Bud Abbott and Lou Costello made up one of the most popular comedic duos of Hollywood’s Golden Age, but the two stars never really liked each other. In fact, the two comedic performers hated each other so much that their distaste for each other inevitably led to them breaking up in 1957. Although the two never really got along, actor Errol Flynn claimed that a prank he pulled caused the two to call it quits for good. This prank may have also had some underlying themes regarding Lou Costello’s apparent porn obsession. Join Facts Verse as we explore the prank that made Abbott and Costello never speak again.
Abbott and Costello Defined 1940s Comedy
When it came to comedy in the 1940s, there were few names that were quite as ubiquitous as Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Together, the two made up the comedic duo of Abbott and Costello. They began working together in the 1930s, though would break up their working relationship by the end of the 1950s. Over the course of these two decades, the two became superstars that could seen and heard in many different mediums. Each performer had a background in vaudeville, though they would initially rise to prominence while working together as radio performers. Following this, the two would become superstars on the cinema screen.
It was in the year 1935 that Bud Abbott and Lou Costello first started up their professional partnership. At the time, Bud Abbott was working with another comedic partner who ended up getting sick. When Bud learned that his comedic partner wasn’t going to be able to perform with him. And he had to find a replacement fast. Bud was already aware of Lou, as both were somewhat notable burlesque comedians. Bud asked Lou to come and be his new partner. And the pair ended up having an incredible amount of chemistry. The two were essentially polar opposites when it came to their shapes and sizes. With Bud Abbott being tall and thin and Lou Costello being short and fat. Early on, the duo realized that Bud should be the straight man to Lou’s slapstick abuse.
Abbott and Costello’s initial working relationship was entirely on the stage. Though it was when the duo moved to radio in the late 1930s that they really began taking the world by storm. Eventually, the duo’s radio show became so popular that they were given the opportunity to make a film together. Given that a big part of the appeal of Abbott and Costello’s comedy came from both the duo’s differing sizes and their physical slapstick comedy. Audiences that had come to love the pair thanks to their radio appearances grew even more enamored with them once they transitioned to the screen.
Abbott and Costello’s Feature Film Debut
The very first film to feature Abbott and Costello was 1940’s One Night in the Tropics. It which also served as the cinematic debut of the duo’s iconic “Who’s on First?” routine. Bud and Lou had been honing the routine for years. As they had first begun performing it back during their days on the burlesque circuit. By the time the duo got the chance to perform it on the big screen, they had the routine down to a tee. The pair’s performance in their first feature film made them bigger stars than ever before. And they would maintain that immense amount of stardom over the course of the ensuing decade. Sadly, the 1940s would be the last decade that the duo would see to the end, with them disbanding in the 1950s.
Even after all that Abbott and Costello would do afterward, their “Who’s on First?” routine is the thing that the duo is best known for. The comedic routine has become so popular that it has arguably eclipsed the duo itself in terms of cultural ubiquity. The duo weren’t afraid to cash in on the success of the routin. And went on to do the routine verbatim in another film. The second film to feature Abbott and Costello doing their “Who’s on First?” routine was The Naughty Nineties, which was released in 1945. That year was the ten-year anniversary of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s working relationship. And they only had about another decade left in them before their distaste for each other grew too strong.
Though Abbott and Costello were on the top of the world during the 1940s. Things took a slightly sour turn for the duo in several ways entering into the 1950s. Both performers had started to experience a significant amount of burnout from performing. Whether it was because they were sick of performing the same old slapstick routines or because they were sick of being around each other.
