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Abbott & Costello Quarterly Fan FAQ

Frequently asked questions about...
Bud & LouThe RoutinesThe MoviesRadio & TVCo-Stars

FAQs about Bud & Lou

When and where were Abbott and Costello born, and what were their real names?

William Alexander Abbott was born October 2, 1897 in Asbury Park, N.J.
Louis Francis Cristillo was born March 6, 1906 in Paterson, N.J.

When did Lou Costello die, and is there an Abbott and Costello Museum in Paterson?

Lou died of a heart attack March 3, 1959, three days short of his 53rd birthday. He had four children--- three daughters and a son. Two daughters and numerous grandchildren survive. (His youngest daughter, Chris, wrote an excellent biography of her dad called "Lou's On First," published by Cooper Square Press.)
There is no A&C museum in Paterson, but some A&C memorabilia is on display in the Paterson Museum. In 1992 a statue of Costello was erected in Paterson in Federici Park, on Cianci Street between Van Houten and Ellison. In 2005, the City Council voted unanimously to rename Madison Street as Lou Costello's Place in honor of his birthplace.

When did Bud die, and was he broke when he passed away?

Bud died on April 24, 1974. He was 76. According to Bud Abbott Jr., his dad had a comfortable retirement. Of course, he had to sell his showplace home in Encino, and turn over his residuals to some of the A&C films to the IRS. But he moved to a beautiful house in Woodland Hills, and put in a swimming pool and rumpus room. Apparently some agreement was reached with the IRS so that he continued to receive earnings from his films. Although it was a far cry from his glory days in the Forties, he was not destitute at the end.

FAQs about The Routines

Where can I find the "7x13=28" routine?

The "7x13=28" sketch appears in the Universal films "In The Navy" (1941) and "Little Giant" (1946), available on MCA Home Video; the May 4, 1952 "Colgate Comedy Hour"; and in the boys' TV series episode "The Army Story," (Volume 10 of the A&C TV show series released by Shanachie Home Video and available from Abbott and Costello Collectibles).

In which films did they do the "Bagel Street" sketch, where Costello tries to deliver hats to the Susquehanna Hat Company?

This routine appears in the film "In Society" (1944), and in the compilation film "The World of Abbott and Costello" (1965), available from MCA Home Video. It also appears as "Flugle Street" in the TV episode "Getting a Job," which is on Vol. 2 of "The Abbott and Costello Show" released by Shanachie Home Entertainment and available from Abbott and Costello Collectibles.

Did the classic bit "Niagara Falls/Slowly I Turn" originate with Bud and Lou? I saw the Three Stooges perform the same routine in one of their shorts.

No, Bud and Lou didn't originate the "Niagara Falls" (a.k.a. "Slooowly I Turned") routine; it is an old burlesque bit. As A&C screenwriter Harry Crane explained in the book, Abbott and Costello in Hollywood,  "That [routine] is a burlesque classic; all the comics knew it, and there were even several different versions of it." That's why the Stooges were able to do the "Niagara Falls" version of the routine in their short, "Gents Without Cents," while Bud and Lou did the "Pokomoko" version in their film, "Lost in a Harem." Both films were playing in movie theaters late in 1944! Years later, Bud and Lou did the "Niagra Falls" version with Sid Fields in the "Jail" episode of the team's TV series. That's on Vol. 7 of of "The Abbott and Costello Show" released by Shanachie Home Entertainment and available from Abbott and Costello Collectibles.

In the "Who's On First?" routine, every player is named except the right fielder. Was anything ever done which officially, or even unofficially, to identify the right fielder?

We've never seen or heard the right fielder cited in any version of the routine. However, the Who's on First?  board game (released by Selchow & Righter in the 1970s) needed to name a right fielder, so they used "Nobody," which is as good a name as any.

FAQs about The Movies

In which film does Lou play a ghost haunting a house?

The film you remember is called "The Time of Their Lives." It starts off during the Revolutionary War, when Lou and Marjorie Reynolds are mistakenly shot as traitors. The film moves ahead to modern times (1946), with Costello and Reynolds haunting the current residents of the estate, while trying to prove their innocence. It is available from MCA Home Video.

I have two silent 8 mm Abbott and Costello films which my father purchased when I was very young. The titles are "No Indians, Please" and "Fun on the Run." The first one is a Headline Edition and the second is a Complete Edition. Is there anything you can tell me about these movies?

The films you mention are Castle Film releases. Castle released 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm clips from Universal films of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties. The "Headline" editions were shorter versions; the "Complete" were, well, complete.
The interesting story about the A&C Castle releases is that they led to a $5 million lawsuit by Bud and Lou against Universal Pictures. The studio had licensed Castle to distribute these 8mm or 16mm versions of the boys' routines without A&C's permission or knowledge. The lawsuit claimed that the studio made $1.25 million on the shorts, and never told the team about it. Eventually the suit was settled, and Universal gave Bud and Lou 50% of the profits from the Castle releases, of which there were about 20.
The Castle shorts frequently turn up for auction on eBay, and sell for $10 to $20. For more on Castle films, visit http://www.capital.net/com/jaytp/Castle.htm.

