Italian American comedian Louis Francis Cristillo was born on March 6, 1906, in Paterson, New Jersey. Growing up, Lou was a gifted athlete and played a number of sports in high school. His passion? Acting. Lou grew up admiring silent films and actors, especially the work of Charlie Chaplin. When he was 21, he moved to Hollywood and began to work as a stuntman where he adopted the professional name “Costello” after famed silent film actress Helene Costello. His career was short lived as he sustained an injury that prevented him from continuing to work as a stuntperson. Lou decided to move to New York City and joined the vaudeville circuit performing as a comedian.
It was on one of those circuits that Lou met a fellow comedian named Bud Abbott. The two joined forces and changed the face of comedy forever. The comedy team’s career began to take off in 1942 with their radio program The Abbott and Costello Show. They made the move to film and television and continued to perform in over 50 television episodes and 36 films. In 1956, the two decided to end their work relationship. Lou hoped to broaden his film roles and worked in more dramatic projects. On March 3, 1959, he passed away from a heart attack. Lou Costello’s comedic style lives on today with adults and children alike debating who, exactly, is on first: