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Bud Abbott Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (5)  | Trivia (38)  | Personal Quotes (10)  | Salary (10)

Overview (4)

Born in Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA
Died in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (prostate cancer)
Birth NameWilliam Alexander Abbott
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Long acknowledged as one of the best "straight men" in the business, Bud Abbott was born William Alexander Abbott in Reading, Pennsylvania to Rae (Fisher) and Harry Abbott, who had both worked for the Barnum and Bailey Circus. When Bud was three his family moved to Asbury Park, New Jersey, which he later, erroneously, listed as his place of birth. He himself worked in carnivals while still a child and dropped out of school in 1909. He worked as assistant treasurer for the Casino Theater in Brooklyn, then as treasurer and/or manager of various theaters around the country. He worked as the straight man to such vaudeville and burlesque comics as Harry Steepe and Harry Evanson while managing the National Theater in Detroit. In 1931 while cashiering at the Brooklyn theater, he substituted for comic Lou Costello's ill straight-man. The two clicked almost immediately and formed their famous comedy team. Throughout the 1930s they worked burlesque, minstrel shows, vaudeville and movie houses. In 1938 they got national exposure through the Kate Smith radio show "The Kate Smith Hour", and signed with Universal Pictures the next year. They made their film debut in One Night in the Tropics (1940), and, while the team wasn't the film's stars, it made money for Universal and they got good enough notices to convince Universal to give them their own picture. Their first starring film, Buck Privates (1941), with The Andrews Sisters, grossed what was then a company-record $10 million (on a $180,000 budget) and they were on their way to stardom and a long run as the most popular comedy team in America. In 1942 they topped a poll of Hollywood stars. They had their own radio show (ABC, 1941-6, NBC, 1946-9) and TV show (The Abbott and Costello Show (1952)). After the war their careers stalled and the box-office takes for their films started slipping. However, they made a big comeback in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), which raked in huge profits and even got the team good notices from critics who normally wouldn't even review their films. The movie's success convinced Universal to embark on a series of films in which the team met various monsters or found themselves in exotic locations. Their film career eventually petered out and the team split up in 1957. Costello embarked on a series of TV appearances and even made a film, without Abbott, called The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959), but it was a flop. He received good notices after a dramatic performance in an episode of Wagon Train (1957) and was in discussion to star in a biography of famed New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, a project Costello had been trying to get off the ground for years, when he died. Both Abbott and Costello had major tax problems with the Internal Revenue Service and wound up virtually broke. Abbott started over with a new partner, Candy Candido, in the 1960s and set off on a national tour, including Las Vegas, but the act failed. In 1966 he voiced his character in a cartoon version of their television show. His health deteriorated badly in the late 1960s, he had always suffered from epilepsy, and he died in 1974.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Spouse (1)

Jenny Mae Pratt (17 September 1918 - 24 April 1974) ( his death) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (5)

Deep voice
Fedora hat
Slapping 'Lou Costello'
Often uses the "play on words" technique in order to confuse another person (examples include the "who's on first" routine and "loafing" bit)
Jacket was always buttoned

Trivia (38)