Where I can get a copy of Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd ?

Unfortunately, Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd---one of the team's two color films---has not been available on video since Turner bought the RKO and Warner film libraries. Beware of very poor copies offered on internet movie and auction sites. The film has turned up on TNT, however, so you may want to keep checking the Abbott and Costello TV Schedule, which keeps track of the boys' films on cable TV.
In 2002, the film was completely restored for theatrical, broadcast and home video release. This is great news, since the only available print is muddy and doesn't do justice to the rich color (Super CineColor) of the original film.

Did Abbott and Costello ever meet the Creature from the Black Lagoon?

Yes, but not in a movie. Bud and Lou met the Creature in a ten-minute sketch on the Colgate Comedy Hour. This was a big-budget variety show that ran on NBC TV the early Fifties, during the same period when Bud and Lou were filming their classic TV series.

FAQs about Co-Stars

Is Lou's older brother still alive? Did he have any children?

Lou's brother, Pat, died in 1990 at the age of 87. His real name was Anthony Cristillo, and he is survived by his wife, Margaret ("Marty"), and their daughter, Susan.
Lou and Pat also had a younger sister, Marie, who passed away in 1988. She was married to Joe Kirk, who played Mr. Bacciagalupe on the TV series. Kirk died in 1975. They had two sons, who survive.

What can you tell us about Sid Fields?

Sid was born in Milwaukee in 1898, and joined a midwest carnival show in his teens. Later he went to New York and entered burlesque. Sid had already established himself as a "Top Banana" by the time he met Bud and Lou on the burlesque circuit in the early 1930s. Sid was also a prolific sketch writer, and his version of the old "Niagara Falls (Slowly I Turned)" sketch became the standard.
Sid graduated from burlesque and began writing for radio comedians like Eddie Cantor and Rudy Vallee. In 1944, he began his long association with Abbott and Costello by contributing gags to their film "In Society." Sid joined the writing staff of the team's radio show, and also appeared as various characters on the air. He was with them when they made the transition to TV in the early 1950s.
After "The Abbott and Costello Show" went off the air in the mid-1950s, Sid teamed up with another old friend from burlesque, Ben Blue. They appeared in Las Vegas and on the old Ed Sullivan show. After Abbott and Costello broke up in 1957, Sid worked with Lou in Las Vegas in Costello's last professional appearance. Sid joined the cast of the Jackie Gleason TV series from 1960-62. When the show moved to Miami, Sid was dropped from the cast. He returned to Las Vegas, where he appeared in burlesque revues and wrote a show business nostalgia column for a local newspaper. Sid passed away on Sept. 28, 1975. He was 77. His wife, Marie, was seriously ill in the hospital at the time, and passed away soon after.

FAQs about Radio & TV

Where can I find Abbott and Costello radio shows?

Visit Radio Spirits, which offers dozens of A&C radio shows. Another source is www.old-time.com, which features dozens of links to private and commercial radio show collections.

Are there more A&C radio episodes in existence, other than the two dozen or so shows that have surfaced on cassette over the past 20 years?

Yes, there are more. Hundreds more. In 1985, the archivist for the A&C estates, Bob Furmanek, rescued 25 boxes of discs and recordings from a warehouse in Van Nuys. When he inspected the long-forgotten crates, Bob was shocked to discover that the boxes contained more than 300 Abbott and Costello radio appearances, from their earliest Kate Smith shows in 1938 to their last pre-recorded ABC programs in 1949. There were other recordings, too, including live performances at the Hollywood Bowl in 1946 and the War Bond Tours of 1942. Metacom released a few of these radio shows in 1986 (without the commercials), but this A&C goldmine has yet to be tapped!

Where can I get the the boys' TV series theme song?

The Abbott and Costello TV theme is available on the CD "Television's Greatest Hits, Vol. 4---Black & White Classics." It retails for $19.95.

Where was "The Abbott and Costello Show" filmed?

Don't be misled by the tour guides at Universal Studios. The show was actually filmed at the old Hal Roach Studios, where Laurel and Hardy made their classic shorts and the TV series "Amos n Andy" and "My Little Margie" were shot. The studio was torn down in the Sixties.

More questions? E-mail us.

Here are some other sites A&C fans may enjoy visiting:
Abbott and Costello Collectibles
Abbott and Costello TV Schedule
The Internet Movie Database
Universal Studios/MCA Home Video
MGM/UA Home Video
Radio Spirits

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