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Lawrence Bush
October 21, 2017

Curly Howard (Jerome Lester Horwitz), who absorbed more eye-pokes and head-slaps than any other comic in history as one of the Three Stooges, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1903. Curly, a high school dropout, was an inventive, improvisational slapstick comedian who in 1934 joined his older brother Moe as a replacement for another brother, Shemp, as one of the Stooges. Curly had a high-pitched voice and seemed to be a boy in a man’s body, brimming with id and unconscious impulses that earned endless abuse. Offscreen, he was shy and introverted, with alcohol and eating problems that accompanied him through four marriages. In the 1940s, the Stooges made several anti-Nazi films, including “You Nazty Spy” (in which Moe becomes the Hitler-like dictator of Moronica) and “I’ll Never Heil Again.”

“Greeting their Nazi bosses, the Stooges leap back and salute: ‘Shalom aleichem!’ . . . A slinky temptress named Maddy Herring . . . offers her favors, and Curly is relieved when Moe avoids temptation: ‘You’d have been in some pickle with that Herring.’ . . . Their stupidity is timeless.” — Saul Austerlitz, myjewishlearning.com

Watch a short clip showcasing Curly Howard’s distinctive brand of comeedy:

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.