“Who’s On First” – Abbott & Costello – Brilliant…!

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Abbott and Costello

“Who’s on First”


Lou Costello was born Louis Francis Cristillo on March 6, 1906, in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of Helen Rege and Sebastiano Cristillo. 

His father was Italian (from Caserta, Italy) and his mother was an American of French, Irish,and Italian ancestry. He attended School 15 in Paterson and was considered a gifted athlete. He excelled in basketball and reportedly was once the New Jersey state free throw champion (his singular basketball prowess can be seen in Here Come the Co-Eds (1945), in which he performs all his own tricky hoop shots without special effects). He also fought as a boxer under the name “Lou King”. He took his professional name from actress Helene Costello.

Abbott and Costello

On June 26, 1992, the city of Paterson, New Jersey, in conjunction with the Lou Costello Memorial Association, erected a statue of Costello in the newly named Lou Costello Memorial Park in the city’s historic downtown section. It shows Lou Costello holding a baseball bat, a reference to the team’s most famous routine, “Who’s on First?”. The statue has had brief appearances in two episodes of The Sopranos: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Cold Stones”. The statue and the “Who’s on First?” routine also featured in the 2016 film Paterson. In 2005, Madison Street, in the Sandy Hill section of Paterson, where Lou Costello was born, was renamed Lou Costello Place.


Who’s on First

The centennial of Costello’s birth was celebrated in Paterson on the first weekend in March 2006. From June 24 to June 26, 2006, the Fort Lee Film Commission held a centennial film retrospective at the Fine Arts Theatre in Hollywood. Films screened included the premiere of a digital film made by the teenagers of the present day Lou Costello Jr. Recreation Center in East Los Angeles. Also premiered was a 35 mm restored print of the Lou Costello-produced 1948 short film 10,000 Kids and a Cop, which was shot at the Lou Costello, Jr. Youth Center in East Los Angeles.


Who’s on First

In 2009, Costello was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.


“Who’s on First?” is believed to be available in as many as twenty versions, ranging from one minute to up to ten minutes. The team could time the routine at will, adding or deleting portions as needed for films, radio or television.

The longest version is seen in “The Actors’ Home” episode of their filmed TV series, running approximately eight minutes. A live performance commemorating the opening day of the Lou Costello Jr Youth Foundation in 1947 was recorded, and has been included in numerous comedy albums.

The team’s final performance of “Who’s on First?” on TV was on Steve Allen’s variety show in 1957.

From You Tube – Info from Wiki


Abbott and Costello performed “Who’s on First?” numerous times in their careers, rarely performing it exactly the same way twice.

They did the routine for President Franklin Roosevelt several times. An abridged version was featured in the team’s 1940 film debut, One Night in the Tropics. The duo reprised the bit in their 1945 film The Naughty Nineties, and it is that longer version which is considered their finest recorded rendition. 

They also performed “Who’s on First?” numerous times on radio and television (notably in The Abbott and Costello Show episode “The Actor’s Home”, widely considered the definitive version).

In 1956, a gold record of “Who’s on First?” was placed in the Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown. A video (taken from The Naughty Nineties) plays continuously on screens at the Hall.

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