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R. J. Bennett
- Pubblicato su Amazon.com
Formato: Formato Kindle
Every kid who watched television in the 60's loved Abbott and Costello. Those were the days when old movies were shown, before 'infomercials' took over the airways. All the young boys I knew who watched he comedy team of Abbott & Costello loved the 'Who's on First' skit. This book, Lou's on First, was written by his youngest daughter, Chris Costello, who had the inside track on home life with Lou, but who also had much knowledge concerning his career, and also knew much about the life of Bud Abbott (an included bonus, since I haven't seen much concerning the straight man).
Lou Costello lived a fast life, worked hard, loved his family, gambled, bet on horses, and spent money like there was no tomorrow. He and Bud Abbott almost single-handedly saved Universal Pictures from bankruptcy, and were well paid as a result. He spent years honing his comedy craft in burlesque, which led to radio, which led to movies, which led to television. He worked hard, maybe too hard; during WWII his popularity soared, and he traveled the country promoting war bonds, coming down with a serious case of rheumatic fever, keeping him bedridden for almost a year. After recovering, he spent a few years building his career, but tragedy set in with the backyard drowning death of his only son, Lou Costello Jr. This was hard on Lou, who kept busy working to deal with his sorrow, but Mrs. Costello (Anne) dealt with it by turning to drink.
Because of Lou's fast-paced living and poor handling of finances (he would sign where his handlers pointed), his gambling attracted the attention of the IRS, who came down hard on both him and Bud Abbott. Lou kept no records of his business expenses, and the IRS thought he made lots of money from gambling (when the opposite was true), so he had no hard evidence with which to defend himself; the IRS was out for blood and took him to the cleaners. He had to sell his home, his ranch, his properties, lay off employees, and move into a small apartment.
The act with Bud Abbott had run its course; it had been a successful 20-year partnership, and Bud was drinking, which tended to spoil live shows in Las Vegas. Lou was ready for a change, and was starred as a single on television in various shows, gaining traction as a television actor. He was focusing on his career, building a new home, but then his heart gave out, probably from his years of rheumatic fever, and maybe smoking cigars.
He died in the hospital at age 53. A year later, Mrs. Costello also passed away, leaving the three Costello sisters to look after each other.
What a generous man ! As a result of his riches, he was an easy mark for more experienced gamblers, and a target for acquaintances and strangers, who would show up at his HOME for drinks and gifts, yes, gifts, from Lou Costello, who loved making other people happy. How he put up with people taking advantage of his generosity I don't think I'll ever figure out. Immediately after his death, one of the Costello sisters chased people out of her parent's home, the folks who were so used to taking hand-outs from Lou, informing them that the party was over and that they should start taking care of themselves. Oh yes ... Lou Costello also built and paid for a recreational youth center in East L.A., the Lou Costello Jr. Youth Center ... and spent years maintaining it before the city of Los Angeles finally took control. For more info, see the YouTube 'This is Your Life' television show, where they featured much of Mr. Costello's life, friends, family, career, filmed shortly before his sudden passing.