Buddy Hackett was always an acquired taste because I remember going to see him a long time ago. When he came out he kept me wondering when the comedian was going to come on because I thought he was just the warm up act. He seems like he is an overgrown goofy kid not right in the head which at the time was not yet a key to comedy.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York and his father worked in the upholstery gig. Buddy used to say that he was born to be funny and that was what he had going for him. In his films he was always the comedic relief or the one you had to wonder about. After a while I realized he was really funny and the kind of guy you could watch and laugh without thinking about serious things that make you sad.
His appearance in the classic movie "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" was one of the highlights of a film that is one of my favorites of all time. All the best comedy talents in show business were called together to create a completely wacko movie that people have since tried to duplicate and failed.
According to what I read at the Barnes & Noble website, Buddy Hackett was not a very good performer in high school where he appeared in school pageants and forgot his lines. He also tried playing for the football team but stepped in a water bucket during his first game and everyone laughed at him. I can relate to that.
Buddy joined the Army and met a Chinese waiter from which he took one of his famous early stand up characters. He then began doing regular stand up comedy in New York City supper clubs and in the Catskills (I believe I saw him in to Poconos). His first television appearance was on a show called "Laff Time."
In 1947 he did his first film and was featured as the voice of a talking camel in a movie called "Slave Girl." Then in 1953 he signed a movie contract with Universal Pictures and spent two years on Broadway in a play "Lunatics and Lovers."
Buddy got to be pretty big (and not just in his midsection). He got his own television series in 1956 with "Stanley" which was the show on which Carol Burnett made her first television appearance. Then he got to have a regular comedy role on Jackie Gleason's saturday night variety show.
In the 1960s Buddy Hackett became known for doing quality family movies that were good for children. He was fantastic in "The Love Bug" and "The Music Man." Many years later he would use his voice for the character of Scuttle in the Disney movie "The Little Mermaid."
Buddy Hackett's idol was Lou Costello who was similar in shape and style to Hackett although you could easily argue much funnier. Hackett did a movie where he played Lou Costello in 1978 called "Bud and Lou" about the comedy team of Abbott and Costello.
Editor Note:Buddy Hackett passed on from this world at his home on June 30, 2003.