Friday, May 31, 2013

THE LAST DAYS OF BUD ABBOTT

Awhile ago I posted a story on comedian Bud Abbott that was done in 1960. It was a year after his beloved partner Lou Costello passed away. Abbott was sad and dejected after feeling left out by the Hollywood scene that once embraced the team. Sadly, his final years got worse and worse. When Bud Abbott died on April 24, 1974 at the age of 78 he was a broke and defeated man.

In 1961, Bud Abbott began performing with a new partner, Candy Candido to good reviews. But Abbott called it quits, remarking that "No one could ever live up to Lou." The following year, Abbott performed in a dramatic television episode of General Electric Theater titled "The Joke's On Me".  After struggling to repay IRS liens that zapped his savings, Abbott thought he found salvation providing his own voice for the Hanna-Barbera animated series The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show, with Stan Irwin providing the voice of Lou Costello. The cartoon ran in syndication from September 9, 1967 to June 1, 1968 and consisted of 39 individual episodes. However, the money that Abbott made from that voice over would be wiped away as his health began to fade.

By 1970 Abbott was living off a $180 a month social security benefit. His wife worked part time, and he was supported by his two children. In late 1970, he suffered the first in a series of strokes. In 1972, he broke his hip. Later that year his daughter Victoria Wheeler was interviewed for the National Enquirer, and told them:

"The doctors don’t hold any hope for him. He has cancer.My father is a very sick man. He has prostate cancer. He is in a lot of pain and hallucinates a great deal. Doctors say he has three to six months to live, but only God can tell. His condition changes from day to day. Sometimes he seems okay and in the next moment his is incoherent and oblivious to those around him.”


After the National Enquirer ran the article, Bud Abbott was bombarded with cards and letters - some even including money. In September of 1973 the magazine ran a follow up story where Abbott's wife Betty was interviewed:

“We couldn’t possibly answer all the letters, but I want to thank everybody. And please tell them that Bud is not alone. We’ve been together for over 55 years. The doctors never tell me anything except that he’s very sick. If he could only live. I say my prayers for my husband every night, but I want to keep him with me for as long as I can.”

In Bud Abbott's final monthes, he basically faded away in a hospital bed in what was once a dining room. He was unable to move or talk, and his life was pretty much filled with days of suffering. Bud Abbott's suffering finally came to an end on April 24, 1974. He was surrounded by his wife Betty Abbott (1902-1981) and two adopted children Bud Abbott Jr (1942-1998) and Vickie Wheeler (born 1949). It such a shame that in a lifetime of laughter that Abbott gave audiences, his final years were spent in pain and sadness. It is not just sad, it is a tragedy...



87 comments:

  1. He was a great man!! He made me laught as a child.Always remeber wi1th love

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  2. Truly sad that a man who gave pleasure to so many died in such a state. But, this is the society we have created, we could do better, we just don't. Happy in our ignorance we just don't try.

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    1. I really loved the movies that he and Bud played in. It was the best time I spent watching TV.
      Thanks guys for all the fun.

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  3. His family bled him dry

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  4. The government bled him dry would be more correct.

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  5. I agree, its the IRS that bleeds many dry, and for what?

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    1. to support the United States of America

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    2. To support the freeloaders...

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    3. What freeloaders? The biggest ones are:

      1) The wealthy

      2) Corporations

      3) The military

      Nobody else in the U.S.A. is a freeloader but these three above-mentioned classes.

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    4. You´re a delusional idiot, Comrade....

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    5. And you're too stupid to know that the 1% is screwing you over and laughing at you.

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    6. What a royal "jackass. The military are freeloaders. If you breakdown the pay per hour, it comes down to roughly just over a dollar an hour. That is including the housing and medical besides the pay. We work harder than anybody and we protect your rights to be able to say this stupid crap. The military give their lives for this country. What have you given to this country? I have been in a war and have almost died for this country. Jackass!

