Louis Francis "Lou" Costello was an American actor and comedian best known as half of the comedy team of Abbott and Costello, with Bud Abbott. Costello was famous for his bumbling, chubby, clean-cut image that has appealed to many Americans over the decades, and for his shouted line of "HEEEEYYY ABBOTT!!."
Lou Costello was born Louis Francis Cristillo in Paterson, New Jersey to an Italian father from Calabria, and a mother of French and Irish ancestry. He attended School 15 in Paterson, NJ and was considered a gifted athlete. He excelled in basketball and reportedly was once the New Jersey state foul shot champion. He also fought as a boxer under the name "Lou King". He took his professional name from actress Helene Costello. "There was a girl named Helene Costello, and I took her name".
In 1927, Costello went to Hollywood to become an actor - but could only find work as a laborer or extra at MGM and Warner Brothers. His athletic skill brought him occasional work as a stunt man, notably in The Trail of '98,. He can also be spotted sitting ringside in the Laurel and Hardy film The Battle of the Century. In 1930, discouraged by his lack of success, he hitchhiked back home but ran out of money in Saint Joseph, Missouri during the Great Depression. He took a job as a Dutch-accented comic at a local burlesque theater. Changing his name to "Costello", he went back to New York and began working in vaudeville and burlesque theaters there.