Abbott & Costello are a legendary comedy duo but their strained partnership came to an end thanks to a silly Errol Flynn prank.
Here’s how a silly Errol Flynn prank pushed the already tense Abbott & Costello comedy partnership to breaking point. Errol Flynn first became a star thanks to his insanely charismatic turn in 1938’s The Adventures Of Robin Hood. This technicolor adventure still holds up thanks to a witty script and great performances. The movie’s $2 million dollar budget was considered extravagant at the time, but it turned a nice profit for Warner Bros.
Errol Flynn’s movie stardom would soon become overshadowed by his legendary partying lifestyle, and he was rarely out of the press due to his heavy drinking and many love affairs. Like Tom Cruise would become famous for performing many of his own stunts on the likes of the Mission: Impossible series, Flynn was known for doing much of his own action sequences. His intense lifestyle started to take a toll on his health, however, so by the time of production on 1948’s Adventures Of Don Juan – which was billed as his swashbuckling comeback – he needed doubles. The latter film was a hit, but constant delays caused by his drinking and even needing to be hospitalized caused the budget to swell. The actor still continued to work steadily until his death at the age of 50 in 1959.
In keeping with his hellraising reputation, Errol Flynn was known as a prankster, something which would prove fatal to the Abbott & Costello partnership. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were a comedy team that was insanely popular during the 1940s and they made classic movies like Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, which saw the Universal monsters crossing over long before the Dark Universe’s failed attempt. Despite their shared success, they weren’t really friends, and reportedly barely spoke to one another outside of work. Their popularity declined in the 1950s, and Flynn would later take credit for pulling a prank that would finally snap their strained relationship.
In Flynn’s autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways – which would be published shortly after his death – he recalled inviting Abbott, Costello and their families over to his house for a nice dinner. Afterwards they gathered to watch a home movie, which turned out to be pornography. Flynn played dumb, and the horrified Abbott and Costello would end up blaming each other for the movie being shown.
It’s unlikely this was the sole reason Abbott & Costello formally ended their partnership in 1957 but the timeline suggests Errol Flynn might be right in taking credit for causing the split. Costello would pass away shortly after in 1959, while Abbott would continue to work, but he latter split from a new comedy partner, stating nobody else could live up to Costello.
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Abbott & Costello Complete Series