Buddy Hackett was an American comedian and actor. In his later life, he and his wife set up the Singita Animal Sanctuary in the San Fernando Valley, California.
Hackett was born Leonard Hacker in Brooklyn, New York, New York, the son of a Jewish upholsterer. He grew up on 54th and 14th Ave in Borough Park, Brooklyn, across from Public School 103. He graduated from New Utrecht High School in 1942. While still a student, he began performing in nightclubs in the Catskills Borscht Belt resorts. He appeared first at the Golden Hotel in Hurleyville, New York, and he claimed did not get one single laugh.
Hackett enlisted in the United States Army during World War II and served in an anti-aircraft battery.
Hackett's first job after the war was at the Pink Elephant, a Brooklyn club. It was here that he changed his name from Leonard Hacker to Buddy Hackett. He made appearances in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and continued to perform in the Catskills. He acted on Broadway, in Lunatics and Lovers, where Max Liebman saw him and put him in two television specials. A television series, Stanley, was developed for him and produced by Liebman, which helped start co-star Carol Burnett's career. In the late 1940s, Jules White, a friend of Hackett's, asked him if he would like to replace Curly Howard in The Three Stooges, after Curly suffered a stroke, but he turned down the role, according to Hackett, as stated in the The Love Bug Audio Commentary.