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    7. The one percent has their tentacles everywhere. If it was just the one percent we'd stand a chance but their billions line a whole lot of 99% pockets.The MIC is part of that one percent and they fed a lot of people who would be stupid to bit that hand.

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    8. No one is blaming individuals in the military, but the institution is not needed in the way it has been used. For the last sixty years they've been sent to one unnecessary war after another.

      Another utter waste of money has been the DEA's 50-year "drug war." Fortunately their days are numbered. A lot of people are waking up to their self-serving nonsense on our dime.

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    9. For complete evil.

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    10. I totally agree with you on this anonymous. My father served in the military for 25years. He was stationed in Germany for just over a year. If people don't know what their talking about, they should shut the hell up! If it wasn't for the US and Canadian army, life would be so much different! We have freedom so people should be grateful!

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    11. ----- GREED !!!!!! We will all miss you, Bud and Abbit

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  6. A career of making the world laugh and never used profanity even once.

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  7. Bud and Lou made us all laugh and we owed them so much more than the tragic hand that they were both dealt. See them as they reall were in the 1956 "This is Your Life" episode featuring Lou. Truly touching!

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  8. I met him shortly before his death. I was only about 7 years old, and wandered" willy- nilly" toward his apt, not knowing who he was, but he was a "sweet" man, so I would go over there a couple of more times. We never really got to know one another. I was more of a pesky kid, but I went into his apt. a few times. there was a lady there, I think It might have been his wife, but not sure. They kicked me out "nicely" both times. lol! the last time I stopped by he was sleeping in his bed in the daytime, and he looked very sick. Poor man, and I told him I liked his apt, and he said he was afraid of losing it. I would have loved to help him ,but what could I do. His apt, was like a long studio, and he had nice living room furniture,with a luxurious red tufted couch. I saw him when he had all those letters and said that people had sent him money, and I wanted to look thru them and I asked him if I could have some money too, and He said "No", firmly, and out I went again by them of course. lOL! Well, I just wanted to share my encounter with this terrific man. He was a good man, PS: My dad lived near him and my brother and I went over on our school holidays.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this great remembrance! Much appreciated! -- Bud was the perfect straight-man. Sorry his last days were so sad, but he is not sad now, and he left much joy and laughter.

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    2. Budd Abbott lived in a house in Woodland Hills and not an apartment, you must be thinking of Lou Costello not Bud Abbott.

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    3. It had to be bud abbott.I believe lou Costello died before than person was born.

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  9. how can i say this without feeling sad in my heart?we miss you bud and lou we never forget what you both gave all of us your comedys a why out of our lifes and a peek into yours love you both always xxxxxx r.i.p

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  10. his a great enterienemt and a great team with costello and to this day i love watching ther movies

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  11. Bud Abbott was the greatest straight man ever! He will always live on in movies and tv. I watched him and Lou as a child. I'm 44 years old and still watch them today. I have all their movies on DVD. You know I still chuckle at the two of them. Thanks Bud!!

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  12. All those years of working hard selling War Bonds from the White House to military camps no one ever heard of for free. And the "thank you" from Uncle Sam...took their homes, their cars, their money, even their clothes. Were they foolish with their money, yes, did they ignore paying all taxes, yes, BUT come on, no room for a break for these two guys. How pathetic.

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    1. I remember watching Abbott and Costello on channel 9, new York city at my grandmothers on thanks giving along with mighty Joe young and the original king Kong and miracle on 34 th street. My father and uncle did a rendition of ' who's on first...', we adored Abbot and Costello . They were a big part of all the best times we had. They gave so much joy and laughter. Thank you Bud and Lou- may you never be forgotten- my family, thanks to DVDs will never forget you.

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    2. Thank you for saying that! There is a serious rift between those who serve or have served our Country, and the type of support; benefits, etc., one can expect to receive. A sad story concerning Bud, but I hope our prayers & thoughts reach him!

