Abbott and Costello were undeniably one of the most beloved and groundbreaking comedy duos of the 20th century. They rose to fame in the 1950s as box office sensations, quickly becoming some of the biggest moneymakers in Tinsel Town. As time went on, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello would find immense success with their popular radio and television series.
As one-half of this iconic comedy team, Lou Costello’s work has withstood the test of time. He helped create a legacy that his two living children have been striving to preserve and celebrate since his passing.
Join us as we check in with Costello’s two daughters to see what it was really like growing up as the progeny of one of the most famous comics of all time. Costello’s daughters have revealed several unexpected details about his life that most of you likely have never heard before.
We’ll also be taking a closer look back at a few of the darker moments in Costello’s life. While he was a famed funnyman whose life purpose was to bring smiles and laughter to the world, behind the scenes, his life was at times no laughing matter.
Facts Verse Presents: Lou Costello’s Daughters Speak Out On His Private Life
The Costello’s Had Four Children
In 1934, Costello married his wife, Anne Butler. The couple welcomed the birth of their first child, a daughter whom they named Patricia Costello. Their second child, a daughter named Carole, was born in 1936.
In 1942, the Costello’s third child, a son named Lou Costello Jr., arrived. Seven years later, in 1949, Anne gave birth to her and Lou’s fourth child, a daughter named Christine Costello.
Patricia “Paddy” Costello
Lou’s eldest child, Paddy, appeared on an episode of This Is Your Life in 1956. Besides that, Lou and Anne’s first child has remained mostly out of the spotlight throughout her life. In 2010, she discovered that a local public school in the southern Californian town of Manhattan Beach was producing a performance of her dad’s “Who’s On First” comedy routine. To honor her father’s memory, Paddy made the trip out to the school to attend the performance.
Paddy told the periodical Easy Reader & Peninsula later that year that she couldn’t think of anything that would have pleased her late father more than to know that something like that was organized by a local school. Paddy said that Lou always loved children and that if he were alive to witness it, he would have been filled with joy knowing that young aspiring performers were taking cues from his repertoire.
Christine “Chris” Costello
In the 1987 film Code Name Zebra, Chris enjoyed a small role as Mrs. Noble. Over the years, she has also appeared in a handful of documentary films about her father and Bud Costello’s comedy team. Lou ended up passing away in 1959 at the relatively young age of 52 after suffering a massive heart attack.
In a 2022 interview with Closer, Chris recalled how she met up with Bud right after her dad’s tragic death.
Chris told the outlet that she and Bud were sitting in the living room when an episode of Abbott and Costello came on TV. In that moment, Bud’s eyes filled with tears. Chris says that Bud then looked at her and mournfully lamented that he just missed his buddy.
Chris was only 11 when her father died. Just nine months later, her mother, who was absolutely shattered by Lou’s passing, also died. While she was just a child when Lou and her mother died, Chris says that she still has very vivid memories of their time together.
While her dad was famous, she recalls that whenever he walked into their family home every evening, he was just her dad, not the character he played on TV. Most of the time, he was very serious, but when he would be with the kids, that’s when his funny side would come out.
Chris maintains that her father and Bud Abbot remained lifelong friends until the end. It’s widely known that the duo had their fair share of ups and downs. They were said to have frequently been on non-speaking terms, and it’s also known that they rarely saw eye to eye when it came to salary issues. But at the end of the day, they always patched things up, compromised, and prioritized their friendship over everything else.
Chris says that even though they were together for 21 years and had their issues, it never meant that they hated each other.
In 1982, Chris published a book about her father’s life entitled Lou’s On First. In her research preparing to write that book, she interviewed over 100 people who personally knew her father. It was only then that she realized just how big of an impact Lou had on the world around him. She always knew that he was a popular comic who, at one point, was one of the biggest box office draws in Hollywood, but after hearing firsthand testimony from the people that actually knew him, she came to discover that he was a very heartfelt and giving man.
For example, on one occasion during Christmastime, Lou overheard a little girl crying because her mom couldn’t afford a doll that she wanted. Lou ended up telling the clerk to wrap the doll up and say to the girl that it was from Santa.
