Abbott and Costello Quarterly No. 72 is now online on the “Current Issue” page exclusively to fan club members.
Quarterly 72’s News pages cover the release of all 28 Abbott and Costello Universal films and Africa Screams on Blu-ray. (Africa Screams will be out this month; ClassicFlix.com is taking pre-orders.)
The issue’s Feature article is the first installment of “Lou Costello: The Early Years,” tracing Lou’s life before he and Bud teamed up in 1936. Part 1 covers Lou’s teenage basketball and boxing career; his year in Hollywood as a stunt man and extra; and the start of his journey back home.
As many fans know, Lou was obsessed was sports, particularly basketball. He played on several school, club, and company teams between 1920 and 1926, often concurrently. The Paterson News noted in March 1923 that “Little Louie Cristillo…plays with a different team every night of the week…Louie was the smallest man on the floor, but that didn’t make any difference to him and he played just as good as any man on the winning team.”
Costello’s prowess as a foul shot and many of his prize fights under the name “Lou King” are also documented.
But Lou also dreamed of becoming an actor, and set out for Hollywood soon after turning 21. He claimed to have appeared in over 60 films as an extra and stunt man, but since 80% of all silent films no longer exist, that is virtually impossible to corroborate. The article does confirm his appearance in several movies, but evidence convincingly refutes other longstanding film credits such as The Big Parade and Bardelys The Magnificent.
Part 2 (in Quarterly 73) will pick up with Costello’s arrival in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he began his career as a burlesque comic, and follow him to his first chance meeting with Bud Abbott in 1933, and his marriage to dancer Anne Battler in 1934. Part 3 (in Quarterly 74) will trace Lou’s burlesque work up to and including his teaming with Abbott in 1936. (Bud’s early life was also covered in previous issues of the Quarterly.)
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