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March 11, 1895
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
|November 22, 1955 60) (aged
| Home of Peace Cemetery
East Los Angeles, California
|The Three Stooges
| Moe Howard (brother)
Curly Howard (brother)
Joan Howard Maurer (niece)
Shemp Howard (born Samuel Horwitz; March 11, 1895 [ citation needed ]– November 22, 1955), was an American comedian and actor. He was called "Shemp" because "Sam" came out that way in his mother's thick Litvak accent.
He is best known as the third Stooge in the Three Stooges, a role he played when the act began in the early 1920s (1923–1932), while it was still associated with Ted Healy and known as "Ted Healy and his Stooges"; and again from 1946 until his death in 1955. During the fourteen years between his times with the Stooges, he had a successful solo career as a film comedian, including a series of shorts by himself and with partners. He reluctantly returned to the Stooges as a favor to his brother Moe and friend Larry Fine to replace his brother Curly as the third Stooge after Curly's illness.
Howard was born Samuel Horwitz on March 11, 1895 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York City.He was the third of five Horwitz brothers born to Lithuanian Jewish parents Solomon Horwitz (1872–1943) and Jennie Horwitz (1870–1939). He had two older brothers, Irving (1891–1939) and Benjamin (Jack) (1893–1976). His two younger brothers were Moses (Moe) Howard (1897–1975) and Jerome (Curly) Howard (1903–1952).
Howard's first name, Shmuel, after his grandfather,[ citation needed ] was anglicized to Samuel, and his parents and brothers usually called him Sam.[ citation needed ]
Shemp's brother Moe Howard started in show business as a youngster, on stage and in films. Moe and Shemp eventually tried their hands as minstrel-show-style "blackface" comedians with an act they called "Howard and Howard –A Study in Black". At the same time, they worked for a rival vaudeville circuit, without makeup.[ citation needed ]
By 1922, Moe had teamed up with his boyhood friend Ted Healy in a "roughhouse" act. One day Moe spotted his brother Shemp in the audience and yelled at him from the stage. Quick-witted Shemp yelled right back, and walked up onto the stage. From then on he was part of the act, usually known as "Ted Healy and His Stooges". The Howard brothers were the original Stooges; Larry Fine joined them in 1928. [ citation needed ]On stage, Healy sang and told jokes while his three noisy stooges got in his way, and Healy retaliated with physical and verbal abuse. Shemp played a bumbling fireman in the Stooges' first film, Soup to Nuts (1930), the only film where he played one of Healy's gang.
After a disagreement with Healy in August 1930, Moe, Larry and Shemp left to launch their own act, "Howard, Fine & Howard", and joined the RKO vaudeville circuit. They premiered at Los Angeles's Paramount Theatre on August 28, 1930. In 1931 they added "Three Lost Soles" to the act's name, and took on Jack Walsh as their straight man. Moe, Larry and Shemp continued until July 1932, when Ted Healy approached them to team up again for the Shuberts' Broadway revue "Passing Show of 1932", and they accepted the offer. In spite of their past differences, Moe knew an association with the nationally known Healy would provide opportunities the three comics were not getting on their own.[ citation needed ]
On August 16, 1932, in a contract dispute, Healy walked out of the Shuberts' revue during rehearsals. Three days later, tired of what he considered Healy's domineering handling of the Stooges' career, Shemp left Healy's act to remain with "Passing Show", which closed in September during roadshow performances and after pan reviews in Detroit and Cincinnati. Shemp regrouped to form his own act and played on the road for a few months. He landed at Brooklyn's Vitaphone Studios for movie appearance opportunities in May 1933. When he split from Healy, Shemp was immediately replaced by his and Moe's younger brother Jerry Howard, known as Curly.
