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Bud Abbott Overview:

Legendary actor, Bud Abbott, was born William Alexander Abbott on Oct 2, 1895 in Asbury Park, NJ. Abbott died at the age of 78 on Apr 24, 1974 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles and was cremated and his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

Early Life

Bud Abbot was born William Alexander Abbott on October 2nd, 1895 in Ashbury Park, New Jersey and seemed destined for show business since birth. Both of his parents worked for Barnum and Bailey Circus. His mother, Rae, was a bareback rider while his father, Harry, worked as a publicist and booking agent. With a childhood that involved clowns, jugglers, and the three-ringed fairy-tale known as the circus, it should come as no surprise that Abbott was more interested performing than academics and dropped out of school at the age of 10 to work at Coney Island. His father, who worked at the Columbia Burlesque Wheel, was able to find Abbott a job at a local theater office in Brooklyn. He continued to work quietly for the next five years until something very strange happened. At the age of 15, Abbott's life took a turn for the odd when he was drugged and shipped off to sea on Norway-bound ship. Although the details surrounding the adventure are cloudy, he eventually found his way home to the states, ending up in Detroit of all places.

Early Career

Now with a bit more street wisdom in his arsenal of skills, Abbott began working at a Detroit burlesque club, booking events. It was there that Abbot met a burlesque dancer and comedienne named Jenny Mae Pratt. The two would fall deeply in love and be married in 1918. Their marriage lasted over 50 years, until Abbott's death in 1974. After Bud and Jenny married, the duo began touring as comedic team and produced the traveling vaudeville tab-show Broadway Flashes with Abbott eventually falling in to the role of the straight man, the very role that would eventually launch him into fame.  By the 1920s he began working at the National Theater in Detroit, first as the treasurer but eventually as manager. During this time his reputation as a performer began to grow, particularly his skills as a straight man. He soon found himself playing it straight next to veteran comedians such as Harry Steepe and Harry Evanson. By the end of the decade, the Abbott's decided to relocate the New York City, where Bud was able to find fast work as the cashier at the Casino Theater in Brooklyn. Abbott also continued to perform, working to improve his straight man act at series of small burlesque theaters.

Abbott and Costello

Like all the great "origins of legends" story, the meeting of Abbott and Costello is most likely colored with hues of embellishment. However, the most recognized version of their meeting states that in the early 1930s. According to legend, a young comedian named Lou Costello was in dire need of straight man after his own became ill. Because Abbot happened to be working at the box-office that evening, he happily volunteered to play the part. The pair showed immediate chemistry, made evident by the roaring laughter of their audience. They performed together several more times, each with each engagement become as successful as the last. In 1936 the comedy team of Abbott and Costello was officially born. The two easily fell into their roles with the portly Costello acting as the loveable but dim-witted funnyman and Abbott as the straight shooting sideman. The duo began to travel, performing their act various burlesque and vaudeville theaters and forging their reputation along the way. Soon enough they were courted by a plethora of talent agencies before deciding to sign with the William Morris Agency. This lead their 1938 appearance on The Kate Smith Show, which helped the comedy duo gain some national attention. The next year they made their Broadway debut in the musical revue Streets of Paris. Now with the Broadway and National Radio under their belt, it only makes sense that Abbott and Costello would take the next step in the evolution of their entertainment careers: movies.

Hollywood

After their stellar performance in the Street of Paris, Abbot and Costello signed a two-picture deal with Universal Studios. The first picture the studio cast the pair in was the 1940 comedy One Night in the Tropics. Although the duo was cast in a supporting role, they nonetheless stole the show with their rendition of the now famed "Whose on First?" retinue first made famous in their radio-days. The film was a hit with more than just a little credit belonging to Universals newest comedy duo. They pair quickly renegotiated their contract to a longer-term engagement and began work on their second film. This time Abbott and Costello were first billed in the pre-war boot camp comedy Buck Privates. The film was major hit and launched Abbott and Costello into stardom. The film's famous drill routine is said to have been used by the Japanese Empire was propaganda during World War II as an example of the ineptitude of the Unite States military.

Stardom

After the release of Buck Privates in 1941, Abbott and Costello quickly shot to stardom. They immediately began working on their next films, finishing out the year with three more films: In the Navy, Hold That Ghost, and Keep 'Em Flying. The next year they maintained their busy work schedule, starring in three more films, Ride 'Em Cowboy, Rio Rita, and Who Done It?. That year they also began work on their radio series, aptly titled The Abbott and Costello Show that would ultimately air almost a decade. With a hit radio show and hit film every few months, by the end of 1942 Abbott and Costello had become the number one box-office draw in the country and would remain a heavy financial contender for the next ten years.

