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Farewell to Marcellus Washburn

Buddy Hackett was discovered dead yesterday in his southern California beach home: the comic actor and stand-up was in his late seventies (accounts vary as to his exact age). He was a fixture at Vegas, particularly during its glory show biz years, and an instantly identifiable face in guest appearances on television, but for me his greatest role is as Professor Harold Hill’s sidekick Marcellus in the 1962 movie version of The Music Man. Though he could barely sing, he still was given one of the movie’s big show-stoppers, “Shipoopie,” and managed to make it totally his.
According to the AP story reporting on his death, Hackett once turned down a place in the Three Stooges after Curly suffered his debilitating stroke (brother Shemp ultimately took the spot instead). Probably a wise decision, though roles alongside Mickey Rooney in Everything’s Ducky or It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World could be just as strenuously slapsticky. Still, to my mind, his funniest role remains that fat Brooklynite in a stable in River City, Ioway. . .

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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