Abbott and Costello, one of the most popular comedy duos in American history, brought laughter to millions of people with their slapstick routines and witty wordplay. However, their partnership was not without its share of conflicts, and one incident in particular caused a permanent rift between the two men.
In 1956, Abbott and Costello appeared on a live television broadcast of The Steve Allen Show. During the show, Allen asked Costello about a recent hunting trip he had taken, and Costello began telling a story about a bear that he had encountered. However, before he could finish the story, Abbott interrupted him and asked him to clarify whether the bear was male or female.
This question may not seem like a big deal, but it was the last straw for Costello, who had long felt that Abbott was constantly interrupting him and stealing the spotlight. Costello was so angry that he stormed off the set, leaving Abbott to finish the show alone.
The incident was a shock to their fans, who had always seen them as a united front. But behind the scenes, tensions had been simmering for years. Costello felt that Abbott was controlling and domineering, and resented him for taking credit for their success. Abbott, on the other hand, felt that Costello was difficult to work with and had become lazy and unreliable.
After the incident on The Steve Allen Show, Abbott and Costello stopped speaking to each other. They continued to perform together for a few more years, but their routines lacked the chemistry and energy that had made them famous. In 1957, they announced that they would be going their separate ways, with Abbott focusing on producing and directing and Costello pursuing a solo career.
Sadly, Costello’s solo career was short-lived. He was diagnosed with heart disease in 1959 and died March 3 of the same year, in East Los Angeles, California, at the age of 52. Abbott was devastated by his friend’s death, and it is said that he never fully recovered from the loss.
At the time of his death, Costello was working on a new television series, “The Lou Costello Show,” which was later canceled. Costello left behind a wife, Anne Battler, and four children. After his death, Anne received $1 million in life insurance, and the rights to the “Abbott and Costello” name and characters were divided equally between her and Bud Abbott.
Bud Abbott passed away on April 24, 1974, in Woodland Hills, California, at the age of 78. Following his death, his estate was valued at $1 million, which was primarily from his investments in real estate.
Despite the acrimony that marked the end of their partnership, Abbott and Costello remain beloved by fans to this day. Their films, including classics like “Who’s on First?” and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” continue to be popular with audiences of all ages. And while their partnership may have ended on a sour note, it is clear that they made an indelible mark on the world of comedy.
While Abbott and Costello may not be alive, their legacy lives on through their timeless comedy routines and films that continue to entertain audiences to this day. Their famous “Who’s on First?” routine is still considered one of the greatest comedy skits of all time and has been referenced in popular culture numerous times. The duo’s films, including “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and “Buck Privates,” are still enjoyed by audiences and are regarded as classics of the comedy genre.