Joe Kirk IS Mr. Bacciagalupe

Buon compleanno, Joe Kirk (Ignazio Curcuruto, 1903-1975)! The son of Sicilian immigrants, Kirk started out as a vaudeville comedian and emcee in the 1930s. His most fortuitous career move, however, may have been marriying Lou Costello’s sister Marie. Kirk was a regular on Abbott and Costello’s radio (1940-49) and tv programs (1952-54) and in most of the movies movies, starting with Rio Rita (1942) and ending with Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953). On the radio and tv shows he played Mr. Bacciagalupe, a comically stereotypical Italian man, who usually had some job like ice cream vendor or pizza man, speaking in a borad accent and breaking into Italian under his breath when he was upset. He also played bit parts in numerous films of the Bowery Boys and Bob Hope . Abbott and Costello formally broke up in 1957; the Bowery Boys series ended in 1958. Kirk’s career didn’t long outlive those franchises. He retired in 1960, although he returned for one last walk-on role in I’ll Take Sweden (1965) with Bob Hope.

For more on classic comedy please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube,