Abbott & Costello

The Baseball Hall of Fame has a gold-plated recording of Abbott & Costello performing their best-known routine, “Who’s on First?” in which a befuddled Costello asks Abbott about the peculiarly-named players of a baseball team. Who is the first baseman, What plays second, I Don’t Know is the third baseman, and the shortstop is named I Don’t Give a Darn.

Straight man William “Bud” Abbott came from a circus family. In 1936 he teamed up with Lou Costello (nee Cristillo), a fellow burlesque performer who had been a Hollywood stunt man. Their early radio success on the “Kate Smith Show” led to a program of their own and (beginning in 1940) a film career of 38 Grade-B movies. By the time they had a TV series in the early 1950s, their act had gone stale and the two comedians had developed a strong mutual antipathy.