Bring Abbott & Costello Home!

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 The Abbott & Costello Show: 100th Anniversary Collection Season 1

 Abbott & Costello Show - 100th Anniversary Collection Season 2

 Abbott & Costello Sailors Print Sepia Picture

 Smithsonian Legendary Performers: Abbott & Costello (Radio Spirits and the Smithsonian) (Smithsonian Legendary Performers)

 The Abbott & Costello Story: Sixty Years of "Who's on First?"

 Lou's on First: The Tragic Life of Hollywood's Greatest Clown Warmly Recounted by his Youngest Child

THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW

Show Type: Sitcom

Broadcast History:

Syndication and Network Daytime

30 Minutes

Produced from 1951-1953 (52 episodes)

Released in the Fall, 1952

Cast

Bud Abbott..... Himself

Lou Costello..... Himself

Hillary Brooke..... Herself

Sid Fields..... Himself

Mike The Cop..... Gordon Jones

Mr. Bacciagalupe..... Joe Kirk

Stinky..... Joe Besser

Various Supporting Roles

Joan Shawlee

Bobby Barber

Milt Bronson

Producer

Alex Gottlieb

Pat Costello

Director

Jean Yarborough

SYNOPSIS

Critics hated this show. Audiences found it screamingly funny, so much so that it became one of the most successful and most repeated syndicated programs in television history.

It certainly was low-brow slapstick in its purest form, full of terrible puns, improbable situations, and lots of knockabout, physical comedy. There was a story line of sorts, which had Bud (the tall, debonair one) and Lou (the short, silly one) as unemployed actors sharing an apartment in a rooming house run by Mr. Fields, who was always hounding them for back rent. Lou's girlfriend, Hillary, lived across the hall. 

Also living in the boardinghouse was Stinky, a malevolent brat who'd grab Lou's arm and threaten, "I'll harm you!" (Though a grown man, Stinky was always dressed in a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit). Other more or less regular characters were Mike the Cop and Mr. Bacciagalupe, who had different occupations depending on the episode. Appearing frequently in different roles were Joan Shawlee, Bobby Barber (the short, bald guy) and Milt Bronson.

Each program began with a premise, often some scheme of Lou's to make money or avoid paying bills, but soon disintegrated into a succession of unrelated skits and gags. Essentially, the series was a showcase for all of the old material Bud and Lou had been using on stage and in films since the 1930's. They might be at a charity bazaar (where they could work in the "Lemon Bit"), or stranded in a haunted house (good excuse for the "Moving Candle" routine), or in an old folks home full of loonies who were having a baseball game with an imaginary ball (up popped their classic "Who's on First?" routine). Some episodes were complete steals from old silent comedies, including a virtual reenactment of Buster Keaton's 1920 short film, One Week, in which a jealous suitor sabotages the house Lou has built for his fiancÚ.

Lou Costello was the spark plug of all of this frenzy. He was a natural comic, full of gags and practical jokes on screen and off. During filming, even when the action shifted elsewhere, the director kept one camera on Costello so as not to miss any impromptu bits of business! Lou owned the show, and after the first half-dozen episodes installed his brother, Pat Costello, as producer.

After the first 26 episodes were filmed, changes were made. Brooke, Kirk, Besser and Shawlee departed (as did the boys' pet, Bingo the Chimp, who had made the mistake of biting Costello). Director Jean Yarborough tried to get things more organized, with more consistent story lines and a new gag writer, Clyde Bruckman, for Abbott & Costello were running out of their old material.

In all, only 52 total episodes of the program were filmed, but these were highly popular - critics notwithstanding - and were rerun endlessly over the next decades (starting with six months on CBS's Saturday morning lineup from September 1954 to February 1955). One New York station is said to have aired each one of the 52 episodes more than 200 times! It was one of the last great successes for the top comedy team of the 1940's, whose films, radio show, and Colgate Comedy Hour appearances entertained millions.

The pair finally broke up in 1957. Lou Costello, the human dynamo, was worn out by the time he reached his fifties. He died in 1959, at the age of 52. Bud Abbott  passed away in 1974.

A cartoon version of The Abbott & Costello Show was syndicated in 1966, with Abbott providing his own voice.

NOTE:

A detailed and appreciative account of Abbott and Costello's career, including full details on the TV series, can be found in "The Abbott and Costello book (The Popular Library film series)" by Jim Mulholland, published in 1975.

Clicking the link will take you to Amazon.com so you may purchase the book for yourself.

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