Sunday, March 6, 2011


Lou Costello Boris Karloff

Last week I noted the anniversary of Stan Laurel’s passing 46 years ago on February 23, 1965.

I must say I am remiss to not have done the same for Lou Costello this past week. We lost Lou 52 years ago on March 3rd, 1959.

Thankfully history... and the calendar... allow me to make quick amends and pay tribute to Lou as well as it was 105 years ago today that Costello was born, on March 6, 1906.

While Stan Laurel is my favorite movie comedian of all time (and Laurel & Hardy my all-time favorite comedy team), within the realm of the "horror-comedy" genre, Abbott & Costello are the undisputed champs. A big reason for that is few comics could wring as much laughter out of being scared as Lou Costello.

Of course, Costello had the very good fortune to perfect his "scared routine" at the best possible studio: under contract to the "House of Horror" Universal Pictures, Lou got to cavort with such monster legends as Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Frankenstein Monster and the Mummy, plus a spin-off of the Invisible Man that was more mystery than horror, but still a nice nod to James Whales’ classic. As was "Hold That Ghost" with its "old dark house" (a la Whales’ "The Old Dark House"), phony ghosts and secret passageways.

Additional horror paces the studio put Costello through included nods to movie history in the form of the studio’s chief boogeyman Boris Karloff playing Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde as well as a mysterious "swami" character in "Abbott & Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff" that resembled some of Karloff’s sinister mad doctor roles; and Margaret Hamilton matching wits with Costello as she played... what else?... a witch in "Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain!"

Here’s Lou at work in some hysterical outtakes from "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein." Pay particular attention to the sequence wherein Costello’s antics crack up cowboy-star-turned-monster Glenn Strange, made up as the Frankenstein Monster but unable to contain himself... and revealing his deep southern drawl of a laugh in the process! Here’s to you, Lou!


  1. Just drove past the park commemorating Lou in Paterson, NJ. Paterson is one of the underprivileged school districts which benefit from the Abbott decision on school funding a couple of decades back. So Paterson is actually an Abbott & Costello district.

    By the way, have you seen Lou Costello sitting ringside in Battle of the Century?

  2. I have seen Lou ringside in "Battle" - quite a trip! Have you seen "Autobiography of a Jeep," the documentary short? There are back-to-back shots of both Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello riding in jeeps during patriotic parades. It's cut in a way to make it look like they're in the same parade, but the footage is actually from two different events.