The Abbott and Costello Show
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The Abbott and Costello Show is an American television sitcom starring the popular comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The program premiered in syndication in the fall of 1952 and ran two seasons, to the spring of 1954. Each season ran 26 episodes.

The series is considered to be among the most influential comedy programs in history. In 1998, Entertainment Weekly praised the series as one of the 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time . In 2007, Time magazine selected it for its The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME. Jerry Seinfeld has declared that The Abbott and Costello Show, with its overriding emphasis upon funny situations rather than life lessons, was the inspiration for his own long-running sitcom, Seinfeld.


The show, which was put into production soon after Abbott and Costello joined the roster of rotating hosts of The Colgate Comedy Hour, was conceived as a vehicle to bring the duo s tried-and-true burlesque routines to television in a format that the team could control. There were none of the musical interludes or love stories that marked most of their feature films. Basically, if a situation or gag was funny, the team filmed it with little regard to plot, character or continuity. As a result, the show became a valuable record of classic burlesque scenes performed by the duo.

Abbott and Costello portrayed unemployed actors sharing an apartment in a rooming house in Los Angeles. The supporting cast included Sidney Fields as Sidney Fields, their landlord; Hillary Brooke as Hillary Brooke, their neighbor and sometime love interest for Costello; Gordon Jones as Mike the Cop, a dimwitted foil for the boys and sometime rival for Hillary; and Joe Kirk (Costello s brother-in-law) as Mr. Bacciagalupe, an Italian immigrant caricature who held a variety of jobs depending upon the requirements of the script. Joe Besser appeared as Stinky, a little boy dressed in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, as a guest star. Bobby Barber and Joan Shawlee also appeared frequently in small roles. Several episodes featured a pet chimp named Bingo , who was dressed exactly the same as Costello; she was later fired from the show after biting Costello. Brooke, Kirk and Besser did not appear in the second season.

First season shows opened with a title sequence over a montage of scenes from Abbott and Costello s early Universal films. Each episode began with a framing sequence on a stage, where the pair would share gags with the audience and occasionally a fellow cast member, and often set up the episode s plot. They would reappear halfway through the episode and discuss what had just occurred or hint at things to come. These stage portions were dropped in the second season, which followed a more traditional sitcom format. A simpler opening title sequence, without film clips or cast credits, was also introduced.

The series did not employ a laugh track in the strictest sense; completed episodes were screened for an audience in a theater and their reactions were recorded and added to the soundtrack. In the 2021 4k restoration release, some episodes have the option to be viewed with and without an audience track.

Broadcast history

The show was not a network program when first introduced in the fall of 1952, but was sold into syndication by MCA Inc. to about 40 local stations across the country. As a result, it was broadcast on different days and at different times in different cities. In New York City, it began airing on December 5, 1952, on WCBS-TV, leading earlier reference works to erroneously presume that the show was carried nationally on the CBS network starting on that date. It was broadcast at 10:30 pm on WCBS, which was after network programming had signed off and local programming resumed. The series had debuted in other cities earlier in the fall. Similarly, second-season episodes (1953–54) were telecast in New York on NBC s flagship station, WNBT (later WNBC-TV), but not carried on that network, either. The only time the show was broadcast on a network was when CBS repeated first-season episodes as part of its Saturday morning schedule in the 1954–55 season.

The sitcom had a long life in reruns from the late 1950s to the 1990s. It has been released on DVD by three different distributors, starting in the 1990s.

In the 2010s and into the 2020s, the series resurfaced on classic TV networks such as MeTV and its spinoff/sister network Decades.

Production notes

Lou Costello owned the show with Bud Abbott working on salary. The first two establishing episodes were produced by Alex Gottlieb, who had produced the team s first eight films and, more recently, their two independent color films, Jack and the Beanstalk and Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952). Jean Yarbrough, who directed every episode of the TV series, took over the producing chores thereafter. Costello s brother, Pat Costello, was listed as the producer, but his function was nominal.

Eddie Forman, head writer on the team s radio show, wrote the first five TV episodes, after which Sidney Fields wrote the remaining 21 shows. Episodes in the second season were primarily written by Clyde Bruckman (15 shows) and Jack Townley (10). As Bruckman wrote, Yarbrough insisted on tighter plots . Fields received a co-writing credit on five episodes, including one with Costello.

The first season was filmed at the Hal Roach Studios in Culver City. The 14.5-acre (59,000 m2) studio, once known as The Lot of Fun, was razed in 1963 and replaced by Landmark Street, an area of light industrial buildings, businesses and an automobile dealership, where a plaque marks the studio s former location. The second season was shot at Motion Picture Center Studios (today Red Studios Hollywood), where the team had made Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd. Soon after, the studio became Desilu-Cahuenga Studios. I Love Lucy and the Danny Thomas and Jack Benny shows were also filmed there.

Home media

There have been several releases since the early 1990s:

  • The Abbott & Costello Show: Shanachie Entertainment: 13-volume VHS series staggered release beginning in November, 1992.
  • The Abbott & Costello Show: Shanachie Entertainment: 13-volume DVD series staggered release beginning in January, 2003.
  • The Abbott & Costello Show: 100th Anniversary Collection Season 1: Passport Video. September 5, 2006
  • The Abbott & Costello Show: 100th Anniversary Collection Season 2: Passport Video. October 3, 2006
  • The Abbott & Costello Show: The Complete Series (Collector s Edition): E1 Entertainment. March 30, 2010
  • The Abbott and Costello Show: Season 1: E1 Entertainment. October 2, 2012
  • The Abbott and Costello Show: Season 2: E1 Entertainment. May 20, 2014

On December 14, 2021, ClassicFlix in association with 3-D Film Archive released Season 1 on Blu-ray and DVD utilizing the first 4K scans of the original camera negatives and soundtracks.

Year 1952
ReleaseDate 1957-09-14
Plot Bud and Lou are unemployed actors living in Mr. Fields’ boarding house. Lou’s girlfriend Hillary lives across the hall. Any premise would lead to slapstick, puns, lots of gimmicks from their movies.
Stars Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Sid Fields
Series Produced by Pat Costello,Jean Yarbrough,Alex Gottlieb
Series Music by Raoul Kraushaar,Mort Glickman,Al Goodman
Series Cinematography by George Robinson,Jack MacKenzie
Series Film Editing by Gene Fowler Jr.,Otho Lovering,William Austin,Fred R. Feitshans Jr.
Series Art Direction by Dave Milton
Series Set Decoration by Eugene S. Kelley
Series Makeup Department Abe Haberman
Series Production Management Clarence Eurist,Rex Bailey,Joe Wonder
Series Art Department Lou Asher,Eugene S. Kelley
Series Sound Department Robert Pritchard
Series Special Effects by Ira Anderson Jr.,Jack R. Glass,Bob Overbeck
Series Stunts Vic Parks
Series Costume and Wardrobe Department Albert Deano
Series Editorial Department Otho Lovering
Series Music Department Grace Merrick,Mahlon Merrick,Raoul Kraushaar,Mort Glickman,Al Goodman
Series Additional Crew Milt Bronson,Eugene S. Kelley
Genres Comedy, Family, Mystery
Companies Television Corporation of America
Countries USA
Languages English
ContentRating TV-G
ImDbRating 8.2
ImDbRatingVotes 1233
Keywords sitcom,wisecrack humor,slapstick comedy,gag humor,performer name in title