Lou Costello

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Lou Costello
Lou Costello.jpg
Birth name Louis Francis Cristillo
Born March 6, 1906 in Paterson, New Jersey, USA
Died March 3, 1959 in Los Angeles, California, USA from heart attack
Notable Roles The Colgate Comedy Hour: Host
The Abbott and Costello Show: Lou Costello
Notable Episodes The Colgate Comedy Hour: 1x18 - Abbott and Costello
Awards 1 TV Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Other: 1 Motion Picture Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
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Lou Costello was an American comedian best known for being the comic in the classic comedy duo Abbott & Costello.

Contents

Biography

Lou Costello was born Louis Francis Cristillo on March 6, 1906 in Paterson, New Jersey. As a youth, he excelled in basketball, but he dropped out of high school to try his hand at being an actor in Hollywood. While he worked on several films as an extra, carpenter and stuntman, he was not able to hit the big time on his own, so he returned to the Midwest and hit the burlesque circuit as a comic. While on this circuit, he married his wife, Anne Battlers, with whom he would have four children.

A chance encounter with straight man Bud Abbott in 1931—a cashier who subbed for Costello's usual straight man in Brooklyn who had fallen ill—led to a lifelong partnership when the two formally became a comedy duo five years later. An appearance on the radio show The Kate Smith Hour led to a film contract with Universal Studios, and by their second film, Buck Privates, the duo had accomplished the highest-grossing Universal film to date. They continued to be among the biggest comedy stars throughout World War II and beyond, and they were honored by New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia for raising a record-breaking multi-million-dollar amount for war bonds during the war.

In 1943, an attack of rheumatic fever would leave Costello unable to work for almost a year. Upon his intended return, he suffered tragedy when his only son, Lou, Jr., drowned to death as an infant on the day Costello was supposed to return to the radio. Nonetheless, Costello performed his radio broadcast, and the audience learned of his personal tragedy only later.

At the dawn of television, Abbott and Costello found success as hosts of The Colgate Comedy Hour on NBC and stars of The Abbott and Costello Show on CBS. In 1956, they made their final television appearance together on The Steve Allen Show, where it was announced that a recording of their famous "Who's on First!" routine had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The following year, they dissolved their partnership after filming their final film together, Dance with Me Henry.

At the end of their partnership, both Abbott and Costello found themselves in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service for back taxes. Sadly, Costello had little time to work to repay the debt, as he died on March 3, 1959 of a heart attack. His remains were interred in the Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles.

Roles

Starring Roles

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

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 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) May 23, 1954
The Colgate Comedy Hour Guest 5x27 - Rhonda Fleming and Gordon MacRae (May 15, 1955) May 23, 1954
General Electric Theater Neal Andrews 7x01 - Blaze of Glory September 21, 1958
Wagon Train Tobias Jones 2x04 - The Tobias Jones Story October 22, 1958

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
I've Got a Secret June 26, 1957
The Steve Allen Show (1956) March 9, 1958
The Ed Sullivan Show November 16, 1958

Producer

Series Year(s) Credit Season(s)
I'm the Law 1953 –  Producer

Memorable Moments

Awards and Accolades

  • Hollywood Walk of Fame
    • TV Star
    • Motion Picture Star
  • 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 Bud Abbott
  • United States Postal Service, USA
    • Honored with a stamp in 1991

Trivia

  • In the early days of his work with Bud Abbott, 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.