Among the 409 items from the estate of Jerry Lewis sold at auction on June 22 was a 14-carat yellow gold money clip gifted to Lewis by Lou Costello in 1953. Like most of the items in the sale, it far exceeded the auction estimate. The money clip sold for $10,240, about ten times the auction estimate of $800-$1200. One side the money clip shows the masks of comedy and tragedy with the credo “The Show Must Go On.” The reverse side is engraved, “To Jerry In Grateful Appreciation, Lou Costello. Nov. 1, 1953.”
It was a token of Lou’s appreciation when Martin and Lewis joined Bud Abbott that night on the Colgate Comedy Hour because Costello was too ill to appear. After finishing rehearsals three days earlier, Costello collapsed while boarding a plane to keep a speaking engagement in Phoenix for the unscrupulous Communist hunter, Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The pace had simply caught up with Lou. Between 1951 and 1953 Abbott and Costello made twelve appearances on the Comedy Hour; filmed 52 episodes of their classic television series; shot six motion pictures; and toured Europe. Costello was confined to bed for three weeks and prohibited from working for four months. Jerry Lewis was one of the first people to reach out to Bud. (Other Colgate hosts also volunteered.)
This goodwill raised eyebrows in Hollywood since the two comedy teams were rumored to be feuding. In 1944, Lou Costello signed Dean to a personal services contract two years before he teamed with Jerry. Lou received 25% of Martin’s earnings, advanced him money, had his agent get Dean gigs, and even paid for Martin’s nose job. There was talk that Dean would appear in an Abbott and Costello movie or sing on their radio show. If he had, he probably never would have met Jerry Lewis in 1946 at the Glass Hat Club in New York.
Bud introduced two clips from Abbott and Costello’s most recent Colgate appearances and then turned the second half of the show over to Dean and Jerry.
This episode is on the Blu-ray DVD Abbott and Costello Rarities from Thunderbean Animation.