He was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.
His mother was a bareback rider for the Ringling Bothers Circus.
Pictured on one of five 29¢ US commemorative postage stamps celebrating famous comedians, issued in booklet form 29 August 1991. He is shown with his partner Lou Costello. The stamp designs were drawn by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. The other comedians honored in the set are Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; Edgar Bergen (with alter ego Charlie McCarthy); Jack Benny; and Fanny Brice.
At Lou Costello's insistance, the monies earned from the their act were split 60/40, favoring Abbott. Costello's reasoning was that "comics are a dime a dozen. Good straight men are hard to find."
Father of actor Bud Abbott Jr.
Abbott and Costello are known in Italy as "Gianni and Pinotto", Abbott being Gianni and Costello being Pinotto.
With Lou Costello, starred on ABC (1941-1946) and NBC (1946-1949) Radio's "The Abbott and Costello Show."
A lifelong epileptic, he died of prostate cancer following two strokes.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith; pg. 1-3. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
March 1959: When his former partner Lou Costello died, a nationally run news photo showed him reading a newspaper article covering his former partner's death.
He wore a front toupee for many of his early films.
1940: He made his film debut in One Night in the Tropics (1940), which was also his first film pairing with his partner Lou Costello. It wasn't Costello's film debut, however, as he had been in several movies in the late 1920s as an extra and stuntman before he teamed up with Abbott.
His sister, Olive Victoria Abbott, was also in vaudeville and lived to be 101 years old, dying on August 8, 1997.
His father, Harry, was a publicity advance man for Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Soon after former partner Lou Costello's death, the Internal Revenue Service demanded Bud pay over $750,000 in back taxes. He was forced to sell his estate in Encino, California (at a loss), as well as his 200-acre ranch. His wife sold her jewelry and furs and they relinquished their remaining share of profits from the old lucrative Universal movies. He said he'd have to start all over and joked in an interview that if each of his fans sent in a dollar he'd be out of trouble. He received hundreds of dollars in the mail.
September, 2003: Montclair State University in New Jersey dedicated a building in their new residence hall complex as "Abbott and Costello Center", after Bud and his partner Lou Costello.
He and his professional partner Lou Costello were nominated for the 2007 inaugural New Jersey Hall of Fame for their services to entertainment.
1942: His salary was $393,314, making him one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood.
Uncle of TV producer Norman Abbott.
An avid gun collector, he once owned one of Adolf Hitler's shotguns and some of Tom Mix's pearl-handled pistols.
1960: He tried to form a new duo, this time with veteran comic/instrumentalist Candy Candido. Abbott quipped during an interview that he and Candy would star in "Space Privates", a futuristic version of his and Lou Costello's Buck Privates (1941) classic. "Space Privates" never materialized and the teaming was short-lived. They weren't attracting an audience, and Abbott was forced to leave after experiencing an epileptic attack while traveling to one of their personal appearances.
He and his professional partner, Lou Costello, were elected into the 2008 New Jersey Hall of Fame for their services to arts and entertainment.
He has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio (6333 Hollywood Boulevard); Motion Pictures (1611 Vine Street) and Television (6740 Hollywood Boulevard); in Hollywood, California.
The performance of "Who's on First?" in the film The Naughty Nineties (1945) is considered the quintessential version of the routine, and the clip is enshrined in a looped video at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Uncle of Norman Abbott.
Uncle of Betty A. Griffin.
The comedy team's 1941 salary was $291,905.
His father had English and German ancestry. His maternal grandparents, Fredericka (Buxbaum) and Alexander "Aleck" Fisher, were immigrants from Germany to Maryland.
Bud's sister Olive confirmed in an interview conducted by Chris Costello for the latter's book "Lou's on First" that she was actually born in Reading, Pennsylvania, only moving to Asbury Park at the age of 2 or 3.
He married Betty Smith in 1918. They adopted two children.
Abbott and Costello are known in France as "Les Deux Nigauds" ("The Two Simpletons").
On their own dime, Abbott and Costello toured 78 cities in 34 days, with the proceeds funding Uncle Sam's war bonds and stamps. They raised $85 million for the US government. Less than 20 years later, that same government (IRS) forced Bud Abbott (Lou passed away during this travesty, but also sold off his belongings) to sell off most of his belongings to pay off a debt he couldn't afford. Around $750,000. Bud never recovered financially. Talk about gratitude.
Abbott and Costello weren't getting what they wanted from the scriptwriters at Universal so would take the scripts to Stan Laurel for the three of them to work on together.
Him and his partner Lou Costello met every single Universal monster in a movie except The Mad Ghoul, Paula 'The Jungle Woman' Dupree Rondo 'The Creeper' Hatton and the Creature from the Black Lagoon although they did meet The Creature from the Black Lagoon on their TV show.
In his personal life, Bud Abbott never wore a hairpiece.
Appeared with Lou Costello in the short films 'Fun on the Run', 'Riot on Ice', and ' No Bulls Please'.
Was a staunch Republican.
Despite being one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood during the 1940s, Abbott went bankrupt later on in his life. As a result of outstanding tax being owed and losing his home, he was reduced to begging on the streets.

Personal Quotes (10)

[Speaking after his professional break-up with partner Lou Costello] I never understood Lou.
Now, on the St. Louis team we have Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know is on third.
Once they get their hooks into you, you're a dead pigeon.
Sitting at home the way I do, I'd just love the hear from people. It'd be a great help in passing the time.
It gets so boring at home. After all, how many reruns of Abbott and Costello movies can a guy watch on television?
They disallowed this and disallowed that, and now I can't even get my head above water!
That's why so many stars are making pictures in Europe today. The tax guys are making thieves out of everybody.
You never heard of a comedy team that didn't fight, did you?
They liked me so long as the liquor flowed at my house, but I haven't seen any of them around lately.
Well, I always had a chauffeur, because I have never driven a car in my life. I still can't drive.

Salary (10)

One Night in the Tropics (1940) $17,500
Buck Privates (1941) $25,000 + 5% of profits
In the Navy (1941) $25,000 + 5% of profits
Hold That Ghost (1941) $25,000 + 5% of profits
Rio Rita (1942) $75,000
Who Done It? (1942) $25,000 + 5% of profits
In Society (1944) $40,000 +%
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951) $75,000
Jack and the Beanstalk (1952) $250,000
The Abbott and Costello Show (1952) $15,000 /episode

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