They were some of the top salesmen of war bonds in the 1940s. No wonder since they were HUGE box office attractions — not only Hollywood’s No. 1 in 1942, but Number 3 in 1941, 1943, 1948 and 1949. In 1951, the duo ranked No. 4.
After logging successful appearances in vaudeville and radio, Universal decided to take a chance in 1940, and signed the duo to a mere two-picture deal. It may have been the wisest move the studio front office made that decade. By 1955, however, Abbott and Costello wore out their studio welcome, and left in a contract dispute. IRS problems soon ensued.
By then the two had their hand an footprints cemented in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and had scored a spectacular success merging their broad comedy style with another Universal staple — horror. 1948’s Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein jumpstarted a slightly flagging career (with assists from Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr.)
On a personal level, things sometimes did not go smooothly. Costello was plagued by health problems, taking months at a time to recover from bouts of rheumatic fever, and mourning the loss of his infant son Lou Jr., who accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool.
Constello died just shy of his 53rd birthday in 1959. Abbott lived on to age 78, passing in 1974, and professionally missing his rotund partner to the end.
Ok, let’s get to our Quiz questions. As usual, to review the questions just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: Actually, the premise of this question is true while at the same time factually false. Costello never boxed professionally but he was a semi-decent amateur pugilist for a time before his mother persuaded him to consider show business.
2) Answer: b) False. (See first sentence of our introduction above.)
3) Answer: Abbott and Costello was most fondly remembered by (d) Jerry Seinfeld, an avid fan who incorporated the duo’s name and antics in his hit television series. Remember 1994’s Abbott and Costello Meet Jerry Seinfeld?
4) Answer: After Costello’s death, Abbott tried in the early Sixties to restart his career by teaming up as straight man to Candy Candido, an actor-comic who is all but forgotten today (he died in 1999 at age 85). It didn’t work out. Bud realized there was no replacing Lou Costello.
5) Answer: b) False. As indicated in our introduction, the duo often shared a volatile personal relationship not helped by what was widely viewed as an emotional darkening of Costello’s personality after the death of his infant son.