Buddy Hackett may be best known to today’s generation as the voice of Scuttle, the marble-mouthed seagull in Disney’s classic, “The Little Mermaid.” Still others are familiar with the lovable pumpkin-headed goofball for his live action screen work in such family friendly movies as “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Music Man,” and the original “Herbie the Love Bug,” but his legendary Las Vegas performance contract in 1963 certainly was not G-rated.
Hackett was born in Brooklyn, and started his comedy career while still in high school. The chubby faced funnyman cut his teeth in the Borscht Belt resorts in the Catskills in upstate New York until he was noticed by both Hollywood and Las Vegas.
To the baby boomers who grew up on the Rat Pack, Buddy Hackett was known as an adult-only entertainer, for his use of “blue material” during his Vegas performances. While Hackett’s act might come off as mild compared to the language and themes used by today’s comedians, his rumored arrangement for the year of 1963 is about as graphic as it gets.
It has been reported in print and told for years by those “in-the-know,” that on top of being paid handsomely for doing his humorous shtick, Hackett’s arrangement with the casino contained a number of “perks” that would be considered anything but family friendly.
The supposed contract has been documented in at least one book, and at one time purportedly hung at the Tropicana’s, “Casino Legends Hall of Fame.” The alleged document supposedly states that Hackett would be, “provided oral gratification both before and after ‘the show’ by a showgirl of his choice.”
Forgive me if you now can not shake the image of a fat, sweaty, post-gig Buddy Hackett, polyester trousers pulled low around his ankles, gargling down whiskey sours, while some unfortunate burlesque dancer/mother of two, kneels before the bloated, bug-eyed comic, inadvertently tickling his nose with her feathery headdress until he violently erupts in a state of short-lived ecstasy, and collapses on the filthy dressing room couch behind him. (Editor’s note, I am just assuming the couch was filthy. It just makes for a more compelling visual. )
Ahhhh! There’s no business like show business.