Lou Costello (March 6, 1906 – March 3, 1959) 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.
Lou Costello was born Louis Francis Cristillo in Paterson, New Jersey to an Italian father and a mother of French and Irish descent. The family was Catholic. A gifted athlete, he excelled in basketball and reportedly was once the New Jersey State Foul Shot champion. (His singular basketball prowess can be seen on film, in Here Come The Co-Eds (1945), in which Lou performs all his own tricky hoop shots without special effects.) He also fought as a boxer under the name "Lou King." He changed his name to Costello based on the actress Helene Costello. "There was a girl named Helene Costello, and I took her name".
In 1927 he 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 led him to occasional work as a stunt man, notably in The Trail of '98, (1927). He can also be spotted sitting ringside in the Laurel and Hardy film The Battle of the Century (1927).