By World War II, Abbott and Costello where the highest paid actors in the states. In an excellent move made by their manager, the duo got a percentage of every profited film they duo, acting in 36 films all-together. Not only where the pair popular on screen, but there stage shows still drove huge numbers. To aid in the war effort, Abbott and Costello put their stardom to use and embarked on a countrywide tour selling war bonds. The pair made tens of millions of the United States Military. During this time Abbott and Costello released hits like In Society, Lost in a Harem and The Naughty Nineties. It was the latter film that the duo filmed the entirety of the" Who's on First" routine, which was only showed only an abridged version in their film debut.

Decline

After World War Two, the pair remained at the top of the box-office heap with films like Here Come the Co-eds, Buck Privates Come Home, and The Noose Hangs High. Although the team was still churning out successful films by the late 1940s, the rest of Universal Studios was having a bit a crisis. To gain more revenue, the studios decided to combine their two biggest assets: Abbott and Costello and Monster movies. So, with this cross-genre idea in mind the Studio green-lit Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The gimmick work well as the film was a massive commercial success. Although the pair still produced non-horror films such as Mexican Hayride and Africa Screams, Universal quickly capitalized on the success of their first genre bender, Had Abbott and Costello meeting Boris Karloff in 1949, the Invisible Man in 1951, Captain Kidd in 1952 and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1953. Although the gimmick originally worked, people soon caught on  to the formula, finding it more and more stale as each film was released. Soon, the duo decided to take more control of their material by working on the growing medium of television, working on The Abbott and Costello show from 1952-1954. However, by the mid-1950s the pair was losing popularity with the people and patience with each other. The pair released their final film in 1956 with the comedy Dance with Me, Henry. The next year, the two formally disbanded.

Thanks to trouble with the IRS, Abbott and Costello both owed the government millions in back taxes and were forced to sell all their assets, including their films. In 1960, after Costello's death, Abbott began to perform again with a new partner, Candy Candido. Although the pair were met with good reviews, Abbott simply couldn't work without Costello and quickly ended the partnership. He made his final screen appearance as himself, providing his voice for the Hanna-Barbara cartoon series The Abbott and Costello Show in 1967. During this time, Abbott suffered a series of strokes that forced him retire. He was later diagnosed with cancer. Bud Abbott died on April 24th, 1974. He was 78 years old. 

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).

HONORS and AWARDS:

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He was honored with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the categories of Motion Pictures, Radio and Television. Bud Abbott's handprints and footprints were 'set in stone' at Grauman's Chinese Theater during imprint ceremony #61 on Dec 8, 1941. In addition, Abbott was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame and was immortalized on a US postal stamp in 1991. Abbott was never nominated for an Academy Award.

BlogHub Articles:

Abbott e Costello às voltas com fantasmas / and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

By Lê on Sep 23, 2015 From Critica Retro

Abbott e Costello às voltas com fantasmas / and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) Os tempos mudam, as décadas passam, o cinema se modifica, mas há algo que nunca para de provocar riso: a comédia física. Desde os primórdios do cinema, ela estava lá. Max Linder, Mabel Normand, ... Read full article


Who did Abbott and Costello Meet?

By minooallen on Aug 28, 2014 From Classic Movie Hub Blog

Who did Abbott and Costello Meet? No, it’s not a trick question. And believe it or not it has nothing to do with baseball. Starting in 1948, the comedy team of Abbott and Costello began to take their proven comedic formula in an interesting direction when the pair decided to ‘meet’... Read full article


The Chaney Blogathon: and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein

By Annmarie Gatti on Nov 18, 2013 From Classic Movie Hub Blog

“You don’t understand. Every night when the moon is full, I turn into a wolf.” -Larry Talbot “You and twenty million other guys.” -Wilbur Grey and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) — the perfect mix of horror, pathos, intrigue and downright sillines... Read full article


See all articles

Bud Abbott Quotes:

Slicker Smith: Throw your chest out! Go on! Throw your chest out!
Herbie Brown: I'm not through with it yet!
Slicker Smith: Quiet!


Lou Francis: [about graduating] This is the happiest day of my life, how did I ever graduate?
Bud Alexander: [whispering] I slipped the guy twenty bucks. Now keep quiet.


Buzz Johnson: [to Stanley] I'm going to make a hero out of you whether you like it or not.


read more quotes from Bud Abbott...



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Grauman's Imprints

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Bud Abbott on the
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Bud Abbott Facts
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.

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.

Father of actor Bud Abbott Jr.

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Radio Hall of Fame

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