Bud Abbott

"It gets so boring at home. After all, how many reruns of Abbott & Costello movies can a guy watch on television?" -- Bud Abbott While Bud Abbott is best known for his radio, movie, and television work with Lou Costello, his career both predated and extended beyond the partnership. Abbott was born William Alexander Abbott on October 2, 1895, in Asbury Park, NJ. Abbott grew up in a show business family; both of his parents worked for Barnum & Bailey Circus. Abbott eventually dropped out of school, first working at Coney Island and then working the box office of the Casino Theatre in Brooklyn. Abbott married Jenny May Pratt (her stage name was Betty Smith) in 1918, and the two worked together in a vaudeville show called Broadway Flashes and toured with the Gus Sun Vaudeville Circuit.

In 1924 Abbott began playing the straight man in a comic act with Smith. He quickly gained a reputation for the quality of his work, and teamed with a number of other comics including Harry Steppe and Harry Evanson. During the 1930s, Abbott also worked the Minsky's Burlesque circuit.

During the 1930s Abbott met Lou Costello, and after working together occasionally, the two formed a team in 1936 and eventually signed with the William Morris Agency. Over the next four years, the comic duo worked in vaudeville, minstrel shows, and movie houses. Beginning in 1938, Abbott & Costello made radio appearances on The Kate Smith Hour and by 1940 were cast in supporting roles in One Night in the Tropics. Between 1940 and 1956, the comic duo appeared in 36 films including Buck Privates, Abbot and Costello Go to Mars, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The team also hosted their own radio program on NBC and later ABC during the 1940s.

After years of working together, Abbott and Costello's working relationship became strained, and the two parted company in July 1957. Speaking of the duo's strained relationship, Abbott quipped, "You never heard of a comedy team that didn't fight, did you?" The same year, Abbott experienced financial difficulties due to tax problems, eventually leaving him bankrupt.

Abbott formed a new comedic duo with Candy Candido in 1960. While the duo received a positive critical response, Abbott nonetheless decided to leave the business. "No one," he noted, "could ever live up to Lou." In 1961 he made an appearance on a General Electric Theater episode, "The Joke's on Me." Later, he also provided the voice for his own character in Hannah-Barbera's cartoon version of Abbott & Costello. Because of his work in film, radio, and television, Abbott has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Abbott and Betty Smith had two adopted children, Bud, Jr., and Vickie. Abbott died of cancer on April 24, 1974, at the age of 78 in Woodland Hills, CA. He and Smith, at the time of his death, had been married 55 years. Abbott was cremated and his ashes were spread in the Pacific Ocean. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

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