American comedian Bud Abbott was the tall, bullying member of the popular comedy team Abbott and Costello. The son of circus employees, Abbott entered show business as a burlesque show producer, then took to the stage himself as straight man for a number of comedians, finally teaming with fledgling comic Lou Costello in 1936. After working in burlesque, in radio, and on Broadway, Abbott and Costello made their movie debut in One Night in the Tropics (1940). Their first starring picture was Buck Privates (1941), a box-office bonanza which catapulted the team to "top moneymaker" status for the next 15 years; in all, Abbott and Costello made 36 feature films. In 1951, they made their TV debut on Colgate Comedy Hour, and later that year starred in a widely distributed 52-week, half-hour situation comedy series, The Abbott and Costello Show. After the team broke up in 1957, Abbott retired, but was compelled to revive his career due to income tax problems. He appeared solo in a supporting role on a 1961 G.E. Theatre TV drama, then made an unsuccessful comeback attempt as straight man for comedian Candy Candido. Abbott's last performing job was providing the voice of "himself" in a series of 156 Abbott and Costello animated cartoons produced for television by Hanna-Barbera in 1966.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Parents both worked for Barnum and Bailey Circus.
- Dropped out of school and began working at Coney Island.
- At 16, was hired by his father, then working at Columbia Burlesque Wheel, to work the box office at the Casino Theater in Brooklyn.
- Produced a vaudeville show with wife Betty Smith called Broadway Flashes.
- Crossed paths with Lou Costello a number of times on the burlesque circuit and eventually teamed up with him in 1936.
- Earned first national exposure with Costello on the Kate Smith Hour radio show in 1938.
- Along with Costello, signed by Universal Studios in 1940 to his first film contract for One Night in the Tropics. The duo were not the headliner, but they stole the show with an abbreviated version of their classic bit "Who's On First?"
- Memorialized with Costello in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY. They are two of a select few non-baseball players or managers honored with the distinction.
- Was honored with three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in radio, television and film.