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 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 Costelloâs 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. In fact, when they were hired by Universal Studios, the studio was thinking of them as a more up-to-date version of Laurel and Hardy.
Abbott and Costello initially teamed up in 1931 when Bud Abbott was working at a Brooklyn theater, and Lou Costello asked him to fill in for his actâs straight man, who had taken ill. Throughout the 1930âs Abbott and Costello built and polished their act in vaudeville and burlesque theaters, using well-known vaudeville routines.
In 1938, they came to national prominence after performing on the radio show The Kate Smith Hour, which lead to Abbott and Costello signing a movie contract with Universal Studios the next year. In 1940, Abbott and Costello released their first film, One Night in the Tropics, in which they were only supposed to be supporting roles, but they ended up stealing the show, notably with an abridged version of their classic “Who’s on First?” routine. They were quickly propelled to stardom, starring in the movies, their own radio show and television program.
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello swiftly became box office sensations, and one of the most popular comedy teams of all times, creating dozens of movies (as well as radio shows, a ground-breaking television show, and their own comic book series) over the next twenty years.
In 1957, the team separated, due to internal stresses as well as virtual bankruptcy, due to tax issues with the IRS. Lou Costello died the next year, due to a weakened heart after his exposure to Rheumatic Fever during World War II.
In 1994, comedian Jerry Seinfeld hosted the television special, Abbott and Costello meet Jerry Seinfeld which aired on NBC to over 20 million homes.
Filmography of Abbott and Costello
- One Night in the Tropics, 1940
- Buck Privates, 1941
- In The Navy, 1941
- Hold That Ghost, 1941
- Keep ‘Em Flying, 1941
- Ride ‘Em Cowboy, 1942
- Rio Rita, 1942
- Pardon My Sarong, 1942
- Who Done It?, 1942
- It Ain’t Hay, 1943
- Hit The Ice, 1943
- In Society, 1944
- Lost In A Harem, 1944
- Here Come The Co-eds, 1945
- The Naughty Nineties, 1945
- Abbott & Costello In Hollywood, 1945
- Little Giant, 1946
- The Time Of Their Lives, 1946
- Buck Privates Come Home, 1947
- The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap, 1947
- The Noose Hangs High, 1948
- Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, 1948
- Mexican Hayride, 1948
- Abbott and Costello Meet The Killer: Boris Karloff, 1949
- Africa Screams, 1949
- Abbott and Costello In The Foreign Legion, 1950
- Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man, 1951
- Comin’ Round The Mountain, 1951
- Jack And The Beanstalk, 1952
- Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd, 1952
- Lost In Alaska, 1952
- Abbott and Costello Go To Mars, 1953
- Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde, 1954
- Abbott and Costello Meet The Keystone Cops, 1955
- Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy, 1955
- Dance With Me Henry, 1956
- The Abbott and Costello Show, 1952-53
Articles on Abbott and Costello
- Bud Abbott biography
- The Man Everyone Forgot – interview with Bud Abbott after the death of Lou Costello, after his bankruptcy courtesy of the IRS
- Lou Costello biography
- The Feud of Abbott & Costello
Abbott & Costello – famous routines
- A Dollar A Day – After working for Bud Abbott for a full year for the sum of one dollar a day, Lou Costello wants to get paid — but he’ll be lucky to get “sum” of it!
- Hertz U-Drive – Abbott and Costello need to rent a car from Hertz. U-Drive? No, I’ll drive!
- Jonah and the Apples – routine with Lou Costello trying to tell a joke, despite constant interruptions from Bud Abbott
- Susquehanna Hat Company – also known as Bagel Street or Fluegel Street – where Lou has to deliver some hats – what could possibly go wrong?
- Slowly I Turned – the vaudeville routine made famous by the Three Stooges, as performed by Abbott and Costello
- Turkey Sandwich and a Cup of Coffee – classic routine with Bud Abbott trying to put on a good front, even though he and Lou Costello only have 25 cents
- Two Tens for a Five – classic routine with Bud Abbott swindling Lou Costello
- The Vitamin Skit – from Abbott and Costello’s radio series
- Who’s on First? – their most famous routine