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Lou Costello Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (9) | Trivia (37) | Personal Quotes (2) | Salary (10)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 6 March 1906Paterson, New Jersey, USA
Date of Death 3 March 1959East Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameLouis Francis Cristillo
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Lou Costello was born Louis Francis Cristillo in Paterson, New Jersey, to Helen (Rege) and Sebastiano Cristillo. His father was from Calabria, Italy, and his mother was an American of Italian, French, and Irish ancestry. Raised in Paterson, Costello dropped out of high school and headed west to break into the movies. He got a job as a carpenter at MGM and Warners. He went from there to stuntman and then to vaudeville as a comic. In 1931, while working in Brooklyn, his straight man became ill and the theater cashier, Bud Abbott, filled in for him. The two formed their famous comedy team and, through the 1930s, they worked burlesque, minstrel shows, vaudeville and movie houses. In 1938 they got national exposure through the Kate Smith Hour radio show, and signed with Universal Pictures the next year. They debuted in One Night in the Tropics (1940). Their scene-stealing performances in that film landed them their own picture the next year, Buck Privates (1941), with The Andrews Sisters. It was a runaway hit, grossing what was then a company record $10 million on a $180,000 budget. In 1942 they topped a poll of Hollywood stars. They had their own radio show (ABC, 1941-46, NBC, 1946-49) and TV show (The Abbott and Costello Show (1952)). After the war their movies shifted formula to one in which they met various monsters or found themselves in exotic locations. The team split up in 1957, with both winding up completely out of money after troubles with the Internal Revenue Service. After that Lou appeared in a few television shows and the movie The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959), released a few months after he died.

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

Spouse (1)

Anne Battler (30 January 1934 - 3 March 1959) (his death) (4 children)

Trade Mark (9)

Mentioned his hometown of Paterson, New Jersey, in virtually every episode of his TV show and in many of his films.
Would always yell "Hey Abbott!"
Bowler hat
Master of early pratfall techniques
His girth
One of his most frequent gestures was to place a fist on his cheek when frustrated occasionally he would smack his fist away with his other hand
Half of his tie reached down below his belt
Plaid jacket that was always unbuttoned
Jersey accent

Trivia (37)

Founded the Television Corporation of America production company which produced The Abbott and Costello Show (1952) and I'm the Law (1953).
November 1943: His only son, Lou Costello Jr., drowned in the swimming pool of the family home just days before his first birthday. Lou never got over it, blaming his wife -- who was home at the time and didn't see the boy wander out into the back yard and fall into the pool -- for the tragedy. Although they didn't divorce -- they were both Catholics, for whom divorce at the time was unthinkable -- it put a permanent damper on their marriage.
Brother of actor Pat Costello.
Brother-in-law of actor Joe Kirk.
Son of associate producer Sebastian Cristillo.
He had a habit of taking home any prop or furniture item from a set that took his fancy. During filming of Hit the Ice (1943), director Charles Lamont went back to reshoot some scenes that took place at an ice-skating rink only to discover that all the wrought-iron patio furniture at the rink was gone--Costello took it home with him when he finished shooting the scene the previous day. An arrangement was worked out whereby Costello brought back the furniture, the scene was reshot, and then Costello took the furniture back home with him.
Pictured on one of five 29¢ US commemorative postage stamps celebrating famous comedians, issued in booklet form 29 August 1991. He is shown with partner Bud Abbott. 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.
He and Bud Abbott are the only two non-sportsmen honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, USA, for their "Who's On First" routine. However, they are not members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1994: A life-size bronze statue of Costello holding a bat and wearing his trademark derby was placed in a downtown park in his hometown of Paterson, NJ.
He and Bud Abbott are known in Italy as "Gianni and Pinotto", Abbott being Gianni and Costello being Pinotto.
He had only one starring role in a feature film without Bud Abbott, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959). He died before it was released.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith; pg. 1-3. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Radio catchphrase: "I'm a bad boy."
1943: He was stricken with rheumatic fever, which halted the production of any new Abbott and Costello features for over a year until Lou fully recuperated. The disease, which normally strikes children, damaged his heart and led to the heart attack that ultimately killed him at such a young age.
He and Bud Abbott were so popular that there was an "Abbott and Costello" comic book that was published for about 10 years until their partnership ended in 1956.
1959: He was set to star in the comedy series "It Pays to Be Ignorant", but died before production began.
Was to have starred in a film based on the life of former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. The project was still in the talking stages at the time of his death.
Grandfather of Marki Costello.
He and partner Bud Abbott made their debut as a comedy team in One Night in the Tropics (1940), although Costello had appeared in several silent films in the late 1920s as a stuntman and extra.
Along with partner Bud Abbott performed the "Who's on first" routine for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
September 2003: Montclair State University in New Jersey dedicated a building in its new residence hall complex as "Abbott and Costello Center", after Lou and his partner Bud Abbott.
Costello was a great admirer of Charles Chaplin. He claimed to have seen Shoulder Arms (1918) 30 times and The Gold Rush (1925) 16 times, and attempted - without luck - to buy the screen rights to The Kid (1921) from Chaplin.
Mentioned his hometown of Paterson, New Jersey, at least once in every one of his films.
After the death of his son, Lou Costello Jr., he performed "Who's On First" routine as normal, but with tears streaming down his face as he did so.
As an amateur boxer in Paterson, New Jersey, Costello--who used a fake name because he didn't want his mother to find out what he was doing--won 32 straight fights before being knocked out. The loss, combined with the fact that his mother finally found out what he was doing, ended his boxing career.
He and Bud Abbott are both nominees for the inaugural 2007 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.
He had always suspected Universal Pictures of cheating him and partner Bud Abbott out of some of the profits of their pictures, but he could never prove it (that was one reason he didn't feel guilty about taking home expensive props from the sets of films he was shooting at Universal). One day his manager stopped into a photo supply store in Hollywood to buy some film for his camera and noticed a display that was selling 8mm film clips from films featuring Abbott & Costello that he had never heard of. Upon further investigation, he discovered that Universal was lifting scenes from A&C's early films, retitling them, selling them for the then burgeoning home 8mm market and not paying Abbott & Costello anything, which was in clear violation of its contracts with them. The team sued Universal and received a hefty out-of-court settlement.
Interred at Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA (Main Mausoleum, Block 354, Crypt B-1).
He and partner Bud Abbott were inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2008 for their services and contributions to arts and entertainment.
He was awarded 3 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 6438 Hollywood Boulevard, for Radio at 6780 Hollywood Boulevard, and for Television at 6276 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
At the beginning of their career he insisted that any joint earnings with Bud Abbott were split 60-40 in Abbott's favor because of Bud's skill as a straight man.
He learned of son Lou Costello Jr.'s death in a swimming-pool accident just moments before going on the air to do his radio show with Bud Abbott. However, being the old-school professional who believed that "the show must go on", he went right out and did the show--including their famous "Who's on First" routine-- without a hitch. Once they were finished, Costello went over in a corner and passed out.
He invented the very first commercial automatic ice machine. He planned to market it but lost money on the deal.
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. If you listen carefully, you can hear laughter in the background. It was the crew, whom the director could not get to stop laughing during repeated takes of the routine. He finally gave up, shot the scene in one take and let the laughter stay in, hoping no one would notice it.
His father was of Italian descent. His maternal grandfather was of half Italian and half French ancestry, and his maternal grandmother was of Irish descent.

Personal Quotes (2)

[his last words] I think I'll be more comfortable.
Comics are a dime a dozen - good straight men are hard to find!

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 +%
Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951) $75,000
The Abbott and Costello Show (1952) $15,000 /episode
Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952) $250,000

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