Known for his sharp-tongued humor and goofy looks, comic Buddy Hackett (1924-2003) was born Leonard Hacker on this day in Brooklyn, New York, the son of an upholsterer.
"My mother's menu consisted of two choices: Take it or leave it," he once joked.
After Army duty in World War II, Hackett became a standup comedian at the New York Catskill resort clubs. His rapport with audiences laid the foundation for his overwhelming popularity as a Las Vegas nightclub performer.
A talented star of Broadway and television, Hackett made his film debut in Walking My Baby Back Home (1953), but is best remembered for his roles in The Music Man (1962), The Love Bug (1968), and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). He also captured the voice of Scuttle in The Little Mermaid (1989).
"I am devoted to doing my job right, whether I'm on stage, or as a father. When I took up the game of golf, I worked very hard at it," said Hackett. He kept audiences roaring with laughter with his rubbery face and self-deprecating jokes about being short, round, and Jewish.
In a 2001 interview with Pet Press, he explained that most of his comedy routines were spontaneous. "I let it roll when I'm out there. I'm kind of interested myself in what I'm gonna say."
CNN interviewer Larry King called Hackett "one of the funniest human beings on the planet... All he did was make you laugh."
Dance ill feelings away.