As generous as he could be, Chris also recalls that he also had fairly ‘sticky fingers’. Costello developed a reputation for walking off film sets with props. Chris says that he mom used to say that their home was decorated in “early Universal’. For instance, two miniature battleship props used for “In The Navy’, ended up in the Costello family pool.
Evidently, Costello would use his ‘light-fingered’ reputation as leverage to get what he wanted when he was dealing with studios. For example, in 1941, when the Andrews Sisters began appearing in Abbott and Costello films, Lou became incensed when he learned that they were only given a small Army tent for a changing room.
He ended up securing them a trailer by approaching Universal and telling them that if the Andrews Sisters didn’t get a trailer, something might happen to a clock prop that was set to be used in an upcoming scene. If it was anyone else that tried to pull a stunt like that, they would have likely gotten the can in an instant, but Costello was not only fearless, but he was also witty and incredibly charismatic. He could have probably gotten away with a bank robbery if he walked into the joint and laid on his charm.
Lou “Butch” Costello Jr.
There is nothing more heartbreaking for a parent than to lose a child to death.
In 1943, just one year after he was born, Lou’s son “Butch” drowned in a family swimming pool. Lou was in the middle of a rehearsal for a comedy radio show when he received the extremely disturbing news that his son had died.
According to a Los Angeles Times article, Costell’s wife had left Butch in a backyard playpen. She had only taken her eyes off her son for just a few moments, but when she looked back, he was gone. Somehow he had managed to find his way to the family pool and fell in. Butch was not even one year old when he died.
Costello was left totally and utterly devastated following his son’s sudden death. In his honor, Lou formed the “Lou Costello Jr Youth Foundation”, a recreation center that offers programs for youth in LA.
Bud Abbott received the news about Butch while he was watching an old recording of “Who’s On First”. Later that evening, Costello chose to still appear alongside Abbott. At that performance, Abbott was the one that made the heartwrenching announcement of Butch’s death at the conclusion of the show.
Although Abbott and Costello continued to perform alongside each other for the following 14 years, Costello was deeply and insurmountably impacted by the loss of his son. Even so, Costello managed to press on while keeping his head up.
Carole was Lou’s second oldest child. Just like her father, she always had a taste for show business. In 1955, she made a couple of cameo appearances in his films, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy and Abbott and Costello Meet The Keystone Kops.
Carole also worked as a talent coordinator on series like Card Sharks and Trivia Trap. Later in her life, Carole married Dean Martin’s son Craig Martin. Sadly, in April 1987, at the age of 48, Carole died after suffering a massive stroke.
Not only was this tragedy heartbreaking for Lou, but it also deeply rattled the Martin family. Just eight days prior On March 21, 1987, Dean Martin’s son Dean Paul Martin was killed in a plane crash.
Abbott and Costello’s Kids Are Keeping Their Memories Alive
Over the years, the surviving children of Lou Costello and Bud Abbott have collaborated to ensure that their father’s are properly honored posthumously. In the late 80s, Chris Costello worked to have Abbott and Costello honored with a commemorative stamp. After campaigning for a couple of years, USPS minted postal stamps featuring the comedy duo’s likenesses in August of 1991.
Around the time that Chris was fighting to get those stamps made, Bud Abbott Jr and his sister Vicky teamed up with Paddy Costello to produce a video for Warner Home Video that was called “The Best of Abbott and Costello Live”.
The video featured a compilation of the duo’s live appearances on TV. The footage featured a few bloopers and outtakes and was compiled from well-preserved family kinescope recordings that were shot from 1951 to 1954.
When the Costello and Abbott families got together, they formed a production company called Abbott & Costello Enterprises. They went on to produce a documentary about the iconic team in an effort to clear the air of long-standing rumors that cast Bud and Lou in a negative light.
Did you know that his son Butch died before he was even one year old, and were you aware that his daughter Carole passed away at the age of 48 after suffering from a massive stroke? Let us know in the comments, and feel free to share anything else that comes to mind regarding Abbott and Costello. As always, thanks for watching.