Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

First Abbott, Costello Film Debuted 75 Years Ago

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

First Abbott, Costello Film Debuted 75 Years Ago

Article excerpt

Fans of legendary comic duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello have much to commemorate this year.

Seventy-five years ago, the pair debuted on film for Universal's "One Night in the Tropics." They would go on to make almost 30 films for the studio, including "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy," the last of their "meet the monster" series, which was released 60 years ago this year.

Chris Costello was only 11 when her dad died in 1959. Nine months later, her brokenhearted mother passed away.

"Even though I was only a child when I knew him, the memories of our time together are vivid," Chris said from Los Angeles. "My father was famous, but when he walked in the house at night he was just my dad, not Lou Costello. No, he didn't do pratfalls around the home, but when he was with kids, the funnyman could come out."

With both parents dead at such an early age, it wasn't until Chris did research for her 1982 book, "Lou's on First," that she began to learn much more about her dad and his partner.

"I interviewed over 100 people who knew them," she said.

Honed over years in early burlesque, Abbott and Costello's most famous routine, "Who's on First?," was performed in condensed form in their first film. It later appeared in "The Naughty Nineties" (1945) as well as their TV show.

Despite being around "forever," the routine isn't public domain.

"Universal owns the rights to images from their movies, but the Costello and Abbott families jointly own that routine," Chris said. "We have a website for fans with all our licensed products -- abbottandcostello -- and a license is needed to perform that routine. However, the license is free for anything dealing with children, for example, schools or universities, because that's what dad would have wanted."

Despite problems with the IRS late in life, Lou Costello was extremely generous and not just with friends or family. …

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