1 9 5 2 – 1 9 5 4 (USA)
52 x 30 minute episodes
Stage and screen comedians Bud Abbott (born William Abbott) and Lou Costello (born Louis Francis Cristillo) brought their routines to television in a half-hour situation comedy series that was first released in 1952.
The Abbott and Costello Show revived many of the duo’s most successful skits, such as the celebrated “who’s on first?” and “moving candle” routines, that had already made them famous on radio and in films.
Co-starring with Bud and Lou on the show was blonde screen beauty Hillary Brooke, who played herself as the boys’ neighbour. Hillary’s sophisticated demeanour and classy English accent made her a perfect foil for the team’s zany, low-comic style.
Also appearing as regulars on the show were the tall, full-figured actress Joan Shawlee, the short, bald comedian Bobby Barbar, Costello’s real-life brother-in-law Joe Kirk (as Mr Bacciagalupe), Gordon Jones (as Mike Kelly the cop), Joe Besser (as mischief-maker Stinky Jones), comedians Sid Fields and Milt Bronson, and Bud and Lou’s pet chimp, Bingo (who dresses like Lou in checkered jacket and grey hat).
Filmed at the Hal Roach lot in Hollywood where Laurel and Hardy had created their masterpieces 20 years earlier, the series depicted Abbott and Costello as out-of-work and down-at-heel actors living together in a Los Angeles apartment house called The Fields Rooming House (at 214 Brookline Avenue in Hollywood), run by their irritable, cigar-chewing landlord, played by Sid Fields.
The rules of the rooming house are quite strict: No cooking cabbage in the apartment; No door slamming; No loud radio playing after 9:30; No pets; No babies.
Bud frequently exclaims, “We’ve got to raise some money” as he and Lou are always behind in their seven dollar a week rent and finding work becomes a priority. When they can’t find work, they sell what little valuables they have at Hock Shop Harry’s.
Bud and Lou did have several jobs throughout the series run. These mostly one-day employment opportunities included being waiters at Brodie’s Sea Food Restaurant; wallpaper hangers; pest exterminators; pet store owners; delivery boys for the Susquehanna Hat Company on Fluegel Street and soda jerks.
Bud and Lou also tried their hand at becoming cops by attending police rookie school.
While Sidney Fields was primarily the landlord, he also played a number of relatives who were supposedly
top men in their fields (such as Professor Melonhead the judo expert, Lawyer Claude Melonhead, and Judge Melonhead).
Many of the regular cast members left the show after the 26th episode when the show began to feature more structured situation comedies after exhausting most of their vaudeville sketch material and pretty much every worthwhile routine from their 38 movies.
Even though only 52 episodes were ever made, the show stayed on the air in the US for over 50 years in almost constant re-runs.
The Abbott and Costello partnership broke up in 1956, reputedly on amicable terms. Two years later, however, Abbott sued Costello, alleging that he was being denied his share of the money ($222,666) made from the TV series.
In 1967, an animated Hanna-Barbera series – The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show – appeared on television, with Abbott providing his own voice. Unfortunately, Lou Costello had passed away seven years before the cartoon series was released so his voice was provided by Stan Irwin.
Sidney Fields (Landlord)
Mike The Cop (Mike Kelly)