Among the many celebrities who frequented the Lake Hopatcong area during the height of its popularity as a resort was Bud Abbott, just prior to teaming with Lou Costello to form arguably America’s most popular and successful comedy team of the 1940s and ’50s.
The comedy of Abbott and Costello will be brought back to life at a film festival hosted by the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum on Friday, Sept. 8, and Saturday, Sept. 9, at the historic Palace Theatre, 7 Ledgewood Ave., Netcong.
“Because of Lake Hopatcong’s unique status as a resort, there were many entertainers and other interesting people who visited or summered here,” said Marty Kane, president of the LHHM. “Over the past several years we’ve presented programs on such former residents and visitors as Lotta Crabtree, Joe Cook, Owen McGiveney, and Thomas Edison.”
The weekend event will feature three classic Abbott and Costello movies. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein will be shown Friday, Sept. 8, at 8 p.m. A double feature, with The Time of Their Lives and Hold That Ghost will be shown Saturday, Sept. 9, at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., respectively.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) is one of their most successful films, prompting four subsequent monster-meeting productions. The Time of Their Lives (1946) features ghosts in a post-Revolutionary War romance. Hold That Ghost (1941) was inspired by the duo’s moving-candle routine, which critics widely considered their best.
Despite the duo’s past status, Kane noted, “Abbott and Costello’s fame has faded, with today’s youth being generally less familiar with their work. We hope to change that with this film festival.”
Chris Costello, the daughter of Lou Costello, will be on hand Saturday evening to talk about family life with her father, field questions from the audience and sign memorabilia.
“Chris Costello was very receptive to the idea when we contacted her last summer,” said Kane. “She mentioned, right away, how many Abbott & Costello fans live in this area, so we’re looking forward to her visit.”
A live performance of the classic “Who’s on First” sketch will also be staged Saturday evening by professional Abbott & Costello impressionists Gil Palmer and Lou Sciara, who have been mimicking the comedy duo’s most popular routines for nearly 25 years. The Saturday event will be at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:30 p.m.
Separate-admission movie tickets, available in advance or at the door, are $10, $5 for children under 18. Tickets for the Saturday evening program are $25. A weekend pass, for full access to all movies and programs, is $40, $30 for children under 18. Refreshments will be available.