Abbott & Costello

Abbott and Costello were an American comedy team composed of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.  Their performances in burlesque, on the radio and in film and television made them the most popular comedy team of the 1940s and early 1950s. The highest earning movie stars of the 1940’s, their routine "Who's on First?" is one of the best-known comedy routines of all time and set the framework for their special type of comedy. The duo became international icons of comedy, loved and respected across the world.

William Alexander “Bud” Abbott (October 2, 1895 – April 24, 1974) was an American actor, known for his film comedy double act and as straight man of the world-famous comedy team Abbott and Costello.

Early Life: Bud Abbott was born in Asbury Park, New Jersey to a show business family. His parents, Rae Fisher and Harry Abbott, had worked for the Barnum and Bailey Circus. His father was a longtime advance man for the Columbia Burlesque Wheel, and he installed Bud in the box office of the Casino Theater in Brooklyn.
In 1918, while working in Washington, D.C., he met and married Jenny Mae Pratt, a burlesque dancer, and comedian who performed as Betty Smith. They remained together until his death 55 years later.

Career: In 1923 Abbott produced a vaudeville tab show called Broadway Flashes. Abbott began performing as a straight man in the show when he could no longer afford to pay one to perform. He continued producing and performing in burlesque shows on the Mutual Burlesque wheel.
Abbott crossed paths with Lou Costello in a burlesque theater in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1930s. At the time, Abbott was producing and performing in Minsky's Burlesque shows and Costello was a rising comic. They formally teamed up in 1936, and went on to perform together in burlesque, vaudeville and stage shows, most notably at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier.
In 1938, they received national exposure as regulars on the Kate Smith Hour radio show, which led to roles in a Broadway musical, The Streets of Paris. In 1940, Universal signed the team for their first film, One Night in the Tropics. Despite having minor roles, Abbott and Costello stole the film with several classic routines, including an abbreviated version of their infamous baseball-themed bit "Who's On First?"
During World War II, Abbott and Costello were among the most popular and highest-paid stars in the world. Between 1940 and 1956 they made 36 films. They had their own radio program (The Abbott and Costello Show) throughout the 1940s, first on NBC from 1942 to 1947, and from 1947 to 1949 on ABC. In the 1950s, they introduced their comedy to live television on The Colgate Comedy Hour, and launched their own half-hour series, The Abbott and Costello Show.  Abbott and Costello split in 1957 and partner Lou Costello passed away on March 3, 1959.

In 1960, Bud Abbott began performing with a new partner, Candy Candido, to good reviews. Abbott soon quit, however, remarking that "No one could ever live up to Lou." The following year, Abbott performed in a dramatic television episode of General Electric Theater titled "The Joke's on Me".
Abbott also provided his own voice for the Hanna-Barbera animated series The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show, with Stan Irwin providing the voice of Lou Costello.

Personal Life: Bud and Betty Abbott were married for 55 years. The couple adopted two children: Bud Jr. in 1942 and Vickie in 1949. Bud Jr. died on January 19, 1997, at age 57. Abbott died of cancer at age 76 on April 24, 1974, at his home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles. He was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. His widow, Betty, died on September 12, 1981. When Groucho Marx was asked about Abbott shortly after his death, his response was that Abbott was "the greatest straight man ever."
Honors and Awards: Abbott and Costello are among the few non-baseball personnel to be memorialized in the Baseball Hall of Fame, although they are not inductees of the Hall itself. A plaque and a gold record of the "Who's On First?" sketch have been on permanent display there since 1956 and the routine runs on an endless video loop in the exhibit area. Abbott and Costello each have three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their work in radio, television and motion pictures. Abbott’s radio star is located at 6333 Hollywood Boulevard, his motion pictures star is located at 1611 Vine Street, and his television star is located at 6740 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1942, they were voted the country's No. 1 Box Office Stars by exhibitors. Abbott received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Acting (posthumously) from the Garden State Film Festival in 2006. Abbott is a 2009 inductee of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

Louis Francis Costello (March 6, 1906 – March 3, 1959) was an American actor known for both his film comedy double act with straight man Bud Abbott and as part of the world-famous comedy team of Abbott and Costello.

Early Life: Louis Francis Cristillo was born on March 6, 1906, in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of the former Helen Rege and Sebastiano Cristillo. Lou’s father was from Caserta, Italy and his mother was an American of French, Irish, and Italian ancestry. He attended school in Paterson and was considered a gifted athlete. Cristillo excelled in basketball and was once the New Jersey state free throw champion. He also fought as a boxer under the name "Lou King". It is said that Cristillo took his professional name from either actress Delores or Helene Costello.

