COVID-19: We have resumed very limited warehouse and shipping operations. Please see here for details.

Abbott & Costello Biography

Teaming up in 1931, Abbott And Costello were in vaudeville before gaining success in radio, films and television. Bud Abbott (William A. Abbott, 2 October 1895, Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA, d. 24 April 1974, Woodland Hills, California, USA) was born into a circus family, he worked front-of-house in a New York theatre until called to stand in as Lou Costello’s straight man. Lou Costello (b. Louis Francis Cristillo, 6 March 1906, Paterson, New Jersey, USA, d. 3 March 1959, Los Angeles, California, USA), after failing to break into films, went into vaudeville and had his chance encounter with Abbott. In the late 30s, they had a radio show and appeared in Broadway’s Streets Of Paris (1939) and in the 1940 Allan Jones film, One Night In The Tropics. Their follow-up, Buck Privates (1941), was a hit and they had many moneymaking films through the decade. In the 50s their film popularity waned, although they were successful on television. Their act broke up in 1957 and within two years Costello was dead. Abbott attempted unsuccessfully to continue with other partners.

Abbott And Costello’s classic routines include ‘7 x 13 = 28’ and ‘Who’s On First?’. The former is in 1941’s In The Navy, the latter can be seen in its brilliant entirety in 1945’s The Naughty Nineties. Although Abbott And Costello are not themselves notable for song and dance routines, some of their films have musical interest through co-stars or guest artists: the Andrews Sisters in Buck Privates, In The Navy, Hold That Ghost and Keep ’Em Flying (all 1941), Ride ’Em Cowboy (1942) has Ella Fitzgerald singing ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket’, Rio Rita, is a 1942 version of the Broadway musical, Jimmy Dorsey and his band are in Lost In A Harem (1944), and Dorothy Shay is inComin’ Round The Mountain (1951). Although Mexican Hayride (1948) was based upon a Cole Porter musical that was written by Herbert Fields and Dorothy Fields, the songs are omitted. While not of musical note, the duo’s best films include The Time Of Their Lives (1946) and Buck Privates Come Home (1947). In their private lives, the two men appear to have been considerably less than endearing in their attitude to and treatment of others, including one another. In 1978 the biopic, Bud And Lou, was made for television. Starring Harvey Korman and Buddy Hackett, it was an inadequate epitaph.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

Filter Results