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The Abbott and Costello Show (radio program)

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The Abbott and Costello Show
Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
in the NBC radio studios in 1942
Running time30 minutes
Country of originUnited States
TV adaptationsThe Abbott and Costello Show
StarringBud Abbott
Lou Costello
AnnouncerKen Niles
Frank Bingman
Jim Doyle
Michael Roy
Written byMartin Gosch
Howard Harris
Hal Fimberg
Don Prindle
Ed Cherkose
Len Stern
Martin Ragaway
Paul Conlan
Ed Forman
Produced byMartin Gosch
Original releaseJuly 3, 1940 (1940-07-03) – June 9, 1949 (1949-06-09)
Sponsored bySal Hepatica
Camel (cigarettes)

The Abbott and Costello Show is a comedy program from the era of old-time radio in the United States. It was broadcast first on NBC and later on ABC, beginning July 3, 1940, and ending June 9, 1949.[1]


Film stars Bud Abbott and Lou Costello adapted their talents to radio for this 30-minute weekly comedy program. Vincent Terrace, in his book, Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows, wrote, "Many of the skits revolved around Bud and Lou's efforts to succeed in some sort of business venture."[2] The skits were often ones that they had used in their vaudeville act.[3]

Popular culture scholar J. Fred MacDonald, in his book, Don't Touch That Dial!: Radio Programming in American Life, 1920-1960, wrote that the pair formed "one of the leading radio comedy acts throughout the 1940s."[4] He noted that Abbott was the straight man, with Costello "the comedic force of the act."[4]


Over the years, a number of people were regulars on the program, complementing the two stars primarily through participation in comedy skits. They included Joe Kirk (Costello's brother-in-law) as the excitable Sicilian immigrant Mr. Bacciagalupe, Artie Auerbach as Mr. Kitzel, Elvia Allman, Iris Adrian, Mel Blanc, Wally Brown, Sharon Douglas, Verna Felton, Sidney Fields, Frank Nelson, Martha Wentworth and Benay Venuta. Guest stars included Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, The Andrews Sisters and Lucille Ball.

Singers on the show included Amy Arnell, Connie Haines, Marilyn Maxwell, Susan Miller, and Marilyn Williams. Vocal groups were the Delta Rhythm Boys and The Les Baxter Singers. Orchestra leaders were Skinnay Ennis, Charles Hoff, Matty Matlock, Jack Meakin, Will Osborne, Freddie Rich, Leith Stevens and Peter van Steeden.[2]


Abbott and Costello debuted on radio on Kate Smith's program in 1938. They continued performing on it until the summer of 1940.[5] Their first program of their own was a summer replacement for The Fred Allen Show in 1940. After a hiatus of two years, the show returned as a regular network program in the fall of 1942 and ran through the spring of 1949.[1] The schedule is shown in the table below.

Starting date Ending date Network Sponsor
July 3, 1940 September 25, 1940 NBC Sal Hepatica
October 8, 1942 June 27, 1947 NBC Camel cigarettes
October 1, 1947 June 9, 1949 ABC sustaining

Source: On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio[1]

Beginning in 1947, the programs were recorded and made available via transcriptions to stations outside the regular ABC network.[6]

A related program, The Abbott and Costello Children's Show, was broadcast on ABC beginning December 6, 1947, and ending March 26, 1949. It was sustaining[1] and featured child performers and included quizzes and games.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved 2019-08-20. The Abbott and Costello Show, comedy.
  2. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4. Pp. 5-7.
  3. ^ a b Reinehr, Robert C. and Swartz, Jon D. (2008). The A to Z of Old-Time Radio. Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8108-7616-3. Pp. 11-12.
  4. ^ a b MacDonald, J. Fred (1979). Don't Touch That Dial!: Radio Programming in American Life, 1920-1960'. Chicago: Nelson-Hall. pp. 150–151. ISBN 0-88229-673-6.
  5. ^ Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, 2nd Edition. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4. P. 10.
  6. ^ Hammerston, Claude (August 21, 1947). "Abbott And Costello In "Waxed" Radio Show". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
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