Career: In 1927, Costello hitchhiked to Hollywood to become an actor, but could only find work as a laborer or extra at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. His athletic skill brought him occasional work as a stunt man, notably in The Trail of '98 (1928). He can also be spotted sitting ringside in the Laurel and Hardy film The Battle of the Century (1927). Costello wasn’t “making it” in Hollywood so he headed back east intending to get the requisite stage experience he’d need to succeed. He stopped in St. Joseph, Missouri and convinced a local burlesque producer to hire him as a Dutch It was there he met straight men Bud Abbott. They formally teamed up in 1936, and went on to perform together in burlesque, vaudeville and stage shows, most notably at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier. In 1938, they received national exposure as regulars on the Kate Smith Hour radio show, which led to roles in a Broadway musical, The Streets of Paris. In 1940, Universal signed the team for their first film, One Night in the Tropics. Despite having minor roles, Abbott and Costello stole the film with several classic routines, including an abbreviated version of their infamous baseball classic "Who's On First?" They only had supporting roles in their first picture, One Night in the Tropics (1940), but stole the film with their classic routines, including a much-shortened version of "Who's On First?" (a more complete version was performed in The Naughty Nineties, released in 1945). The team's breakthrough picture, however, was Buck Privates, released early in 1941. They immediately became the No. 3 Box Office Stars of 1941. During World War II, Abbott and Costello were among the most popular and highest-paid stars in the world. Between 1940 and 1956 they made 36 films. They had their own radio program (The Abbott and Costello Show) throughout the 1940s, first on NBC from 1942 to 1947, and from 1947 to 1949 on ABC. In the 1950s, they introduced their comedy to live television on The Colgate Comedy Hour, and launched their own half-hour series, The Abbott and Costello Show. Abbott and Costello split in 1957.

Personal Life: On January 30, 1934, Costello married Anne Battler, a burlesque dancer. Their first child, Patricia "Paddy" Costello, was born in 1936, followed by Carole on December 23, 1938, and Lou Jr. (nicknamed "Butch") on November 6, 1942. On August 15, 1947, their last child, Christine, was born. In March 1943, Costello had an attack of rheumatic fever and was unable to work for six months. On November 4 of that year, he returned to the team's popular radio show, but upon arriving at the NBC studio, Costello received word that his infant son, Lou Jr., had accidentally drowned in the family pool. The baby ('Little Butch') was just two days short of his first birthday. Rather than cancel the broadcast, Lou said, "Wherever he is tonight, I want him to hear me", and went on with the show. No one in the audience knew of the death until after the show when Bud Abbott explained the events of the day, and how the phrase "The show must go on" had been epitomized by Lou that night. The rheumatic fever, which Costello contracted during a grueling 1942 war bond tour, continued to tax his health throughout his remaining years. Shortly after completion of The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, in 1959 (his only starring film appearance without Abbott), Costello suffered a heart attack. He died at Doctors Hospital in Beverly Hills on March 3, 1959, three days before his 53rd birthday. After a funeral Mass at his parish, St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Sherman Oaks,[29] Costello was interred at the Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, on March 8.[30] His wife Anne died from an apparent heart attack nine months later on December 5, 1959, at age 47. Honors and Awards: Abbott and Costello are among the few non-baseball personnel to be memorialized in the Baseball Hall of Fame, although they are not inductees of the Hall itself. A plaque and a gold record of the "Who's On First?" sketch have been on permanent display there since 1956 and the routine runs on an endless video loop in the exhibit area. Abbott and Costello each have three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their work in radio, television and motion pictures. Costello’s radio star is located at 6780 Hollywood Boulevard, his motion pictures star is located at 6438 Hollywood Boulevard, and his television star is located at 6276 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1942, they were voted the country's No. 1 Box Office Stars by exhibitors. On June 26, 1992, the city of Paterson, New Jersey, in conjunction with the Lou Costello Memorial Association, erected a statue of Costello in the newly named Lou Costello Memorial. It shows Costello holding a baseball bat, a reference to the team's most famous routine, "Who's on First?" In 2005, Madison Street, in the Sandy Hill section of Paterson, where Costello was born, was renamed Lou Costello Place. The centennial of Costello's birth was celebrated in Paterson in March 2006. From June 24 to 26, 2006, the Fort Lee Film Commission held a centennial film retrospective at the Fine Arts Theatre in Hollywood. In 2009, Costello was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.


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