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  13. I HAVE LOVED THE MOVIES OF ABBOTT AND COSTELLO BUT I REALLY LOVE THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW WHICH RAN FROM 1952-1953. THESE DVDS WERE MADE AVAILABLE IN 2006 ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF LOU'S BIRTH.

    ALL THE ACTORS IN THIS SHOW ARE NOW GONE BUT THE LAUGHTER THEY GAVE US WILL LIVE FOREVER! RIP BUD AND LOU AND THANK YOU!!!!!!!

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    1. BUD ABBOTT AND LOU COSTELLO WILL ALWAYS BE HEROES. TO EVERY AMERICAN THEY MADE AMERIA SMILE WEN THEY NEEDED IT THE MOST , MAY NOT HAVE FIRED A BULLET OR MARHED INTO BATTLE , BUT THEY KEPT AMERICA. SMILING BOOSTING HER MORALE ,THATHALF THE BATTLE GOD LESS ThEM BOTH MAY THEY BOTH REST In PEACE GOD BLESS

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  14. Scripted a few of his films. Great guy. A bit scatty. As John once said "Bloody Hell!, the scoundrel nearly caught my past!". But as I uttered, great, great guy!

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  15. I worked with him on his acceptance speech for the Bears Club. Lovely man who told me stories of circuses and gas stations he visited. He had one story about a kid who raised raccoons in a vat outside his uncle's farm. He trained them to count up to three with their hands and made about a buck fifty a week. When a buck fifty was worth something. Sadly they all died inside the vat one night during a storm. The kid went on to be a major film star.ho also died in tragic circumstances. though not in a flooded vat. What a legend.

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  16. Its funny how some things just stick in your mind and I will never forget the day Bud Abbott died. I was about 16 at the time, it was a Saturday afternoon and on the radio came the announcement and, of course, the legendary WHOS ON FIRST routine to follow. Did not really know how sick he was at the time, but felt so sorry to hear of all the hardships he faced in later years, much like Stan laurel and Oliver Hardy. Forty years later, not forgotten. Rest in everlasting peace.

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  17. I was Best boy/Dolly grip on "Abbott and Costello meet Jack the ripper".
    Great guy. He once told me a story about how after an eighteen hour juiced up Bible marathon reading he decided to spend forty days and nights out in the desert with no food or water. Just jumped straight in his battered old jalopy called Dave and drove there. He only lasted thirty-five, but still, what a guy! Oh yea.. it was a SIX day drive!! WOW

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    1. There is no such movie!! You thought people weren't going to check that out?

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    2. It got canned at the eleventh hour.

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  18. Bud & Lou probably the finest comedy team of the 20th Century.
    -And who cares about the 21st Century ?
    Now it's all sick "humor" or laced with profanity !

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  19. His problem with the IRS is one of many that met that evil octopus. Truth be told, the I.R.S is a foreign entity. It is not an agency of the federal government.
    There is no law stating you must pay federal income tax. Everyone should research it. Also, the 'money' printed by the federal reserve is fiat because it does not follow the Constitution requirements for states coining money.

    http://newsdoors.blogspot.com/2013/01/batfirs-criminal-fraud.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSmjtVr5bVA

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    1. Peter:

      It is not THEIR money. It is YOUR money. YOU earned it. Always remember that.

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  20. What a sad story about a comic legend. I've never been able to understand why self employed people let themselves get into such financial difficulty. Surely all they have to do is put a certain percentage of their wages away every week/month into a separate account to cover their tax and forget about it, then when the IRS ask for their money it's all there ready for them.

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    1. Costello didn't go broke because he invested his cash wisely in the 50s. Abbott liked to gamble unfortunately and lost a lot of money that way.

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    2. Yet instead of focusing on that, the previous commenters spewed bullcrap about the IRS taking away his money, one of them saying 'freeloaders' did it.

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  21. Bud Abbott died broke because he didn't sign the deals to collect residuals from the "Abbot & Costello" TV show. At that time, in the 50s, Abbot saw TV as just a passing fad that could never replace films and radio. Costello signed the deals and made a small fortune in the 60s and 70s.

