ABBOTT, BUD (William Abbott ; 1895–1974), U.S. actor. Famous for playing the straight man in the legendary comedy duo "Abbott and Costello" with longtime partner Lou Costello, Abbott was born to Ringling Brothers' Circus performers in Asbury Park, New Jersey. After dropping out of school in 1909, he began working in carnivals and theaters around the U.S. Eventually he became the manager of the National Theater in Detroit, where he honed his skills playing the straight man alongside vaudeville performers Harry Steepe and Harry Evanson. In 1931, Abbott was working as a cashier at the Brooklyn Theater when he substituted for Lou Costello's usual straight man, who was ill, and what would become one of comedy's most celebrated teams was formed. The duo's first national exposure came in 1938, with an appearance on The Kate Smith Hour radio show that led to a contract with Universal the following year. In 1940, Abbott and Costello secured their place in comedic history with their unforgettable supporting role in Universal's One Night in the Tropics, in which they performed their signature "Who's on First?" routine. Abbott and Costello's first starring role with Universal came in the comedy Buck Privates (1941). The unexpected success of Buck Privates led to a string of starring roles in slapstick comedies such as In the Navy (1941), Hold That Ghost (1941), Keep 'Em Flying (1941), Ride 'Em Cowboy (1942), Who Done It? (1942), Hit the Ice (1943), and In Society (1944). The duo continued to rely upon their trademark fast-paced, cross-talking formula in more than a dozen other films throughout the latter half of the 1940s and into the early 1950s, when they also began to appear on the television shows The Colgate Comedy Hour (1951–54) and The Abbott and Costello Show (1952–54). In 1956, Abbott and Costello finally parted ways following an irs investigation that left both men in dire financial straits. Abbott attempted to revive his career with a new partner, Candy Candido, during the 1960s but found little success. In his final performance, Abbott provided his own voice for the 1966 animated television series, Abbott and Costello.
[Walter Driver (2nd ed.)]