Abbott and Costello

Lou Costello and Bud Abbott

Slowly I Turned, classic vaudeville skit, also known as Poko Moko and Niagara Falls

Slowly I Turned, a classic vaudeville routine as performed by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.   Also known as “Poko Moko” and “Niagra Falls”

(For more information  about Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, their movies, TV & radio work check out our sister site,  Abbott and Costello – Who’s on First?)

Bud, Lou and derelict in cell:

Derelict: I haven’t always been a derelect … (looks at Lou) … like you.

Lou Costello: Don’t call me those kind of bad names!

Derelict: Would you like to hear my story?

Lou Costello: No

Derelict: Very well, then I’ll tell it to you (more…)

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Lou Costello and Bud Abbott

Who’s on First? script

Who’s on First? Abbott and Costello’s signature routine

(For  more information about Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, their movies, TV & radio work check out our sister site,  Abbott and Costello – Who’s on First?)

The most famous of all of Abbott and Costello’s routines, Who’s on First? had been performed countless times in vaudeville and on radio, as well as a shortened version of it in their first movie, “One Night in the Tropics“, with the longer, definitive version (shown here) filmed in “The Naughty Nineties.” (more…)

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The Feud of Abbott and Costello

(For  more information about Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, their movies, TV & radio work check out our sister site,  Abbott and Costello – Who’€™s on First?)

(originally published in TV Forecast and Guide, March 7, 1953)

One of the worst kept secrets in show business a few years back was the backstage feuding of the top comedy team of Abbott and Costello. It seemed hard to believe that the finely balanced pair could be anything but the best of friends. Yet the evidence was there.

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Lou Costello and Bud Abbott

Introduction to Abbott and Costello

Introduction to Abbott and Costello, one of the greatest comedy teams of all time

(For  more information about Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, their movies, TV & radio work check out our sister site,  Abbott and Costello – Who’€™s on First?)

Abbott and Costello - Who's on first

Abbott and Costello was a legendary comedy team, consisting of Bud Abbott, the tall, thin straight man, and Lou Costello, the short, pudgy comic. They were famous for their rapid-fire verbal exchanges, and Costello’s clownish view of the world. Like Laurel and Hardy, they were a visual contrast – the tall, debonair Bud Abbott, and the short, goofy, unkempt Lou Costello. (more…)

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Lou Costello and Bud Abbott

Bud Abbott: the man everyone forgot!

Bud Abbott: the man everyone forgot
(originally published in Screen Stories, June 1960)Bud Abbott and Lou Costello - Who's on First

(For  more information about Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, their movies, TV & radio work check out our sister site,  Abbott and Costello – Who’s on First?)

Gray-haired Bud Abbott stared bleakly out of his breakfast-room window, at the brown, untended lawn and grounds of his Encino, California home. Although it was past noon, he still wore his bedroom slippers, pajamas and white flannel robe. Why get dressed? He had no place to go, no job to do. (more…)

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My cure for sorrow, by Lou Costello

(For  more information about Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, their movies, TV & radio work check out our sister site,  Abbott and Costello – Who’s on First?)

(originally published in Journal of Living, January 1954)

Lou Costello: My Cure For Sorrow, As told to Vivian Cosby (more…)

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How I fought back – Lou Costello’s account of his recovery from rheumatic fever

(For  more information about Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, their movies, TV & radio work check out our sister site,  Abbott and Costello – Who’s on First?)

(originally published in Motion Picture Hollywood Magazine, January , 1944)

Lou Costello, Hollywood’s best-loved comedian, tells how he fought his way back to health through prayer and undying faith. (more…)

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Lou Costello and Bud Abbott

Lou Costello biography

Lou Costello (March 6, 1906 – March 3, 1959)

One Night in the Tropics, Lou Costello, Bud Abbott, 1940

(For  more information about Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, their movies, TV & radio work check out our sister site,  Abbott and Costello – Who’s on First?)