More than anything, it seems that it was Bud and Lou’s growing distaste for each other that caused them to a put an end to their time as a duo. Though some have attributed the pair’s 1957 breakup to more specific circumstances. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Bud and Lou’s First Falling Out
Though Bud Abbott and Lou Costello didn’t end their professional relationship for good until 1957. And that wasn’t the first time that the two members of the beloved comedic duo Abbott and Costello needed to take a break from each other. Over a decade previously, in 1945, the duo had a falling out that some claim planted the seeds of the pair breaking up many years later. This incident involved Bud hiring a maid that had previously worked for Lou. For whatever reason, Lou incredibly upset about Bud hiring someone that had previously been an employee of his own, and it started a war between the two. Lou went on to disparage his comedic partner in the press as a result of this falling out. And with Lou claiming that Bud was a drunk.
Bud and Lou stopped being on speaking terms for a period of time after this incident involving Lou’s ex-maid. Though they eventually managed to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make things work as a comedic duo. A big part of this came from the fact that they were both still under contract with the studio. And they technically forced to continue working together for the time being. However, many think that the pair’s relationship never fully recovered from this incident. And some have even gone so far as to blame this incident for the pair’s later official breakup in 1957.
Bud and Lou’s Final Falling Out
While the maid incident may have planted the seeds of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello calling it quits on their professional relationship over a decade later. Actor Errol Flynn claimed that he was actually the one who was directly responsible for the duo’s 1957 breakup. According to Errol, it was a prank that he played on the comedic performers in front of their families that caused the fight that would go on to end their working relationship. This prank involved Errol purposefully switching up some tapes at a party.
When it came time to play whatever innocent tape the attendees were expecting, everyone at the party instead ended up being forced to view hardcore pornography! Unaware that it was Errol who had caused the mix-up intentionally, Bud and Lou blamed each other for it. They become so furious with each other that they once again stopped being on speaking terms. However, this time, they were never on speaking terms again!
Lou Costello Criminally Obsessed with Porn
Errol’s account of the incident that supposedly caused Bud Abbott and Lou Costello to end their professional relationship in 1957 has never substantiated. But the actor was adamant that was how things went down! It’s uncertain why things got so heated between the comedic performers after this prank. But some other facts may put this incident, as well as the maid incident, in a slightly different context.
According to FBI documents that were released in 2012, J. Edgar Hoover was incredibly interested in Lou Costello’s apparent porn obsession. The FBI received word that Lou had an exceptionally large and private collection of porn films. Some of which may not have been entirely illegal. An informant alleged that Lou had upwards of 1,500 pornographic films that he would showcase to interested parties via a projector in his house. Other performers that said to have had significant porn collections include Red Skelton and George Raft, though no one’s was bigger than Lou’s. If Lou Costello really had an unhealthy porn obsession, this may explain some of his other behaviors.
For one thing, Lou’s massive porn collection may explain why the performer was so angry when his comedic partner decided to hire a maid that used to work for him. Perhaps Lou feared that the maid had become privy to information that she was going to share with Bud. Lou’s porn obsession also casts Errol Flynn’s prank in a different light. If Lou liked to bring friends over to watch his private collection of porn films. Perhaps Errol’s prank was a knowing joke about this that most people wouldn’t have understood. This may also explain why Bud and Lou got so angry as a result of the prank. Perhaps Lou feared that Bud was trying to expose his porn fetish. And this may have driven him over the edge.
It remains uncertain whether or not Bud Abbott and Lou Costello ever found out that it was Errol Flynn who had cause the tape mix-up. If that mix-up is really what caused the pair to breakup. Bud and Lou’s feud was far from the only personal problems that each of them suffered from. As Lou had suggested by calling Bud a drunk, Bud suffered from alcoholism. He was also epileptic. Meanwhile, Lou suffered frequently from rheumatic fever. Lou Costello died in 1959 from cancer, only two years after the breakup. Many years later, in 1974, Bud Abbott passed away from cancer.
Although Bud Abbott and Lou Costello made up the most popular comedic duo of the 1940s. The two actors couldn’t stand each other in real life. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Lou Costello had a major porn obsession. And that an FBI informant claimed the comedic star and member of beloved duo Abbott and Costello had a private collection of over 1,5000 porn films that he would show his guests? As always, like this video to show your support. And subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!