Happy Birthday, Tubby! (Lou Costello ~ March 6, 1906)

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, what a great pair! Famous for their comedy, Abbott and Costello are best known for amusing audiences in their hugely popular movies during the 1940’s and the 1950’s. Most impressive is that they got their start performing together in burlesque shows, minstrel shows and vaudeville, but never used risque’ or suggestive material during their career together. Bud Abbott was always the straight man and Lou Costello the funny one, usually the brunt of the jokes, but he took his falls and accepted the zingers in a way that was warming to the audience and not embarrassing to watch. Though quite “tubby” during the famous parts of his life, Costello was once a gifted athlete who excelled in basketball and had been the New Jersey State Foul Shot champion. In his younger days, he had also fought as a boxer under the name “Lou King.”

In my family, Lou Costello is best known for giving my father a nickname that stuck. Skinny most of his life, my Dad put on a bunch of weight in the mid 80’s. My brother, then age 8, was a huge Abbott and Costello fan. Their movies used to come on television on Sunday afternoons and there my brother sat, laughing and mezmorized by the timing and humor that was as fresh to him as it had been decades before him. Abbott often made fun of Costello’s hefty size and one of the names he called him was “tubby”. My Dad took teasing and humor well, so when my brother called him “Tubby”, he laughed and then…it stuck. Though my father lost the extra weight and lived out the remainder of his life a thin man, he was forever known as “Tubby”, by everyone who knew him.

Here is the comic routine Abbott and Costello are best known for…”Who’s On First?”

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