In the past, I have touched on my fascination of old movies, especially old comedies. In many of my stories I have filtered in comments relating to some of the classic comedians of the last century including Charlies Chaplin, The Three Stooges, and of course, Abbott & Costello.
As a young boy, I watched several classic movies that aired on television and before the advent of DVR/VCRs, you could only watch the movie when it was being shown. Sometimes, a particular movie you wanted to see might only air once a year…and usually at a time which was never convenient such as in the middle of the night! In my case, that meant my local television stations would air The Three Stooges at 4:30pm and 11:00pm during the week and Abbott & Costello were always on each Sunday starting at 8:30am.
During my earlier years, I was especially fascinated by watching Abbott & Costello. I couldn’t get enough of watching their movies. I knew all the dialogue and as most diehard fans would attest, I would wait for my local station to schedule Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. The TV Guide would only show a week in advance and I used to (this is true) call the television station and ask them what the Abbott & Costello movie line up was for the month. Can you imagine calling a television station today with that type of request? Since there was no ability to record the movie for future playback, I would put my audio cassette recorder up to the speaker and record the audio of each of their films and play it back, imaging the scene as if I was listening to a radio show. The more I watched their movies, the more I became memorized by their antics and comedy. Ah, my youth!
Eventually, this passion of watching their films turned into my first real hobby – collecting Abbott & Costello movie memorabilia. In the days prior to the Internet, you could only find rare and original movie memorabilia in unique movie memorabilia stores like Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Material Store and Movie Star News or potentially at a memorabilia/comic book show.
My first taste of collecting memorabilia started with 8×10 glossy movie photographs (stills) at around ten years old…. by accident! Through a series of connections between contacting my local television station and my correspondence getting funneled up the chain, I was able to meet Lou Costello’s middle daughter, Carole. You could probably imagine my excitement as a fan of her fathers that she not only received my letter, but responded to me! She not only replied and sent me a couple of photos she had in her personal possession, but she connected me to her younger sister, Chris, who at the time owned her own public relations firms and recently finished writing a biography on her father. (Side bar: if you haven’t read the book, its excellent and you can buy a copy by clicking here). This began a pen pal relationship which lasted a number of years – the lost art of writing letters. I would send her questions and she was so kind to reply back to me. I kept all her letters after all these years. The anticipation of going to the mailbox and waiting for a light blue envelope and her personalized stationary was the highlight of that day. 40 years later, I still stay in touch with Chris and she has done a fantastic job keeping the memory of her father and Bud Abbott alive.
After receiving those pictures, I wanted to collect more and eventually I discovered the world of collecting original movie poster material. These are the posters that were used to promote the movie in the theaters. They came in different sizes and were very artistic and colorful.
Today, I have a great collection of these original posters, many of which are framed and on my walls, others are stored for safe keeping. My photo stills are in books, categorized and in safe keeping. I might expand on this hobby in a future post.
Never did I collect for the purpose of re-selling or making it a business venture, it was just a fun hobby, a hobby that I owe gratitude to the Costello family for that first 8×10 still.