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Sunday, January 26, 2014


William "Bud" Abbott

William "Bud" Abbott will forever be remembered as half of the comedy duo "Abbott and Costello," whose partnership of slapstick absurdity kept America laughing through the second World War. Bud is often rated lower on the hilarity totem than his partner Lou Costello-- the bashful, ignorant, lovable clown in their many collaborations-- but Bud was just as essential to their wisecracks. As Lou himself would say, a good straight man is hard to find. 

Abbotts's exceptional timing and tyrannical love taps acted as the engineers of Lou's out of control mug train. As a circus kid, Bud learned early all about entertaining the crowd, and he transitioned easily to both performing and producing burlesque and vaudeville shows before he teamed up with his serendipitous partner on the silver screen to made history. Stylish, loud, and annoyed with the charlatans surrounding him, Bud represented the exaggeration of the everyman-- just trying to stay sane in a world filled with fools. Along with his delightful play on words ("Who's on first"), Bud's comic reactions to Lou's mistakes, guffaws, and random acts of crazy were true tokens of his brilliantly instinctual approach to his craft. Lou stepping into a bucket in Hold that Ghost is funny, but Bud putting his ashamed face in his hand is funnier. 

The Abbott & Costello duo brought merriment and mayhem to cinema in One Night in the Tropics, but it was Buck Privates that would put the real fire under their career, and their monster movies would make them legendary. Over the years, the duo "met" Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, the Murderer, the Invisible Man, etc, and as such, worked consistently through the mid-fifties. As times changed, their style of comedy began to stale. In addition, Bud and Lou's hot and cold relationship reached a boiling point that ended their partnership. Initially, Lou had insisted that Bud receive the bulk end of a 60/40 cut; later this was altered to 50/50. Then, Lou wanted the marquee to read "Costello and Abbott." In addition, Bud's epilepsy, only exacerbated by his enthusiastic drinking, started effecting his life and livelihood. His gambling debts would result in him having to sell his properties and start from scratch, which he tried to do with a new partner, Candy Candido. But, his failing health would impede his hoped for comeback. He openly admitted that there would never be anyone as good with him as Lou. 

In contrast to his testy character, Bud was a fun-loving, life of the party fellow who spent a little too much of his juice trying to outrun his demons. He succumbed to prostate cancer after suffering at least two strokes at the age of 78. However, as a performer, he knew that with or without him, "the show must go on."


  1. Love your post on Bud Abbott, who's unjustly underrated as a straight man. I'm amazed by his contradictory qualities, in that his timing is always dead on, but he comes across as spontaneous and relaxed. He could also be funny on his own; one of my favorite performances of his is in "The Time of Their Lives," in which he co-stars with Lou but does not do the usual routines with him (they're really separate performers in that film).

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. We seem to be on the same page about this man's comic gifts. The Time of Their Lives has been on my list for awhile and I haven't gotten around to it, but based on your praise I will bump it to the next item of business. Thanks for reading! :)

  2. Excellent summary of Bud Abbott and his importance to the act. The sketches the team performed on radio, in the movies and later on television were all honed to perfection from A&C's vaudeville and burlesque days but were performed by many different acts besides A&C.

    The writers of many of these classic sketches are generally lost to history, but fortunately through Abbott and Costello they are preserved forever on film.

    By the way - spending lots of time reading through the wonderful stories on you site.

    1. Thank you so much! I was always partial to Bud growing up. He had such style in what he did that it seemed like Lou had to overdo his own mugging albeit hilarious comedy to outshine him! I sincerely appreciate your comments and am glad you are enjoying what I have compiled so far. Have a nice weekend!