MOE HOWARD Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Name: Moe Howard                                                                                     
Birth name: Harry Moses Horwitz                                                                     
Born: 19 June 1897 Bensonhurst, New York                                                             
Died: 4 May 1975 Los Angeles, California                                                             
Moe Howard (June 19, 1897 - May 4, 1975) was one of The Three Stooges, the                           
slapstick comedy team who starred in motion pictures and television for four                         
decades. His distinctive hairstyle came about when he was a boy and cut off his                     
curls with a pair of scissors, producing a ragged shape approximating a helmet.                     
Moe was born Harry Moses Horwitz in the Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of                           
Bensonhurst to Solomon Horwitz and Jennie Gorovitz. He was the fourth of the                         
five Horwitz brothers and of Levite and Lithuanian Jewish ancestry. In his                           
younger years, he got the nickname Moe. Although his parents were not involved                       
in show business, Moe, his older brother Samuel, and younger brother Jerome, all                     
eventually became world-famous as members of The Three Stooges.                                     
In school, Moe originally did quite well, aided by a prolific memory, able to                       
quickly memorize anything. In later years, this helped him in his acting career,                     
making memorizing his lines quick and easy. Moe loved reading, as his older                         
brother Jack commented "I had many Horatio Alger books and it was Moe's greatest                     
pleasure to read them. They started his imaginative mind working and gave him                       
ideas by the dozen. I think they were instrumental in putting thoughts into his                     
head to become a person of good character and to become successful."                                 
Although his "bowl-cut" hairstyle is now widely recognized, as a child his                           
mother refused to cut his hair, letting it grow to shoulder length. One day, he                     
could not take his classmates' years of teasing any longer, snuck off to a shed                     
in his parents' back yard, and with the help of a friend and a mixing bowl, cut                     
his hair. Moe was so afraid his mother would be upset (she enjoyed curling his                       
hair) that he hid under the house for several hours, causing a panic. He finally                     
came out and his mother was so glad to see him that she did not even mention the                     
Moe began to develop an interest in acting and, as a result, his schoolwork                         
suffered. He began playing hooky from school in order to attend theater shows.                       
Moe said, "I used to stand outside the theater knowing the truant officer was                       
looking for me. I would stand there 'til someone came along and then ask them to                     
buy my ticket. It was necessary for an adult to accompany a juvenile into the                       
theater. When I succeeded I'd give him my ten cents that's all it cost and I'd                       
go up to the top of the balcony where I'd put my chin on the rail and watch,                         
spellbound, from the first act to the last. I would usually select the actor I                       
liked the most and follow his performance throughout the play."                                     
Despite his decreasing attendance Moe graduated from P.S. 163 in Brooklyn, but                       
he dropped out of Erasmus Hall High School after only two months. This was the                       
end of his formal education. To mollify his parents he took a class in electric                     
shop, but quit after a few months to pursue a career in show business.                               
Moe began by running errands for no fee at the Vitagraph Studios in Midwood,                         
Brooklyn (currently the home of the CBS daytime serial As the World Turns),                         
where he was rewarded with bit parts in movies being made there. Unfortunately,                     
a fire at the studios in 1910 destroyed the film of most of Moe's work done                         
there. In 1909 he met a young man named Lee Nash who would later provide a                           
significant boost to Moe's career aspirations. In 1912, they both held a summer                     
job working in Annette Kellerman's aquatic act as diving "girls."                                   
