When Sandy Hackett was a second grader, be knew he was part of an unusual family.
"I went to this movie called The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm," says Sandy. "There on the screen in front of me, Terry Thomas killed my father (Buddy Hackett). That was confusing since my father drove me to the movie.
By the time Sandy reached the fourth grade, he knew his father was an actor. When he first saw him perform at the Diplomat Hotel in Florida, he realized he was also a comedian.
"Of course, I didnt know what being a comedian meant," recalls Sandy, "but I knew I liked it."
For Sandy, recognition began at age 12 when he accompanied his father to the set of the old Laugh In show. Munching contentedly on an apple, he watched directors debate the humor of the scene. "Im just a kid, but I thought that was funny," said Sandy to no one in particular.
"Thats a great line"! shouted the directors who promptly signed Sandy for the show. He did 20 cameo spots over a two-year period during 1970 and 1971.
Although he had already appeared before millions of television viewers, Sandy had not decided on a show business career as yet. "I was in seventh grade and I had a crush on a girl. She was trying out for the school play and I immediately knew I needed to be an actor," explains Sandy. The play was Music Man and Sandy was cast in the lead. "Things worked out with the girl"! he says with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
Sandy also entered forensic competition as a high school freshman because of a crush&mdashthis time on the debate coach. "I wandered by an open door of a classroom where my best friend was sitting talking to a gorgeous girl," he confides. "1 walked in, said I was sorry I was late and sat down. The gorgeous girl turned out to be the teacher of the class and I immediately signed up for the class."
Success didnt come easy for Sandy. "She worked me and pushed me and prodded me into forensic competition." He performed his fathers famous "Chinese Waiter" routine and won the California State Championships. At the Westbury Music Fair in New York, Sandy did the Chinese Waiter before 3,500 people. His father was so impressed, he made him a present of the routine and has rarely done it since.
After graduation from high school Sandy enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as a hotel major. He garnered experience in the hospitality industry at the Sahara where he worked his way through all facets of the hotel&mdashfront desk, purchasing, food and beverage, advertising and publicity, entertainment and gaming. He received his degree in 1977.
His interest in show business was renewed when he was hired to help organize and develop the Saharas Monday evening "Talent Showcase," which was later known as The Sandy Hackett Talent Showcase. It was a training ground and showplace for professional acts trying to break into Las Vegas clubs. "It ran over 10 years and I was able to present over 10,000 acts to Las Vegas audiences," remarks Sandy.
After a year as emcee of the Showcase, Sandy began to receive offers of his own as a standup comedian at clubs around the country. Bookings included various Playboy Clubs, comedy clubs, cruise ships and showrooms in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
"One night in a club, a girl complimented me on my performance," says Sandy. "I asked her out for the next night, but she said she couldnt go because she had acting class. I asked her which one..." be explains. "Oh, Im starting there tomorrow night... The relationship didnt work out, but the acting did".
Sandy was soon discovered by CBS-TV and was signed to do his first television pilot&mdashHappily Ever After. The pilot didnt sell, but Sandy was booked on acting and he has done about a dozen pilots since.
TV lead to film and a featured role in Hot Dog the Movie and starring roles in Hamburger the Motion Picture and Ex-Cop where Sandy got to make his dramatic acting debut as the villain.
In 1990, Sandy opened his own comedy club in Laughlin, Nev., and the club has been going strong ever since, He appears there regularly when not appearing in film, TV or other club dates. He also hosts his own television show&mdashOff Stage with Sandy Hackett. "I get to play host to performers from my comedy dub and other acts appearing in Laughlin," says Sandy. Until recently, Sandy was also hosting a weekly national comedy/sports radio show that emanated from Las Vegas.
Sandy is not one to sit on his laurels. He thrives on diversification and new challenges. Two of his newest challenges include Sandy Hackett Entertainment, a Las Vegas-based convention service company providing clients with most anything from equipment to performers. He is also partners in Broadcast Productions, a full-service video production company with state-of-the-art equipment, that concentrates efforts on television commercials, TV specials and infomercials.
Most recently, Sandy taped two Evenings at The !mprov and a segment of Comedy on the Road.
As to the future. Sandy says, "I like being busy. I like meeting the challenges and am looking for the television project that will take me to the next level&mdashpuberty," he says with a laugh. "Really, I want to do it all, but being a household name is not a prerequisite. My father always reminds me that when you accept show business as a career, you give up your anonymity and I enjoy being able to go places. Just once, I think my father would like to go to a baseball game and not be recognized, but l cant think of anything Id rather be doing more."