Shemp Howard, like many New York City-based performers, found work at Vitaphone. Originally playing bit roles in their Roscoe Arbuckle comedies, showing off his comical appearance, he was given speaking roles and supporting parts almost immediately. He was featured with studio comics Jack Haley, Ben Blue and Gus Shy; then co-starred with Harry Gribbon, Daphne Pollard, and Johnnie Berkes, and finally starred in his own two-reel comedies.[ citation needed ] The independently produced Convention Girl (1935) featured Shemp in a very rare straight role as a blackmailer and would-be murderer.[ citation needed ]
Shemp preferred to improvise dialogue and jokes, which became his trademark. In late 1935, Vitaphone was licensed to produce short comedies based on the "Joe Palooka" comic strip. Shemp was cast as "Knobby Walsh", and though only a supporting character, he became the comic focus of the series, with Johnnie Berkes and Lee Weber as his foils. He co-starred in the first seven shorts, released in 1936–1937. Nine of them were produced, the last two done after Shemp's departure from Vitaphone.[ citation needed ]
Howard unsuccessfully attempted to lead his own group of "stooges" in the Van Beuren musical comedy short The Knife of the Party . In 1937 he followed his brothers' lead, moved to the West Coast, and landed supporting actor roles at several studios, mainly Columbia Pictures and Universal. He worked exclusively at Universal from August 1940 to August 1943, performing with such comics as W. C. Fields, and with comedy duos Abbott and Costello and Olsen and Johnson. He lent comic relief to Charlie Chan and The Thin Man murder mysteries. He appeared in several Universal B-musicals of the early 1940s, including Private Buckaroo (1942), Strictly in the Groove (1942), How's About It? (1943), Moonlight and Cactus (1944) and San Antonio Rose (1941); in the latter of which he was paired with Lon Chaney Jr. as a faux Abbott and Costello. Most of these projects took advantage of his improvisational skills. When Broadway comedian Frank Fay walked out on a series of feature films teaming him with Billy Gilbert, Gilbert called on his closest friend, Shemp Howard, to replace him in three B-comedy features for Monogram Pictures, filmed in 1944–45. He also played a few serious parts, such as his supporting role in Pittsburgh (1942), starring Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne.[ citation needed ]
From 1938 to 1940 and again from 1944 to 1946, Howard appeared in Columbia's two-reel comedies, co-starring with Columbia regulars Andy Clyde, The Glove Slingers, El Brendel, and Tom Kennedy. He was given his own starring series in 1944. He was working for Columbia in this capacity when his brother Curly was felled by a debilitating stroke on May 6, 1946. Curly had already suffered a series of strokes prior to the filming of If a Body Meets a Body (1945), and in January 1945 Shemp filled in for Curly at a week-long appearance at the St. Charles Theatre in New Orleans.[ citation needed ]
Shemp agreed to fill in for Curly in Columbia's popular Stooge shorts, knowing that if he refused, Moe and Larry would be out of work. [ citation needed ]He intended to stay only until Curly recovered, which never happened as Curly's health continued to worsen. Curly died on January 18, 1952, at the age of 48. Shemp agreed to remain with the group permanently.
Shemp's role as the third Stooge was much different from Curly's. His characterization was more relaxed as opposed to Curly's energetic persona. Unlike Curly, who had many distinct mannerisms, Shemp's most notable characteristic as a Stooge was a high-pitched "bee-bee-bee-bee-bee-bee!" sound, a sort of soft screech done by inhaling. It was a multipurpose effect: he emitted this sound when scared, sleeping (done as a form of snoring), overtly happy, or dazed. It became his trademark sound as the "nyuk nyuk" sound had become Curly's. Because of his established solo career, he was also given opportunities in the films to do some of his own comic routines.[ citation needed ]
During this period, The Three Stooges ventured into live television appearances, beginning on Tuesday, October 19, 1948, with Milton Berle on his Texaco Star Theatre program.
Shemp appeared with Moe and Larry in 77 short subjects, four of which were produced posthumously using stock footage. The trio also made the feature film Gold Raiders (1951). Shemp suffered a mild stroke in November 1952, but recovered within weeks. The medical episode had no noticeable effect on his remaining films with the Stooges, many of which were remakes of earlier films that also used recycled footage to reduce costs.[ citation needed ]
In September 1925, Shemp married Gertrude Frank (1905–1982). They had one child, Morton (1927–1972).[ citation needed ]
Shemp had several phobias, including of airplanes, automobiles, dogs, and water. According to Moe's autobiography, Shemp was involved in a driving accident as a teenager and never obtained a driver's license.
On November 22, 1955, Shemp went out with associates Al Winston and Bobby Silverman to a boxing match, one of Shemp's favorite pastimes,[ citation needed ] at the Hollywood Legion Stadium. While returning home in a taxi that evening, Shemp died of a massive heart attack, at the age of 60.
Moe's autobiography gives a death date of November 23, 1955, which became the date cited by other accounts. Much of that book was finished posthumously by his daughter and son-in-law, and some details were confused.[ further explanation needed ] The Los Angeles County Coroner's death certificate states that Shemp Howard died on Tuesday, November 22, 1955, at 11:35 [PM] PST. Howard's obituary appeared in the November 23 afternoon editions of Los Angeles newspapers, citing the death on the night of November 22.
Shemp Howard is interred in a crypt in the Indoor Mausoleum at the Home of Peace Cemetery in East Los Angeles. His younger brother Curly is also interred there, in an outdoor tomb in the Western Jewish Institute section, as well as his parents Solomon and Jennie Horwitz and older brother Benjamin "Jack".[ citation needed ]
The Three Stooges earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine Street on August 30, 1983.
