Curly Howard Was One of the Most Beloved Members of the Three Stooges - ReelRundown - Entertainment
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Curly Howard Was One of the Most Beloved Members of the Three Stooges

Readmikenow enjoys writing about unique and interesting people. He likes to learn about individuals who live or have lived unusual lives.

Curly Howard

Curly Howard

Lester Horowitz's desire to enter the world of show business started as a young child. He would regularly watch his older brothers Moe and Shemp perform comedy routines as part of vaudeville legend Ted Healy's stage act. After a period of time, Shemp decided to leave Healy's act. Moe suggested to Healy his younger brother Lester would be an excellent replacement for Shemp. After a long audition, Lester Horwitz was hired by Ted Healy. Lester Horowitz then became Curly Howard, and his entertainment career began.


Early Life

The future Curly Howard was born on October 22, 1903, in Brooklyn, New York. He was the youngest of five boys. Since he was the youngest, all his brothers would tease him by calling him “Babe.” His older brother Shemp married a woman named Gertrude Frank. Her nickname was also “Babe.” So as to avoid confusing the two people, his brothers started calling him “Curly.” Curly Howard was known for being quiet as a child. He wasn't good at academics but was an impressive athlete. Howard was a stand-out on his high school basketball team. Howard didn't finish high school. He preferred to get paid to do odd jobs. Howard was also a huge success when it came to ballroom dancing and singing. He idolized his older brothers and would often follow them to their rehearsals and vaudeville performances.


Exaggerated Walk

At the age of 12, Curly was cleaning a rifle and accidentally shot himself. His brother Moe got him to the hospital in time to save his life. After he was healed, the accident left Curly with a slight limp because he had a thinner left leg. Curly was terrified to have surgery. He refused to have an operation that would have corrected his limp. In order to hide the limp on screen or in front of an audience, Curly developed his famous exaggerated walk.


Early picture of Three Stooges comedy group. Curly Howard on the far right.

Early picture of Three Stooges comedy group. Curly Howard on the far right.

Audition

When Shemp left, and Moe suggested his younger brother Curly replace him, Ted Healy had his doubts. Curly had thick chestnut hair and an athletic build. His mustache was elegantly waxed, and Healy believed Curly looked too handsome and didn't appear to be funny. Curly asked for another chance. He left the room, and when Curly came back, he had shaved his head. Curly began doing some of the things he and his brothers did to one another when they were growing up. He then said to Ted Healy and his assistant, “Boy, don't you two look girlie.” They all agreed Curly would be the perfect name for the character he had created.


Three Stooges

Curly Howard was hired to perform with his brothers in Ted Healy's show. That year, Curly and his brothers left Ted Healy and created the stage name “Three Stooges.” They then signed to be in comedy shorts films for Columbia Pictures. They became the most popular comedy short film attraction for the movie studio. All the brothers agreed, their little brother Curly was a big part of their success.

Curly Howard performing

Curly Howard performing

Exceptional Comedic Skills

Curly Howard had no formal training when it came to acting. He had a natural comedic charm. Curly's unique ways of doing things made him very popular with audiences. Children especially liked things he did on stage and in film. His trademark was having a head that could not be damaged by anything. When he was in character, Curly would often keep going when the scene was complete. It was common for movie directors to keep the film cameras rolling as Curly would improvise in different situations. When there was a scene that needed something special, they knew Curly Howard could create something and make it funny.


Personal Life

When he was not performing, Curly Howard was quiet and kept to himself. He was known for being an introvert. Unless he had a sufficient number of drinks, Curly did not like to socialize. He began to have problems with his older brother Moe. Curly never did funny things unless he was performing, intoxicated or with only his brothers. Curly Howard got married on June 7, 1937. His wife's name was Elaine Ackerman. The year after their marriage, the couple had their only child; a daughter they named Marilyn. During June of 1940, the couple divorced. Curly then gained a substantial amount of weight. His health began to suffer as he developed hypertension. He didn't like having to keep his head shaved and felt it made him less attractive to women. His brothers worried about their little brother Curly who continued to regularly drink to excess.


Illness

Curly Howard's voice started to get deeper and his actions noticeably slower starting in 1944. His energy also was very low. Some believe it's possible he suffered the first of many strokes he experienced during his life. During December of 1944, Moe insisted Curly visit the Cottage Hospital located in Santa Barbara, California. After a complete examination, the doctors said Curly had a retinal hemorrhage, was obese and had a significant case of hypertension. His poor health forced him to cut back on making the comedic shorts.


Continued Health Deterioration

In 1945, Curley's brothers agreed, he was only a shell of his former comedic genius. Curly's work schedule had been cut even more, but his health continued to deteriorate.

During October of 1945, Curly Howard married Marion Buxbaum. The marriage lasted for approximately three months. It was a bitter divorce and one that was exploited by the media. After the divorce, Howard's health quickly became worse. Starting in 1946, Curly's voice had become noticeably coarse. Remembering the simplest dialogue became too much for him. During this time, he lost a significant amount of weight. This resulted in deep lines creasing his face.


Half Wits Holiday movie short. Curly Howard on the far left.

Half Wits Holiday movie short. Curly Howard on the far left.

