Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer Boris Karloff
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 (prostate 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.
Facts About the Team…
- 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.
The 60/40 split was only for the Pantages engagement, not the entire partnership; oh, and Lou was 52 when he died, not 53.
AKPHONSE DATTOLO says
THERE WILL NEVER BE A COMEDY TEAM LIKE BUD ABBOTT(1895-1974) AND LOU COSTELLO (1906-1959). GOD BLESS THEM AND MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.
Robert Aleman Jr says
Growing up in Paterson every Sunday after church we could not wait to come home to watch Abbott and Costello at noontime. We laughed so hard at every movie episode. It was a good family tradition and memory just like my mom’s Sunday dinners.
C. Vallone says
I moved to So. Attleboro in 1948. My mother always to me that Lou Costello was married at St. Teresa’s Church just over the Pawtucket line. I understand that Lou’s wife was from Pawtucket.
Growing up in the fifties in a small town in Louisiana, I saw reruns of all the Abbott and Costello movies. They were all new to me and were the most anticipated events of my childhood. To this day, our beloved Lou Costello is the funniest act I’ve ever seen. My children and grandchildren never “got” their type of humor. This is sad to me. I wanted their movies and humor to live forever.
They were the greatest. Living an unhappy upbringing I could always turn to the boys for fun, laughter and happiness. They will always be in my heart.
Dominic Benjamin says
Where did Lou Costello live in Paterson? What street?
Dominic, I’m not sure – I’ll try to do a little more research and try to find out!
Phillip Marshall says
There is a made for tv Abbot and Costello biographical movie which is very accurate with Buddy Hackett and Harvey Korman. Very accurate and very sad.
Phillip Marshall says
There is a statue on Main St. Paterson just over the city line from Clifton, N.J. I passed it almost once a week. Too bad they put all their confidence in their accountant who stole millions and left them broke due to IRS liens.
Why o why did the wife put the playpen next to the swimming pool? I lost my first son and everyday, I think about him. I felt the anguish and pain that Lou Costello felt.
Why Abbott and Costello had to fight about billing and money is a mystery to me. Except for the fact those little GREEN MONSTERS, GREED and JEALOUSY reared their nasty heads.
My very vulgar father once said, how many toilets can you use at the same time. The two of them were making very good money and should have concentrated on enjoying it and paying attention to the thieving accountant.
Stupidly, they did not get a good tax lawyer.
Ben Hazard says
No garbage or filth ever came out of their mouths ! Yet they were far more funny and entertaining than today’s comics ! They didn’t push their politics on you either.I wish today’s comedians could be like that ! ! !
I watched every movie and their show was great. I got my kids hooked on them….now it’s time for the grandkids….they were great.
Actually, the 60/40 split thing worked in Lou’s favor, not Bud’s. Bud didn’t want to play the Pantages because the duo had standing contractual obligations to other theater owners, which couldn’t be broken without engendering ill-will. Lou lured Bud into playing the Pantages by offering him a 60/40 split of the proceeds. But Lou resented it, and thereafter demanded a 60/40 split for himself.
Grew up watching this duo . They were hilarious !!
Agreed, Michael – their comedy is timeless and I could watch them every single day… and laugh out loud each time!
Kenneth Roman says
They we’re born to be together it’s like my mother always told me some things are born to be. God bless them all. I love Lucy all the real funny people the real good movie stars are gone. Now Hollywood is a slum or gettos it looks good but it’s still a gettos. Gust lisin.to the news.
Those great stars of Hollywood are long gone, movies and television will never be the same.Times always change but not always for the better.
Eleanor RUDLAND says
My very favorite Abbott and Costello movie was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein…the runner up is The Time of Their Lives. I love those guys…may they rest in peace.
They’re two of my favorites, too, Eleanor. They were just movie magic!
I grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. Paterson was a beautiful city. It had many movie theaters and plenty to do. Abbott and Costello were exceptional comedians. There wasn’t any script that children were not able to watch. The were comedians and did not use their popularity for political purposes.
It made me so happy when Lou Costello would mention Paterson in his films. He never forgot his home town. It was sad that they broke up. Lou Costello died at a young age and Bud Abbott had a sad ending. One of my favorite’s is Jack and the Beanstalk along with many others. The comedians today, in my opinion, will never be what comedians of yesterday were.
W. Winkler says
Oops: It’s prostate cancer, not prostrate.
Thank you! Big mistype there – I appreciate you pointing it out. I fixed it!
Mercy Lindo says
Who was the girl in the beginning of every episode w/o always placed the credits sign in front of Costello’s face? Anyone know?