Bud Abbott

From The TV IV
Jump to: navigation, search
Bud Abbott
Bud-Abbott.jpg
Birth name William Alexander Abbott
Born October 2, 1895 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA
Died April 12, 1974 in Woodland Hills, California, USA from cancer
Notable Roles The Colgate Comedy Hour: Host
The Abbott and Costello Show: Bud Abbott
Notable Episodes The Colgate Comedy Hour: 1x18 - Abbott and Costello
Awards 2 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Bud Abbott was an American comedian best known for being the straight man in the classic comedy duo Abbott & Costello.

Contents

Biography

William Alexander Abbott was born on October 2, 1895 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, to a Barnum and Bailey Circus family. His father Harry was an advance man, and his mother Rae Fisher was a bareback rider. His younger sister, Olive Victoria Abbott, would also perform in the circus and Vaudeville.

Abbott entered the family business and worked for carnivals and circuses before he dropped out of school in 1909 and went to work full time in travelling and theatrical entertainment at Coney Island and elsewhere. He took various jobs both onstage and off, and at the age of 16, Abbott's father got him a job as a treasurer for the Casino Theater in Brooklyn.

Abbott entered the burlesque circuit and quickly gained a reputation as a talented straight man who had performed opposite such noted Vaudeville comics as Harry Steppe and Harry Evanson. In 1918, he met and married burlesque dancer and comedienne Betty Smith. In 1931, he was asked to fill in as straight man for Lou Costello. The two had chemistry and found audiences responded well to them, so in 1936 they formed a comedy duo which would last for the next twenty years.

After a popular appearance on The Kate Smith Hour radio show, and an appearance in the Broadway show The Streets of Paris, Universal Studios hired the two for film work in 1939. Although only in supporting roles, they stole their scenes in their film debut, One Night in the Tropics. They were soon starring in their own films, among the most popular and successful film comedies of World War II. They became international celebrities who lent their clout to the war bonds effort. Also in the 1940s, Abbott and his wife adopted two children—Bud, Jr. in 1942 and Victoria in 1949.

At the dawn of television, NBC cast Abbott and Costello to host The Colgate Comedy Hour, a variety show with rotating hosts. The success of their work there led CBS to create The Abbott and Costello Show to showcase their classic comedy bits, including the famous "Who's on First" routine.

In 1957, Abbott and Costello split amicably, but they were deeply in debt to the Internal Revenue Services for back taxes. Abbott was forced to sell his Encino, California estate and ran an unsuccessful campaign for donations. Desperate for money and with Costello now dead, he attempted to form a new comedy duo with Candy Candido, but this did not last long, and Abbott was reported as having said that nobody could live up to his experience with Costello.

Bud Abbott died on April 24, 1974 in Woodland Hills, California of cancer—the result of a lifelong battle with epilepsy. His cremated remains were spread over the Pacific Ocean.

Roles

Starring Roles

Series Role Year(s) Season(s)
The Abbott and Costello Show (1952) Himself 1952–1953 1 2
The Abbott and Costello Show (1966) Himself 1966 1

Guest Starring Roles

Series Role Episode Airdate
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 1x18 - Abbott and Costello (January 7, 1951) January 7, 1951
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 1x27 - Abbott and Costello (March 11, 1951) March 11, 1951
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 2x07 - Abbott and Costello (October 14, 1951) October 14, 1951
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 2x12 - Abbott and Costello (November 18, 1951) November 18, 1951
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 2x20 - Abbott and Costello (January 13, 1952) January 13, 1952
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 2x32 - Abbott and Costello (April 6, 1952) April 6, 1952
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 2x36 - Abbott and Costello (May 4, 1952) May 4, 1952
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 3x04 - Abbott and Costello (October 19, 1952) October 19, 1952
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 3x09 - Abbott and Costello (November 23, 1952) November 23, 1952
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 3x12 - Abbott and Costello (December 14, 1952) December 14, 1952
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 3x16 - Abbott and Costello (January 11, 1953) January 11, 1953
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 3x26 - Episode One Hundred (March 22, 1953) March 22, 1953
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 3x30 - Abbott and Costello (April 26, 1953) April 26, 1953
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 4x05 - Bud Abbott (November 1, 1953) November 1, 1953
The Colgate Comedy Hour Guest 4x21 - Gene Wesson (February 21, 1954) February 21, 1954
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 4x25 - Abbott and Costello (March 21, 1954) March 21, 1954
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 4x28 - Abbott and Costello (April 18, 1954) April 18, 1954
The Colgate Comedy Hour Host 4x33 - Abbott and Costello (May 23, 1954) May 23, 1954
The Colgate Comedy Hour Guest 5x20 - Gordon MacRae (March 13, 1955) March 13, 1955
The Colgate Comedy Hour Guest 5x27 - Rhonda Fleming and Gordon MacRae (May 15, 1955) May 15, 1955
General Electric Theater Ernie Kauffman 9x25 - The Joke's on Me April 16, 1961

Specials and Made-for-TV Movies

Talk, News and Game Show Appearances

Series Episode Airdate
The Ed Sullivan Show December 4, 1955
This Is Your Life Lou Costello November 21, 1956

Notable Film Roles

Memorable Moments

Awards and Accolades

Hollywood Walk of Fame

  • TV Star
  • Motion Picture Star

Other Accolades

  • Baseball Hall of Fame, USA
    • Recording of "Who's on First?" comedy routine at museum
  • Montclair University, USA
    • Named the Abbott and Costello Center after him and Lou Costello
  • United States Postal Service, USA
    • Honored with a stamp in 1991

Trivia

  • In the early days of his work with Lou Costello, their pay was split 60/40, with Abbott receiving the larger share, in keeping with an old Vaudeville tradition that the straight man received the larger share. In their later film work, that split was corrected to favor Costello.