LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Buddy Hackett, the squat, round, rubbery-faced funnyman who appeared for more than 50 years as a top act in nightclubs, Broadway shows, on television and in such movies as "The Music Man," "The Love Bug" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," has died, his son confirmed Monday night. He was 79.
Hackett died at his Southern California beach house either late Sunday or early Monday, Sandy Hackett told The Associated Press Monday night. His body was found Monday.
"He was one of the greatest ever. He was a terrific father. He was my best friend. He prepared me very well for this day, but no matter how much you prepare it still hurts," Sandy Hackett said as he arrived at his mother's house in Los Angeles.
The younger Hackett, who is also a comedian, said he had driven to Los Angeles from his Las Vegas home as soon as he got word of his father's death.
Hackett was invited to join the Three Stooges when "Curly" Howard, the bald-headed member of the comedy team, suffered a stroke in 1946. But Hackett declined, believing he could develop his own comedy style. Playing for small money on the Borscht Circuit for New York City vacationers in the Catskill Mountains, he learned to get laughs with his complaints about being short, fat and Jewish.
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