Lou Costello, the man who would ask the eternal question, Who’s on First?, was born as Louis Francis Cristillo on March 6, 1906.  He grew up in his hometown of  Patterson, New Jersey, which he mentioned in virtually every movie and television episode that he appeared in. After high school, he had been bitten by the entertainer bug, and worked as a carpenter at both MGM and Warner Brothers movie studios in an attempt to break into show business (more…)

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Lou Costello and Bud Abbott

Bud Abbott biography

William Alexander Abbot – aka. Bud Abbott (October 2, 1895 – April 24, 1974)

(For more information about Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, their movies, TV & radio work check out our sister site, Abbott and Costello – Who’s on First?)

Some people are said to have show business in their blood – in  Bud Abbott’s  case, it’s almost literally true.  Abbott’s  mother was a bareback rider for the Ringling Brothers Circus, and his father worked as  advance man for the same circus. Bud Abbot was born and raised in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and was smitten with the performing bug at an early age. He dropped out of school at the age of 14 and  began working in carnivals, and later began  working in theaters across the country, eventually becoming the manager of the Nation Theater in Detroit. While there, Abbott began  performing on stage as straight man  to vaudeville performers, which led to a chance encounter that changed his life.

Bud Abbott, Lou Costello in the 1930sIn 1931, while working at the Brooklyn Theater, he was  asked to fill in for  Lou Costello’s straight man, who had taken ill. The new act of Abbott and Costello was created that night, and throughout the 1930’s  the men worked together in burlesque shows, minstrel shows, vaudeville and movie houses, honing their timing and perfecting their skills. In 1938 they received national exposure for the first time, appearing on the  Kate Smith Hour radio show, which led to their being signed by Universal Pictures the next year. In 1940 Bud Abbott and Lou Costello filmed their  first motion picture, “One Night in the Tropics.” Originally, they had small roles in the film, but as they were filming their roles were enlarged time and again, as the film crew kept breaking up in laughter during the filming of Abbott and Costello’s scenes. In this movie, they introduced several of their signature routines, including an abbreviated version of “Who’s on First?” and “A Dollar a Day” (where Abbott has hired Costello for the sum of $1.00 per day for the last year, and now that it’s time to pay up, finds exception after excuse to pay him less and less, ending with $1.00 for the entire year – classic, and truly funny). The next year, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello starred in  â€œBuck Privates,” which became a major hit, grossing over $10,000,000.00 — bear in mind, at this time a movie ticket cost $0.25. Financially, “Buck Privates” did better than “Citizen Kane.” Swiftly following that same year came “In the Navy,” “Keep ‘Em Flying” and “Hold That Ghost.” All of these were large successes, and  propelled Bud Abbott to stardom, with all of the financial rewards that included.

Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, 1948

In that same year of 1941 Bud and Lou began their  weekly radio show, “The Abbott and Costello Show” on the ABC radio network, which ran until 1946. In 1942, their radio and film career continued, releasing the movies “Who Done It?,” “Pardon My Sarong,” “Rio Rita” and “Ride ‘em Cowboy” — all of which were box office hits. The next year, in addition to filming “It Ain’t Hay,” Bud Abbott and Lou Costello used their immense popularity to  raise money for the war effort. They began a cross-country tour, at their own expense, to raise funds on behalf of the War Bond Drive. They were honored on the steps of New York’s City Hall by Mayor Furiello LaGuardia for raising a record-breaking 89 million dollars in just three days, and continued raising money throughout the year. After completing filming on “Hit The Ice,” they continued fund raising – with disastrous health results for  Lou. He contracted Rheumatic fever, resulting in heart damage that led years later to his death. It also prevented him from working for over a year. During that year,  Bud Abbott refused to appear with a different comedian due to his loyalty to his partner, but continued to host their weekly radio show.

