Monday, January 14, 2008

Abbott and Costello

These two photos of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame illustrate two interesting things about the comedy team of Abbott and Costello: they each have a separate star instead of a single star as a team, and one star was for work in radio, and the other for TV.

We may know the duo mainly from their many films together, but radio was where they made their splash. But they began in burlesque, that orphan child of the only slightly more respectable vaudeville.

They teamed together in 1936 with stage routines that clearly worked just as well on radio, where their verbal mayhem formed the mainstay of their act. By 1939, they had signed on with Universal and began their film careers. Television followed next in the 1950s, and though they split amicably in 1957, the boys became an American comedy institution, and were the first non-baseball players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, where you can still watch their famous routine, “Who’s on First?”

The day I was there, a small crowd wandering around the exhibits suddenly swarmed to watch a video display screen when they heard the familiar banter. Kids were shushed, but they didn’t need to be after a few moments as they noticed how the grownups reacted in with rapt attention and chuckles.

For more on Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, have a look at this website.

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