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    1. Really? Costello died in 1959. I'll let you do the math.

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    2. "Anonymous" Idiot. It went to his estate,then to his daughters who are doing quite well. Mind you, TCA is still trading too, sixty plus years later. Trust me... IRS or no IRS, this man left a financial time capsule for his family. He was quite brilliant.

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  22. How is it that Americans have a knack of letting down the people that give them the most. Abbot and Costello were forgotten. Babe Ruth was forgotten. Our veterans are forgotten. The Bible may say to forgive and forget but Americans forget and forget.

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  23. I am 60 years old and have watched Abbott and Costello movies so many times i can not count. Actually I am watching one right now. I loved them as a child and i still love them as an adult. I miss you guys. Rest in peace.

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  24. Its a good thing we have those old shows to reminisce to.

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  25. I would like go see the irs after all these years forgive lou and bud for there tax problem. Make a public announcement in the media that after all these boys did selling US bonds being away from there family for months at a time all for free they never got paid for there time . Even though the boys are gone now, it would be nice for tnere family.

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    1. I wish I could see all those IRS bums who did that get arrested themselves and rot in jail.

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  26. They made more than 85 million selling war bonds and didn't get a penny for it they did it for love of country and in return the gov waits til they were losing the earning power they once had and takes every thing that these men worked for. That's how we treat two war heroes! The IRS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A TEMPORARY ENTITY but the bible says in Micah chap 2 verses 1- 5 that judge willcome to those who steal other peoples property and they will stand before our maker on judgement day.

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  27. Same thing happened to Joe Louis. He damaged his health in a comeback to pay the vultures for tax on money he gave them foir fights during World War II while he was training soldiers in PT for peanuts.

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  28. The greatest straight man that ever lived. Watching him I laughed, hearing when he passed I cried. No one will ever be able to fill his shoes He belongs to the angels now.

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  29. Bud and Lou. They are just like old friends that you visit with from time to time and share so many memories together.No, I never was fortunate enough to see them live however my 6 year old grandson is now a big fan. I hope the memories of Jake and I carry on my memories of the both of them so the laughter never dies.

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  30. I'm watching "The Dentist's Office" circa 1952 on TV. I had no idea about poor Mr.Abbott. In 74 I was in the Navy and only learned of his plight because of my new smart phone. Never gave much thought to the duo's personal lives. Wow.

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  31. Love watching these shows as a kid ,,SYDNEY AUSTRALIA ,1970 ,

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  32. I dunno who's on first,or whats on second, but I never missed their shows.

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  33. My brothers and I loved when Abbott and Costello movies were on. Through the late 60's and into the 70's us four boys enjoyed a Sat or Sun afternoon watching them. Always seemed to be on with Ma and Pa Kettle and Francis the talking horse. Perth, Western Australia.

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  34. He loved all comedy, all types. He would have loved THE HUMOR ABOUT HILLARY - the funniest book on Amazon.

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  35. Many thanks to Mr Abbott who, along with Costello, touched me and my family's lives with laughter for many many years. Still watch their movies with my kids now and they still bring great pleasure. Great clean slapstick and intelligent comedy. Sorely midsed. Rest in Peace in God's Kingdom. They were great and one of a kind!

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  36. There is not much I can add that hasn't already been said about BUD & LOU. I'M soon turning 66--I've been fighting throat cancer and WINNING since Feb. '16; I want to go on record as stating the majority of today's prime time non-cable shows are pure shot, just as rap is. ME-TV SHOULD broadcast everything BUD & LOU. I don't have any of their DVDs, sadly... all my spare SSI is goin for treatments.Anyway, this writing is about my undying loyalty to BUD & LOU. I THANK THEM FOR ALL THE LAUGHS til I cried moments. May GOD BLESS THEM & GRANT THEIR SOULS EVERLASTING PEACE. PS cancer CAN BE BEATEN--- always get a 2nd opinion from an oncon.

