Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW (Syndication, September,
1952-May 1, 1954)
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were an American
comedy duo whose partnership spanned from 1935-57. Their pairing came about on
the burlesque circuit when Abbott substituted for Costello’s regular partner after
he took ill. At the insistence of other performers and Abbott’s wife, the two
became a permanent team with Abbott playing the straight man to Costello’s
dimwitted antics. Their work spanned between radio, film and television, making
them the most popular comedy team of the 1940s and early 1950s and the
highest-paid entertainers in the world during WWII.
Their routine “Who’s on
First?”, which debuted on the radio in 1938 a month after their first broadcast,
is considered one of the greatest comedy routines of all time. When changing
tastes and overexposure reduced their popularity and their film and television
contracts expired, the two went their separate ways; with Costello dying soon
after in 1959.
But and Lou getting into antics with Mike the Cop and Sidney the landlord.
After being part of the rotating
roster of hosts for The
Colgate Comedy Hour, Abbott and Costello were given their own show. It
was loosely based on their radio show and even
shared the same title: The Abbott and Costello Show. The premise was
that Abbott and Costello were unemployed actors sharing a rooming house
apartment in Hollywood. A running gag featured Abbott constantly nagging
Costello to get a job while he himself remained happily unemployed. Unlike
typical sitcoms, the series was more of a showcase for the pair’s burlesque
routines in a manner they could control (and own, as Costello owned the show
with Abbott on salary) and put little emphasis on plot, character or
continuity. If it was funny, it was in the show. Other characters included their
landlord, Sidney Fields
(himself); their neighbor and sometimes love-interest for Costello, Hillary Brooke (herself); Mike
the cop (Gordon Jones), their
dimwitted foil and occasional rival for Hillary; Mr. Bacciagalupe (Costello’s brother-in-law
Joe Kirk), a stereotypical
Italian immigrant that held whatever job the script required; and Stinky (Joe Besser), a 40-year-old
little boy in a Little
Lord Fauntleroy suit.
Lou outside with Stinky.
Abbott and Costello Show debuted in the fall of 1952, sold into syndication
by MCA Inc. to
approximately 40 local stations across the country; meaning it was broadcast on
different days at different times in different cities. Despite airing on CBS in New York City and later NBC, the series was never carried by a national network.
The only time it received network airplay was when CBS broadcast reruns as part
of their Saturday morning schedule for the 1954 season. The original intro
featured a montage of scenes from the pair’s early Universal films and was followed by a framing
sequence with them on a stage addressing the audience (sometimes with another
cast member) at the beginning, middle and end. For the second season, Brooke,
Kirk and Besser were dropped, the intro was simplified, the stage segments removed,
and a more traditional sitcom format adopted with tighter plots at the insistence
of series director and season producer Jean Yarbrough. The series
aired in reruns through the 1990s, and again from the 2010s to the present on MeTV and sister network Decades.