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Abbott and Costello ACTOR


The team of Abbott and Costello was one of the most remarkable and eminent comedy duos in show business history. The rapid word play and confusion in each of their skits quickly made them a popular pair, and thus their successful career in radio, television, and movies lasted over twenty years. The partnership consisted of Bud Abbott (October 2, 1895 – April 24, 1974) and Lou Costello (March 6, 1906 – March 3, 1959).

Abbott had been working as a burlesque entertainer and was one of the top straight men in the business. Costello was a struggling actor who decided to go into burlesque comedy once he could find no work. Their paths crossed many times before they actually became a comedy team. In the 1930s they became friends, and in 1935 they first worked together at the Eltinge Theatre on 42nd Street in New York. However, their official teaming was in 1936. They modified different burlesque sketches into their own silly skits, where Abbott was the straight man and Costello was the foolish laugh-getter. They quickly became popular burlesque personalities, but it was not until they were featured on radio’s Kate Smith Hour in 1938 that they gained national exposure. It was there that they debuted with a version of their most famous act -- Who’s on First?, replacing Henny Youngman on the show for the next two years. This recognition led to their involvement in the 1939 Broadway musical The Streets of Paris, which was received well by Hollywood and many critics.

In 1939, due to the duo’s increasing fame, Universal Pictures had them sign a contract. Their first appearance was supporting roles in the musical One Night in the Tropics (1940). However, they stole the show with their hilarious antics, and Universal had them continue to perform in additional movies. The studio quickly signed them up to star in another film, Buck Privates (1941). Their stardom was extremely apparent after this role, and in October of 1941 their handprints and footprints were enshrined at Graumann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. Soon after they performed in a succession of successful pictures like In the Navy (1942), Keep 'Em Flying (1942), Hold That Ghost (1942), and Who Done It? (1942). In 1942 they were voted as the #1 box office stars.

By 1945, the team had starred in fifteen features and was the biggest box office attraction during the first half of the decade. Their formula was simple: put Abbott and Costello in a respectable setting, have them cause pandemonium, and then leave room for some of their unbeaten comedy acts. Between 1940 and 1956 they made over thirty films. Their best known skit, Who’s on First?, was shown fully in The Naughty Nineties (1945). During the World War II era they were also wildly popular and among some of the highest paid entertainers. In addition, they helped the war effort by funding a cross-country tour to raise money for the War Bond Drive, providing $85 million for the government. All of this transpired while they continued to entertain audiences in pictures such as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948), which became an international cult classic, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951).

In 1951 the duo made their first television appearance, hosting The Colgate Comedy Hour, a live variety show. They performed on it a total of twenty times between 1951 and 1955. In 1952, Abbott and Costello launched their own thirty minute sitcom titled The Abbott and Costello Show, which ran until 1954. The series was later rebroadcast and even turned into VHS tapes and DVDS.

In the 1950s the team’s status started fading. They had been releasing two new films every year, Universal had been releasing their older hits, and they also had their own TV show and guest appearances. Their partnership began to dissipate. Abbott and Costello’s’ final picture was Dance with Me, Henry (1956).

In 1957 they split, with numerous features behind them including Rio Rita (1941), Here Come the Co-Eds (1945), Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949), and Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1954).

Costello wanted to go on to have a solo career, appearing in one movie called The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959), but he died of a heart attack on March 3, 1959 before it was released. Abbott attempted a comeback in the 1960s, but found no success. However, in 1965 a compilation film was created called The World of Abbott and Costello. From 1966 to 1967, one hundred and fifty six five-minute Abbott and Costello cartoons were created. Fifteen years after the death of his partner, Abbott passed away on April 24, 1974.

Although they are both now gone, the impact they made will last forever. Abbott and Costello each have three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame -- one for radio, one for television, and another for motion pictures. They have also had a number of books written about them, were given a commemorative US postage stamp, have had multiple television specials, and had two asteroid belts named after each of them. In addition, they have been referenced in a large variety of things, from the movie Rain Man (1988) to the kid’s television show Veggie Tales. Abbott and Costello’s legacy still thrives today, but no one has described the brilliance of their comedy better than Jerry Seinfeld when he stated, “If it weren't for Abbott and Costello, many of the wonderful burlesque routines which are a part of the American fabric would have been lost forever. They were giants of their time, who truly immortalized burlesque forever”.


1965   The World of Abbott and Costello

1956   Dance with Me, Henry 

1955   Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy 

1955   Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops 

1953   Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 

1953   Abbott and Costello Go to Mars 

1952   The Abbott and Costello Show

1952   Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd

1952   Lost in Alaska

1952   Jack and the Beanstalk 

1951   Comin' Round the Mountain

1951   Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man

1950   The Colgate Comedy Hour starring Abbott and Costello

1950   Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion 

1949   Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff 

1949   Africa Screams 

1948   Mexican Hayride 

1948   Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein 

1948   The Noose Hangs High 

1947   Buck Privates Come Home 

1947   The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap 

1946   The Time of Their Lives 

1946   Little Giant 

1945   Abbott and Costello in Hollywood 

1945   The Naughty Nineties

1945   Here Come the Co-eds 

1944   In Society 

1944   Lost in a Harem 

1943   Hit the Ice 

1943   It Ain't Hay 

1942   Rio Rita 

1942   Who Done It? 

1942   Pardon My Sarong 

1942   Ride 'Em Cowboy 

1941   Keep 'Em Flying

1941   Hold That Ghost

1941   In the Navy

1941   Buck Privates

1940   One Night in the Tropics

Matinee Classics - Africa Screams starring Abbott and Costello - Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Hillary Brooke, Max Baer, Clyde Beatty, Frank Buck and Shemp Howard
Matinee Classics - Abbott and Costello go to Mars with Mari Blanchard
Matinee Classics - Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd
Matinee Classics - Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein with Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi and Glenn Strange
Matinee Classics - Ride 'Em Cowboy starring Abbott and Costello - Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Dick Foran, Anne Gwynne, Johnny Mack Brown and Judd McMichael
Matinee Classics - Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion with Patricia Medina
Matinee Classics - Abbott and Costello in Hollywood with Frances Rafferty and Robert Stanton
Matinee Classics - Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Boris Karloff
Matinee Classics - Abbott and Costello - Who's on First?
Matinee Classics - Jack and the Beanstalk starring Abbott and Costello

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