One Night in the Tropics, Lou Costello, Bud Abbott, 1940

In 1944, Bud Abbott was having contract renegotiation difficulties with Universal Pictures. As a result, during the filming of “In Society,”Bud and Lou refused to do re-shoots  and every day, at exactly 4:00 p.m., whether they were in the middle of a scene or in the middle of a line, would immediately cease working and go home. Interestingly enough, this led to the practice of shooting a scene from multiple angles with multiple cameras, which has since become common practice. Eventually,  new contracts were signed, and Bud and Lou went on to make “Lost in a Harem“, and in 1945 “Abbott and Costello in Hollywood,” “Here Come the Co-Eds” and “The Naughty Nineties” (containing the definitive version of their famous “Who’s on First?” routine) I

n 1946,  Bud Abbott and Lou Costello moved their weekly radio show, “The Abbott and Costello Show” to the NBC network, where it remained through 1949, but other than that the show remained unchanged. In that same year, they produced two of their most outstanding films, “Little Giant” and “The Time of their Lives.” Both deviated from their standard formula, with the comedy no longer being driven by the rapid-fire verbal jousting between Abbott and Costello, instead being more character-based comedies – although fine films, they did poorly at the box office. In 1947, Bud Abbott returned to his “standard” movie formula, with “Buck Privates Come Home” (a sequel to their first blockbuster hit, “Buck Privates“) and “The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap“. The next year continued in the same way with “The Noose Hangs High” and “Mexican Hayride” – until their final movie of 1948, which changed the direction of Bud’s career – “Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein” — a large financial hit, and leading to a bevy of movies following the same formula – “Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff  (1949),” “Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man  (1951),” “Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd  (1952),” “Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1953),” “Abbott  and Costello Meet the Keystone Cops  (1955),” “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy  (1955)”.  The Abbott and Costello Show, Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, 1952-53In addition to the “Abbott and Costello Meet …” formula, Bud Abbott continued making other films with his partner, including “Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion(1950),” “Comin’ Round the Mountain(1951),” “Lost in Alaska (1952),” “Abbott and Costello Go to Mars  (1953),” “Jack And The Beanstalk  (1952),” and “Dance with Me Henry  (1956).” Although still popular, Bud’s movie career seemed to be winding down.

However,  television greeted Bud with open arms with “The Abbott and Costello Show  (1952-1954),”  reusing many of the most popular movie routines on their weekly TV series – thankfully, the entire series now available on DVD.  Abbott & Costello - who's on first?In 1956, one year before the release of their last film together, Bud and Lou were brought together on  The Steve Allen Show  before a live nationwide viewing audience. The emotion was further heightened when  Steve Allen announced the induction of Abbott and Costello and their Gold Record of “Who’s On First” into the World-famous, Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Abbott and Costello are the first (and only, to date) non-baseball playing celebrities ever to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Over these same years, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s off-screen relationship had became more and more strained. Their  partnership nearly dissolved before  in the late 1940′s and early 1950′s — a  rift that was healed by Bud Abbott’s suggestion  for a name for the organization that the two had been building for underpriviliged children in Los Angeles – the “Lou Costello, Jr., Youth Foundation, for underprivileged children.” Lou was truly touched by Bud’s willingness to honor Lou’s dead son, but the underlying tensions remained, and led to an eventual dissolving of their partnership in 1957. Their partnership had been strained for many reasons — Lou’s increasing attempts at control, the stress of Bud trying to hide his lifelong epilepsy, and Bud’s increasing drinking (partly due to an attempt to control his epilepsy through alcohol) — but this  time the break was permanent. In that same year, both Bud and Lou became officially bankrupt, after tax issues with the IRS. Not long afterwards, Bud’s longtime partner, Lou Costello, died in 1959 from heart failure, brought on by the heart damage caused by the Rheumatic fever he had contracted years before.  Bud tried to restart his career with a new partner, Candy Candido, but he wasn’t successful. His final television appearances included a performance in a dramatic episode of General Electric Theater in 1961 and later provided his own voice for the  animated cartoon series Abbott and Costello  in 1966.  Bud Abbott eventually died of cancer, after suffering from two strokes, on April 24, 1974.  Bud Abbott has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: the radio star is located on 6333 Hollywood Blvd., motion pictures star is located on 1611 Vine St., and the TV star is located on 6740 Hollywood Blvd.

Originally published at  Clown-Ministry.com
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