Columbia had promised exhibitors eight Three Stooges comedies for 1956, but only four were completed at the time of Shemp Howard's death. To fulfill the contract, producer Jules White filmed four more shorts posthumously by reusing old footage of Howard with new connecting scenes played by a body double, longtime Stooge supporting actor, Joe Palma, who is seen mostly from the back. He came to be known by Stooge fans as the "Fake Shemp", a term which director Sam Raimi later coined in reference to any body double replacing an actor.[ citation needed ]
The re-edited films are often regarded as inferior. Rumpus in the Harem borrows from Malice in the Palace , Hot Stuff from Fuelin' Around , and Commotion on the Ocean from Dunked in the Deep ; all of which were originally released in 1949, then rereleased in 1956. The best-received and most technically accomplished is Scheming Schemers (1956), combining new footage with recycled clips from three old Stooge shorts: A Plumbing We Will Go (1940), Half-Wits Holiday (1947) and Vagabond Loafers (1949).
When it was time to renew the Stooges's contract, Columbia hired comedian Joe Besser to replace Shemp. Columbia discontinued filming new Stooge short subject comedies in December 1957, releasing the last new short in June 1959, but kept the series going into the 1960s by reissuing Shemp's Stooge shorts to theaters. This, as well as a TV release of Stooge shorts, allowed Shemp Howard to remain a popular star for long after he died.[ citation needed ]
In the television biopic The Three Stooges (2000), Shemp Howard was portrayed by John Kassir.
The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy team active from 1922 until 1970, best remembered for their 190 short-subject films by Columbia Pictures. Their hallmark styles were physical, farce, and slapstick. Six Stooges appeared over the act's run : Moe Howard and Larry Fine were mainstays throughout the ensemble's nearly 50-year run; the pivotal "third stooge" was played by Shemp Howard, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard again, Joe Besser, and "Curly Joe" DeRita.
Ted Healy was an American vaudeville performer, comedian, and actor. Though he is chiefly remembered as the creator of The Three Stooges and the style of slapstick comedy that they later made famous, he had a successful stage and film career of his own and was cited as a formative influence by several later comedy stars.
Moses Harry Horwitz, better known by his stage name Moe Howard, was an American comedian and actor. He is best known as the leader of the Three Stooges, the farce comedy team who starred in motion pictures and television for four decades. That group initially started out as Ted Healy and His Stooges, an act that toured the vaudeville circuit. Moe's distinctive hairstyle came about when he was a boy and cut off his curls with a pair of scissors, producing an irregular shape approximating a bowl cut.
Louis Feinberg, better known by his stage name Larry Fine, was an American comedian, actor, and musician. He is best known as a member of the comedy act the Three Stooges and was often called "The Middle Stooge".
Jerome Lester Horwitz, better known by his stage name Curly Howard, was an American comedian and actor. He was as a member of the comedy team The Three Stooges, which also featured his elder brothers Moe and Shemp Howard, as well as actor Larry Fine. In early shorts, he was billed as Curley. Curly Howard was generally considered the most popular and recognizable of the Stooges.
Joseph Wardell, known professionally as Joe DeRita, was an American actor and comedian, who is best known for his stint as a member of The Three Stooges in the persona of Curly Joe DeRita.
Joe Besser was an American actor, comedian, and musician, known for his impish humor and wimpy characters. He is best known for his brief stint as a member of The Three Stooges in movie short subjects of 1957–59. He is also remembered for his television roles: Stinky, the bratty man-child on The Abbott and Costello Show, and Jillson, the maintenance man on The Joey Bishop Show.
Hold That Lion! is a 1947 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 100th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Emil Sitka was an American actor who appeared in hundreds of movies, short films, and television shows, and who is best known for his numerous appearances with The Three Stooges. He was the unofficial "last Stooge", since he was tapped to be the new middle Stooge when Larry Fine suffered a stroke in 1970. He is one of only two actors to have worked with all six Stooges on film in the various incarnations of the group.
This is a complete list of short subjects and feature films that featured The Three Stooges released between 1930 and 1970.
A Plumbing We Will Go is a 1940 short subject directed by Del Lord starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 46th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Malice in the Palace is a 1949 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 117th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Disorder in the Court is a 1936 short subject directed by Preston Black starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 15th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Vernon Bruce Dent was an American comic actor, who appeared in over 400 films. He co-starred in many short films for Columbia Pictures, frequently as the foil, main antagonist, and an ally to The Three Stooges.
Who Done It? is a 1949 short subject directed by Edward Bernds starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 114th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Joe Palma was an American film actor. Palma appeared in over 120 films between 1937 and 1968. He was well known as a supporting player for The Three Stooges and his brief tenure as a body double to member Shemp Howard for four shorts produced after Shemp's death, which led to the coining of the term "Fake Shemp".
Scheming Schemers is a 1956 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 173rd entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Fright Night is a 1947 short subject directed by Edward Bernds starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 98th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
Cuckoo on a Choo Choo is a 1952 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 143rd entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
The Three Stooges is an American biographical comedy television film about the slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges directed by James Frawley. The film was entirely shot in Sydney, Australia. It was broadcast on ABC on April 24, 2000.
Shemp Howard, 60, veteran stage and screen comedian and one of 'The Three Stooges,' died Tuesday of a heart attack.