic in Disney's ‘The Love Bug.’ The film was released in 1969. It follows the adventures of Herbie, his driver, Jim Douglas, and the latter’s love interest, Carole Bennett.
In 1978, the comedian cum actor surprised many with his spectacular performance as Lou Costello in the TV movie ‘Bud and Lou’. The following year, he lent his voice to the character of "Pardon Me Pete" in the Christmas special Jack Frost.
He starred in the film ‘Hey Babe!’ in 1980. The film tells the story of an orphan who desires to attend a school for the performing arts so as to fulfil her dream of becoming a star.
In April 1998, Hackett featured in an episode of ‘LateLine’. In his final years, he had a recurring spot on CBS’ ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn’ where he shared stories of his career as well as delivered some of his comedic routines.
In 1999, he appeared in the TV series ‘Action’ as a chauffeur and security guard named Lonnie Dragon.
In 1956 and 1957, Buddy Hackett featured as the title character in ‘Stanley,’ a situation comedy which ran on NBC for 19 weeks. The show revolved around the adventures of an operator (played by Hackett) of a newsstand in New York City hotel.
Family & Personal Life
On June 12, 1955, Buddy Hackett married Sherry Cohen. The couple had a son, Sandy, who followed in his father’s footsteps and entered the comedy world. Besides him, they had two daughters: Lisa Jean Hackett and Ivy Julie Hackett.
In the early 1990s, the actor was diagnosed with serious heart disease. However, he declined to undergo bypass surgery. He eventually breathed his last on June 30, 2003, at his house in Malibu, California. He was 78 at that time.