Buddy Hackett, Comic and Actor, Dead at 78

Obituaries   Buddy Hackett, Comic and Actor, Dead at 78 Buddy Hackett, the doughy-faced comedian and character actor who had a handful of Broadway credits, including the musical, I Had a Ball, was found dead in his Malibu home June 30, according to Variety.
Buddy Hackett
Buddy Hackett

The actor was 78 and is remembered for his raunchy nightclub routines, charity work and his character turns in the films, "The Music Man" (singing "Shipoopi") and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." In 1964's I Had a Ball, he played Garside the Great in the Coney Island-set show about Runyonesque characters and a crystal ball that tells the future. Karen Morrow, Rosetta LeNoire and Richard Kiley were his co-stars in the show that ran six months and spawned a cast album (as many short-lived B-grade shows did in those days). Lloyd Richards directed.

The Brooklyn-born, baby-voiced Mr. Hackett appeared in nightclubs, TV and film over the years. A new generation of audiences would come to know his improv-fueled standup work with HBO specials.

His Broadway debut was a 1954 farce called Lunatics and Lovers, for which he received a Donaldson Award. He produced an evening called Eddie Fisher and Buddy Hackett at the Palace in 1967. He also appeared in a 1960 Broadway comedy, Viva Madison Avenue!

Mr. Hackett, born Leonard Hacker to a father who was a furniture designer and a mother who designed neckties, made his professional stage debut in a tour of Call Me Mister in 1948.

He was the star of a TV series, "Stanley," in 1956, and had a late-career TV role in the Fox series, "Action." Among his films were "Walking My Baby Back Home," "Muscle Beach Party," "Everything's Ducky," "All Hands on Deck" and "The Shoes."