Published on June 25, 2016
The Abbott and Costello Show is an American television sitcom starring the popular comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello that premiered in syndication in the fall of 1952 and ran until May 1954.
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 was a vehicle to bring the duo’s tried-and-true burlesque routines to television in a format that the team could control. It contained 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 Hollywood. The supporting cast included Sidney Fields as their landlord, Sidney Fields; Hillary Brooke as neighbor (and sometime love interest for Costello) Hillary Brooke; Gordon Jones as Mike the Cop, a dimwitted foil for the boys; Joe Besser as Stinky, a “little boy” dressed in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit, played by the clearly adult Besser; 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. Bobby Barber and Joan Shawlee also appeared frequently. 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, Besser and Kirk also left the cast after the first season.