Comedian Buddy Hackett has died at his home in California at the age of 79. The stand-up comic and Hollywood star said he was "born to be funny."

He was seen in some of Hollywood's top musicals and comedies of the 1950s and '60s, from the popular ensemble film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World to The Music Man.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Buddy Hackett discovered his comic talents while serving in the army, when he created routines that he honed in the supper clubs of New York's Catskill Mountains.

In 1953, the rubber-faced comic signed a contract with Universal and soon became a fixture on television shows hosted by Jack Paar, Arthur Godfrey and Jackie Gleason.

He was the voice of a character in The Little Mermaid, the 1989 animated Disney film and its later sequel and was popular in Las Vegas, where he developed a nightclub act aimed at an adult audience.

Short, squat and baby-faced, Buddy Hackett on occasion could deliver a straight performance, as he did convincingly in the Hollywood drama God's Little Acre in 1958.