1924 - 2003
He could hit you hard in the funny bone. He could shock you with a blue joke. But there was one thing comedian Buddy Hackett could never do: He could never bore you.
The 78-year-old Hackett, who died in May 2003 at his Southern California home, was a product of the so-called "Borscht Circuit"-a comic who performed in the Catskill Mountains for New York visitors. By the 1950's, Hackett appeared on many a stage and various television variety shows of the day. But Hackett had only a handful of regular roles on TV. He was the star of his own situation comedy, "Stanley". It aired live on NBC from 1956 until 1957. Hackett played the title role, the owner of a newspaper stand in an upscale New York City hotel.
Also heard but not seen on the series was a younger Paul Lynde, who barked orders to the staff as the hotel's owner. Stanley's love interest was Celia, played by a relative newcomer who would soon make her own mark in show business-Carol Burnett.
Hackett's last regular role on TV was on the critically acclaimed but low-rated comedy about the Hollywood show business world, "Action". (He played a limo driver on the 1999 Fox series.) But if I had a favorite Buddy Hackett role, it would be his portrayal of comic Lou Costello in the 1978 TV movie "Bud and Lou", which co-starred Harvey Korman as partner Bud Abbott. Hackett not only caught the essence of Costello's comedy; he also captured the despair of the comedian's personal life, bringing a necessary dark element to the film. The best comics have always gone a step beyond the chuckles.
You can place Buddy Hackett in that pantheon of comic greats.
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