In honor of one of the many burlesque performers who came to Lake Hopatcong for a summer getaway, the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum hosted an Abbott and Costello festival on September 8 and 9 at the Growing Stage theater.
Of the many visitors of Lake Hopatcong, Bud Abbott spent four summers in Northwood, which was also known as the “Actor’s Colony.” Abbott lived right alongside other great performers in Lake Hopatcong history such as Miss Lotta, Jim Cook, and Uncle Miltey. These and many more performers typically rented low-cost, bungalow-type houses during the summer and spent time with their family after long trips around the country performing.
Fans of Abbott and Costello came from the Lake Hopatcong region as well as from several other states to join in on the festival’s activities. The festival started with a showing of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein on Friday night and continued with a double feature of The Time of Their Lives and Hold That Ghost on Saturday afternoon. These films were some of Abbott and Costello’s biggest hits.
Saturday evening was the Museum’s most anticipated event. Chris Costello, the youngest daughter of Lou Costello, came to meet fans of her father’s work, answer questions, and sign memorabilia. Abbott and Costello impressionists Gil Palmer and Lou Sciara, who have been mimicking the comedy duo’s most popular routines for almost 25 years, performed a few of their sketches, including “Who’s on First” and the magic act.
Palmer and Sciara have performed in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and even at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in front of 27,000 people. They had been huge fans of Abbott and Costello from a young age and were happy to be able to perform at the festival, especially in the presence of Costello’s daughter.
Chris Costello was excited to be there to talk about her father’s legacy. She gave the audience a peek into her father’s personal life as a quiet, protective parent who acted very differently from the roles he performed. Lou Costello was a very generous and giving man as well, especially after his son died in a drowning accident.
Lou Costello started the Lou Costello Jr. Youth Foundation, which was a place for children to get off the streets and go to the foundation for recreation, health services, and most importantly, to learn how to swim.
Chris said, “My father had made many people laugh, but he made them feel safe, too. In his eyes, money wasn’t meant to be spent at his house. It was meant to be spent on others.” Chris hopes that people remember him for his humanitarian efforts as much as his comedic performances.
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