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Howard, Moe, Shemp, and Curly


HOWARD, MOE, SHEMP, and CURLY (Moses Horwitz , 1897–1975; Samuel Horwitz , 1895–1955; and Jerome Horwitz , 1903–1952), U.S. actors/comedians. The Brothers Howard, later known as the Three Stooges, were born in Brooklyn, New York and raised by their parents, real estate entrepreneur Jennie Horwitz and clothing cutter Solomon Horwitz. The evolution of the Three Stooges can be traced back to the vaudeville partnership between Moe and his childhood friend Ted Healy. Healy would perform on stage while Moe harassed him from the audience until slapstick chaos ensued. Shemp soon joined the act and, in 1925, they recruited a violinist by the name of Larry Fine to form Ted Healy & His Stooges. The act proved a tremendous success. They first made their Broadway debut in Earl Carrol's Vanities and then their Hollywood debut in the 1930s Soup to Nuts. Soon thereafter, Shemp left the group to pursue a solo career and the vacancy was filled by the youngest Howard, Curly, whose contribution to the team was invaluable. From 1934 to 1970 the comic trio churned out over 190 short films and 13 features for Columbia. Characterized by slapstick mayhem, the films featured Moe as the group's abusive boss, Larry as the sycophantic middleman, and Curly as the unwitting patsy. In 1946, Curly suffered a debilitating stroke and was replaced by his brother, Shemp, who performed with the troupe until his death in 1955. Although the studio brought in Joe De Rita to fill Curly's shoes, The Stooges were fading by the late 1950s. In 1959, Columbia released the old Stooges shorts on television to a new generation of fans and the group experienced a full-fledged comeback, allowing the act to continue until 1970, when Larry suffered a stroke that left him incapacitated and led to Moe's retirement.

[Max Joseph (2nd ed.)]

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