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May 4: “Oh, Wise Guy, Eh?” Boink!

May 4, 2013

The_Three_Stooges_hair_pull_Larry_Fine_Moe_Howard_Curly_HowardMoe Howard (Moses Harry Horwitz), leader and main eye-gouger of the Three Stooges, died at 77 on this date in 1975. Howard caught the show biz bug in high school and became a vaudeville performer at 17. He attached his star to Ted Healey (Ernest Nash), a childhood friend and vaudevillian who would ultimately be best remembered for launching The Stooges. In 1934, the Three Stooges went their own way, and ultimately starred in 190 comedy shorts with Columbia Pictures, which were also broadcast for years on television, turning the Stooges into cultural icons of the baby-boom generation. The trio consisted of Moe as the bossy, violent, impatient fool of a leader; his real-life brother Jerry as Curly, as the irrepressible shlimazl who collects the most slaps; and Larry Fine as Larry the earnest nudnik. Moe’s older brother, Shemp, also worked in the troupe before Curly came on board and after Curly was temporarily sidelined by a stroke in 1946. (Shemp worked in 73 of the shorts before he died in 1955.) Moe, Larry, and Curly continued as the Three Stooges in films and other venues until 1965, when they were all nearly 70 and unable to handle the slapstick violence. Among their films were several with anti-Nazi themes, in which Moe impersonated Adolf Hitler.

“What’s that for? I didn’t do nuthin’!” “That’s in case ya do and I’m not around!” —Larry and Moe