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    1. GOD BLESS YOU for fighting and winning the battle of throat cancer. you do have so much more life to live.I do wish they would show more abbott and costello shows they dont show enough good old programs.


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    2. You've all got a ton of channels to show old movies/TV on already, and besides, nobody wants to spend their days in a nostalgia bath.

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    3. im 92 years old i need all the nostalgic bath i can get.

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    4. You lived in a time of much better comedy then the garbage we have now I was born in the 1980s so I am going enough to be your grandchild.

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  37. Best EVER straight man!!! Hands down!!!

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  38. I remember bud & lou in films just after the war years, they were great sad loss.

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  39. missed them , just plain ole missed them !!!!!

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  40. It's very sad. But, we cannot forget the joy he's brought to the world. There's a special place in heaven for people like this.

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  41. Grew up watching there tv show. Was always thrilled when A AND C meet Frankenstien would show up on Sat morning tv. It was my favorite movie back in the early 60s when i was about 10 or 11...

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  42. Bud and Lou along with Joe Louis made a lot of money when the tax rates for the upper incomes were very high during World War 2 and into the 50's. It took a lot of clever money management to avoid the fate, which befell them, and not everyone was able to do that. A very sad thing, but I certainly enjoyed there TV show, and movies. Still do.

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  43. The one most important thing about the movies of Bud and Lou. Is that it was all about love

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  44. Let me say this, anyone thinking they know the real Bud Abbott and his life story they do not. Anything you read in the press is either a lie or exaggerated. I know I'm his grand daughter. The comments about his talent and how you loved his radio, TV shows and movies is appreciated. He loved the business and his fans.

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  45. I enjoyed them as a kid and still do as an adult. I'm sorry for his loss and I pray the family can get through this hardship and continue to grow. We will never forget them. God Bless and stay strong. Much love and respect

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  46. What a team. Bud Abbot is my favorite straight man of all time.

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  47. My Dad met Bud as a soldier in Hollywood in 1943. He bought my Dad and 2 other soldiers a drink in some gin mill. Dad said he was a gentleman and very gracious. Sorry that Bud had troubles later in life.

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  48. They were one of the funniest comedy duos ever, they made a ton of money but they both gambled away most of their fortune--They're still funny today, some of the TV shows are still on TV

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  49. Sir Alexander StrandMarch 20, 2017 at 7:45 PM

    Bud Abbott n Lou Costello got me through the toughest years of my life. My father got the privilege to see them both when he was in the Navy. I wish I could have had the privilege. They gave this world the best comedy team that will ever be. I thank them n my they rest in peace. Love you guys. Sir Alexander.

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  50. They raised 80 million dollars for bonds in WWII and Lou got sick with Rhuematic Fever during the tour which would shorten his live as it attacked the valves in his heart. No one during the war raised more money than they did and the Government did not cut them a break from poor money management and bad accountants during their lives.

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  51. I may have never got to know you but i wish i could have frome what iveheard you were a wonderful man. You are a part of my family tree and im one proud great great great great granddaughter i may or may not have one too many greats in there.

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  52. I am a early millennial born in the mid 1980s. I was introduced to the legendary comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. I find their work infinitely superior to the comedy we have currently. They will both be remembered fondly.

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  53. My siblings and I loved watching your movies as we were growing up. Today at the age of 55 years old I still get the same thrill and enjoyment as I did all those years ago. Thank you for being unique. You brought laughter to this world. Rest In Peace My Dear Friend.

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  54. I interviewed Bud Abbott in his Encino home in late 1969 with his wife Betty near his side. The house was pretty nondescript and he had just a little difficulty talking, but, still lucid. One of the thing I remember most was him telling me the "Who's On First" routine originated in vaudeville as "Who's the Boss," but was refined by Abbott and Costello. He was bitter about Universal basically treating him and Lou badly. Sad, indeed.

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