Old Time Radio Thursdays – #004: The Abbott and Costello Show (1942-1949)

The short intro: For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Old Time Radio is the phrase generally used to refer to the time when radio was (mostly) live, and was full of a variety of different shows, as opposed to simply being a means for record labels to use robots to promote the top records of the day. Old Time Radio Thursdays is my chance to explore some of those old radio shows, their connections (both old and new) to movies, and hopefully to encourage some of the rest of you to take a look at a probably unfamiliar source of entertainment that I truly love. If you want more info on OTR, and some examples of the variety of shows that were made, be sure to check out this introductory post.

Abbott-Costello-Ad-47-04-27-tbI know I said (or at least hinted) last week that I’d be looking this week at a completely different show, but, inspired by this past weekend’s posts about Abbott and Costello’s movies, I figured I’d go ahead and take a look at the boys’ long running radio show.

Bud and Lou first appeared on the radio in 1938 as guests on The Kate Smith Hour. They wound up getting a regular slot on the show, where they stayed for two years before eventually being given their own show, which was intended as a summer replacement for the Fred Allen Show. Once that show had run its course, the boys moved to The Chase and Sanborn Hour, where they appeared alongside Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. Finally, in 1942, Camel cigarettes agreed to sponsor a regular show starring the duo, and on October 9, 1942, The Abbott and Costello Show had its premiere.

Like most comedy shows of the time, the Abbot and Costello Show featured various setups each week which were basically reasons either for the pair to break into variations on their vaudeville routines or to showcase the talents of their guest stars; however unlike many other shows on the air, there was much less reliance on bringing in other stars. Instead, the show built up a fairly regular repertory company who would perform as various characters (some regular, others not) as needed. Also, the show would feature musical interludes performed by a variety of vocalists accompanied by an in-house orchestra which had a number of leaders through the years.

abbott_costello-d00c552a9c6932be43e89b39f44d0b50e3b6aa7a-s2To be honest, though, unlike a program such as The Jack Benny Program, which was much more of an ensemble show, there was no doubt who the stars of this show were, and with the quick wit and fast-paced word play that were a trademark of Abbott and Costello comedy (let’s be honest, as soon as you mention A&C to most people, the first thing that’s going to come to mind, assuming they know who the duo are in the first place, is likely to be “Who’s On First”), they were easily able to hold the focus both of the in-studio audience, and the much larger one listening at home.

The show lasted until 1949, and not long thereafter, the boys began development on a weekly series for television which would premiere in 1951.

Okay, that’s enough words from me. Now here are some from the duo themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s The Abbott and Costello Show!

As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip into radio’s past, and today’s focus on The Abbott and Costello Show. And next week… well, next week we’ll actually be taking a look at another famous, though very (VERY!) different Hollywood duo who we’ll find striking out on a very Bold Venture.

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One comment on “Old Time Radio Thursdays – #004: The Abbott and Costello Show (1942-1949)

  1. Michael Laws says:

    Just thought I’d mention for those who are enjoying these OTR Thursday posts that Aurora over at Once Upon a Screen (and one of the co-hosts of the Dynamic Duos blogathon) just posted an article featuring Barbara Stanwyk and Ginger Rogers (who share a July 16th birthday) and focuses on some of their appearances on the radio. You can find that post here: http://aurorasginjoint.com/2013/07/16/barbara-stanwyck-ginger-rogers-radio-mash-up/#comment-3183 . Go on over and take a look and give the lady a little of that moosey love. She’s doing some good things over there.

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