Stroke

Curly Howard made his final appearance on film in the comedic short “Half-Wits Holiday.” Curly suffered a severe stroke during the filming of the comedic short. It happened on May 6, 1946, right before the last scene of the day. Curly couldn't speak and cried. After this, Curly spent a few months at a Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. After this, he went home to continue his recuperation. Curly Howard married Valerie Newman on July 31, 1947. The couple had a daughter in 1948 they named Janie. The two of them remained married until Curly Howard's death.


Curly Howard Burial Plot

Curly Howard Burial Plot

Last Days

During the later months of 1950, Curly Howard's health got much worse. He eventually was confined to a bed. He was then moved to a Sanitarium. Because he had suffered multiple strokes, it became very difficult for him to talk and communicate to people. He eventually could only communicate by squeezing a person's hand. On January 18, 1952, Curly Howard passed away at the age of 48.


Comedic Legend

Many celebrities and film critics felt Curly Howard was their favorite member of The Three Stooges. Most people agree he was a natural comedian who was a genius at making up funny things on the spur of the moment. His creation of “woob, woob, woob,” “ruff, ruff,” “nyahh-ahhh-ahhh,” as well as “n'yuk, n'yuk, n'yuk” and others have earned him a spot in American Culture and comedic history.


Comments

Readmikenow (author) on February 16, 2020:

Ann, thanks for your comment and sharing. Yes, Larry was the only one who wasn't a brother to the others.

Ann Dixon on February 15, 2020:

The 3 stooges were really some funny charaters. I just read that they were Brothers, except Larry or was he? Did not get that far. I grew up with them. They are older than.use to clean house watching them.......

Readmikenow (author) on July 08, 2019:

Dolores, thanks. I agree with you. He and his brothers were comedic legends.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on July 08, 2019:

How unfair it seems that a man who gave, and still gives after death, so much joy suffered so. He is a comedy legend.

Readmikenow (author) on October 22, 2018:

George, thanks for sharing such a nice story.

Readmikenow (author) on October 22, 2018:

Patrick, thanks. Three stooges were also one of my favorites as a kid.

George on October 22, 2018:

He made my daughter laugh and that was priceless. She has severe autism and to hear laugh and smile is wonderul. Thank you

Deb b

Patrick Schneider on October 22, 2018:

I grew up in St.louis watching Harry Fender ( Captain 11 ) on KPLR CHANNEL 11 ! Going down the Mississlopi River !! Come home from grade school to watch CAPTAIN 11 it was time for the Three Stooges , they took them off the air because of too much Violence , today watch the news and today's programming it's all VIOLENCE AND WORSE !

Readmikenow (author) on October 22, 2018:

George, thanks.

George on October 22, 2018:

Curley did reappear in a scene.He was a passenger on a train ,had a line and longer hair.

Readmikenow (author) on October 22, 2018:

Ron, I agree.

Readmikenow (author) on October 22, 2018:

Dan, thanks. Curly Howard was the best.

Ron on October 22, 2018:

A legend that will never fade. Makes me laugh every single time! Gone way to early...

Dan Maynard on October 21, 2018:

Yep, Curly was my favorite even though I loved all three of them! However, this 68 year old goofball has been and will continue to be using the phrase, " I am trying to think, but nothing is happening"!!!

Thank you Curly, you were/are the best!!!

Readmikenow (author) on August 05, 2018:

Peter, thanks. He was a gifted comedic actor.

Peter Renardo on August 04, 2018:

Curly was the best. In late 1945 the Stooges were in Swing Parade of 1946 and Curly was much better, but seven months later he suffered the stroke that ended his career.

Readmikenow (author) on April 15, 2018:

Thanks!

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on April 15, 2018:

Readmikenow -- you are so right. And I would wager that he (Howard) was a favorite not only for you and I, but to anyone who loved REAL comedy. Keep up the fine work, mike.

Readmikenow (author) on April 15, 2018:

Kenneth, thanks. Curly Howard was my favorite. He was such a funny man with such a tragic life.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on April 14, 2018:

Bravo, Mike! Bravo! I am so very glad to meet and follow you and read about MY favorite comedy icon: Curly Howard--more than a name, but a legend. I mean this too.

I loved every short film and every episode of the Stooges, but those with Joe and Shemp were to me, Non-Stooges, but Curly, Larry and Joe were the Real Deal.

I was impressed at the depth of research you did to achieve such a great hub.

Bravo!

Keep up the fine work.

Readmikenow (author) on April 04, 2018:

Bill, thanks. I think some of the comedy Curly did will be popular for many generations.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 04, 2018:

I spent countless hours as a child watching The Three Stooges, and Curly was my favorite by far. What fun!

Readmikenow (author) on April 03, 2018:

It's a shame as he was a tremendous comedic talent.

Peter Renardo on April 02, 2018:

Curly suffered his first mini stroke sometime between Idiots Deluxe and If A Body Meets A Body in early 1945. He also made a feature film at this time, and his illness was only appearing occasionally.

Readmikenow (author) on January 24, 2018:

Larry, thanks. He was one of my favorite stooges.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on January 23, 2018:

Big fan of the Stooges. I really enjoyed the information on Curly.

Readmikenow (author) on January 15, 2018:

A B, thanks. Yeah, he was one of my favorite stooges as well. A shame how his life declined and ended.

A B Williams from Central Florida on January 15, 2018:

Great read Mike!

Curly was my favorite Stooge for sure, he made me laugh out loud. Moe just scared me!

It is shame that his health declined so rapidly. It sounds as if you were describing a man of 78, not 48. Sad!