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Meet Abbott and Costello Part Two

1943 was a turning point in Abbott and Costello career on March 3,1943 Lou Costello's 37th birthday he collapsed from rheumatic heart disease. Lou had suffered from rheumatic fever when he was a child and it had flared up again. He would battle the disease for the rest of his life. Lou was confined to a wheelchair and the doctors were afraid he would never work again. Lou's fought the disease and he slowly began to recover. During Lou's illness he was visited by many Hollywood stars including his idol Charlie Chaplin. Bud and Lou formed plans to create a Rheumatic Fever Foundation. They would reissue Buck Privates with the profits going to the foundation. In September of 1943 Lou took his first steps in more than six months and in November he was well enough to resume work. On Thursday, November 4th the team was at NBC studios preparing for Lou's first night back on the air. Several hours before the show would go live Lou was told that his baby son Louis Jr. had gotten out of his playpen and crawled to the swimming pool where he fell in and drowned. Louis Jr. would have turned one year old the next week. Jimmy Durante, Mickey Rooney and others offered to fill in for Lou but he insisted on going on with the show. The studio and radio audience was unaware of the tragedy when Bud and Lou came on stage to begin the show. The audience could see that Bud and Lou were upset as were the other performers on the show. As the show ended Bud told the listeners of the program what had happened. "Now that our program is over, I would like to pay tribute to my best friend a man who has more courage then I have ever seen in the theater. The old expression 'The show must go on.', was brought home to all of us. Just before our broadcast, Lou Costello's was told that his baby had died. There is nothing more that I can say except that I know you all join me in expressing our deepest sympathy to a great trouper." Lou never got over the death of his son. Together Bud and Lou would devote their time to the creation of the Lou Costello Jr. Youth Foundation to benefit underprivileged children. Abbott and Costello went on tour to earn money for the foundation and raised half a million dollars to begin construction. The foundation opened on May 3,1947. Bud and Lou put a good deal of their earnings into the center which eventually absorbed by the city of Los Angeles in the 1950s.

The Return To Films

The team returned to films after Lou's illness in 1944 with "In Society" followed by "Lost in A Harem"(1944) for MGM. Back at Universal the made "Here Comes the Co-Eds"(1945), their first costume picture "The Naughty Nineties"(1945) and their final film for MGM "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood"(1945) For their next film Universal decided to do something different by splitting the team up for their next picture "Little Giant"(1946) Lou plays the lean role with Abbott in a dual role as a supporting character and his cousin. The film was a box office failure but Universal tried again with "The Time of Their Lives"(1946) where Costello plays a ghost who haunts Abbott. The boys return as a team in "Buck Privates Come Home"(1947) a sequel to their first big hit Buck Privates. Followed by "The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap"(1947) and "The Noose Hangs High"(1948) an independent film they made at the Eagle-Lion's Studio. During this time Abbott and Costello's film had declined in popularity but their biggest success was about to come.

Back On Top

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

The TV Show

The Abbott and Costello Show (1951-1953)

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