You are looking at a picture of one of my greatest obsessions – Abbott and Costello. I could watch their movies and/or routines daily and laugh as though it were the first time EACH time. As someone who loves few things as much as laughing, I guess it’s only expected that they’d float my boat so perfectly.
There was a lot more to Bud Abbott and Lou Costello than most of us realize. They were much more intellectual (and certainly more serious) than we envision them. In fact, off screen, the men barely resembled the characters they played.
Below are a few fast facts about these brilliant men.
Facts about Bud Abbott
- William Alexander Abbott was born in 1895.
- Both of his parents (Rae and Harry) at one time worked for the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
- Bud worked in carnivals, as a child, and dropped out of school in 1909.
- In 1931, he stood in for comic Lou Costello’s straight-man who was ill. The two clicked almost immediately and… the rest is history!
In 1940 he made his film debut in One Night in the Tropics, which was also his first film pairing with his partner Lou Costello.
Bud has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio (6333 Hollywood Boulevard), Motion Pictures (1611 Vine Street), and Television (6740 Hollywood Boulevard).
Bud Abbott was a lifelong epileptic.
His twin sister, Olive Victoria Abbott, was in vaudeville and lived to be 101 years old!
He was an avid gun collector and once owned an Adolf Hitler shotgun.
One story has it that, at Lou Costello’s insistence, the monies earned from the their act were split 60/40, favoring Bud Abbott. Lou Costello reasoned that “…comics are a dime a dozen. Good straight men are hard to find.”
After Abbott and Costello broke up, Bud Abbott said, “I never understood Lou.”
Married Betty Smith in 1918. They adopted two children.
- A favorite Bud Abbott Quote was, “You never heard of a comedy team that didn’t fight, did you?“
Died in 1974 (prostrate cancer).
Facts About Lou Costello
- Born in 1906 in New Jersey.
- His parents were Helen and Sebastiano Cristillo. His father was from Calabria, Italy, and his mother was an American of Italian, French, and Irish ancestry.
- Before teaming with Bud Abbott, Lou Costello worked as a stuntman.
- Lou Costello was married to Anne Battler from January 1934 – March 1959 (his death)
- Lou mentioned his hometown (Paterson, New Jersey) in virtually every episode of his TV show and in many of his films – listen for it, it’s amazing (and touching) how he works it in.
- Tragically, his only son, Lou Jr., drowned in the family’s swimming pool just days before his first birthday.
- Lou Costello simply took home any prop or furniture from a set that he took a liking to. Once, during filming of Hit The Ice, the director was reshooting a scene when he noticed all the furniture was gone! Sure enough, Lou had hauled it off to his place – so an arrangement was made for him to bring it back just long enough to reshoot the scenes.
- Costello wanted to change the name of the duo to “Costello and Abbott.” Naturally, Universal Pictures wasn’t for the idea. The result was a “permanent chill” between the partners that lasted until their split in the late 1950s.
- After the death of his son, Lou Costello Jr., he somehow performed the “Who’s On First” routine as usual, but with tears running down his face.
- Lou was an amateur boxer.
He was awarded three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: for Motion Pictures at 6438 Hollywood Blvd., for Radio at 6780 Hollywood Blvd. and for Television at 6276 Hollywood Blvd.
- In 1943, Lou developed rheumatic fever. The disease damaged his heart and led to the heart attack that killed him – three days before his 53rd birthday.
Bud’s one starring role in a feature film, without Bud Abbott, was in The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959). He died before it was released.
- Abbott and Costello are known in Italy as “Gianni and Pinotto”, Abbott being Gianni and Costello being Pinotto.
Abbott and Costello are the only two non-sportsmen honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, for their “Who’s On First” routine. They aren’t, of course, members of the Hall of Fame, but the fact that their wonderful routine is so appreciated is priceless.
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were so popular that there was an “Abbott and Costello” comic book that was published for about ten years until their partnership ended in 1956.
They performed the “Who’s on first” routine for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.