Moe continued his attempts at gaining show business experience by singing in a                       
bar with his older brother Shemp until their father put a stop to it, and in                         
1914 joining a performing troupe on a Mississippi River showboat for the next                       
two summers. In 1921, he joined Lee Nash, who was now firmly established in show                     
business as Ted Healy, in a vaudeville routine. In 1923, Moe spotted Shemp                           
watching the show and yelled at him from the stage. Shemp and Moe heckled each                       
other to a large positive response from the audience and Healy hired Shemp as a                     
permanent part of the act. Next, Healy recruited a vaudeville violinist, Larry                       
Fine, in 1925, to join the comedy troupe, which was billed as "Ted Healy and His                     
Racketeers" (later changed to Ted Healy and His Stooges).                                           
On June 7, 1925, Moe Howard married Helen Schonberger, a cousin of magician                         
Harry Houdini. The next year, Helen pressured Moe to leave the stage, as she                         
was pregnant and wanted Moe nearer to home. Moe attempted to earn a living in a                     
succession of "normal" jobs, none of which was very successful. He soon returned                     
to working with Ted Healy.                                                                           
By 1930, Ted Healy and his Stooges were on the verge of "the big time," and made                     
their first movie, Soup to Nuts featuring Ted Healy, and his four Stooges (Moe,                     
Shemp, Larry, and one-shot Stooge Fred Sanborn) for Fox Films (later Twentieth                       
Century-Fox). Shemp had never seen eye-to-eye with the hard-drinking and                             
sometimes belligerent Healy, and left the group shortly after filming in order                       
to pursue a solo film career. After a short search for a replacement, Moe                           
suggested his youngest brother, Jerome ("Jerry" to his friends, "Babe" to Moe                       
and Shemp). Healy originally passed on Jerry, but Jerry was so eager to join the                     
act that he shaved off his luxuriant auburn mustache and hair and ran on stage                       
during Healy's routine. Healy hired Jerry, who took the stage name of "Curly."                       
Healy and the Stooges were hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as "nut" comics, to                         
liven up feature films and short subjects with their antics. After a number of                       
appearances in MGM films, Healy was being groomed as a solo character comedian.                     
With Healy pursuing his own career, his Stooges (now christened The Three                           
Stooges) signed with Columbia Pictures where they stayed until December 1957,                       
making 190 short films.                                                                             
With Healy's departure, Moe's character assumed Healy's previous role of the                         
aggressive, take-charge leader of the Three Stooges: a short-tempered bully,                         
prone to slapstick violence against the other two Stooges. In many ways, this                       
was the antithesis of Moe Howard's real personality; he was quiet, loving, and                       
generous to his friends and family. He was also a shrewd businessman, and                           
invested the money made from his film career wisely. However, the Stooges got no                     
subsequent royalties from any of their many shorts: they were paid a flat amount                     
for each one and Columbia owned the rights (and profits) thereafter.                                 
In 1934, Columbia released its first Three Stooges short, Woman Haters, where                       
their stooge characters were not quite finalized. It was not a Stooge comedy in                     
the classic sense, but rather a romantic farce; Columbia was then making a                           
series of two-reel "Musical Novelties" with the dialogue spoken in rhyme, and                       
the Stooges were recruited to support comedienne Marjorie White. Only after the                     
Stooges became established as short-subject stars were the main titles changed                       
to give the Stooges top billing. The version seen on TV and video today is this                     
reissue print.                                                                                       
Their next film, Punch Drunks, was the only short film that was written entirely                     
by the Three Stooges, with Curly as a reluctant boxer who goes ballistic every                       
time he hears "Pop Goes the Weasel." Their next short, Men in Black (a parody of                     
the hospital drama Men in White) was their first and only film to be nominated                       
for an Academy Award (with the classic catchphrase, "Calling Dr. Howard, Dr.                         
Fine, Dr. Howard"). They continued making short films at a steady pace of eight                     
per year, such as Three Little Pigskins (with a very young Lucille Ball), Pop                       
Goes the Easel, Hoi Polloi (where two professors make a bet trying to turn the                       
Three Stooges into gentlemen), and many others.                                                     
A promotional picture taken in 1975 (after Larry Fine's death), from left to                         
right, Curly Joe DeRita, Moe Howard (who died shortly thereafter) and Emil Sitka.                   
In the 1940s, the Three Stooges became topical, making several anti-Nazi movies                     
including You Nazty Spy! (Moe's favorite Three Stooges film), I'll Never Heil                       
Again, and They Stooge To Conga. Moe's accurate impersonation of Adolf Hitler                       
highlighted these shorts.                                                                           
On May 6, 1946, during the filming of Half-Wits Holiday, brother Curly suffered                     
a stroke. He was replaced in the Three Stooges by Shemp, who agreed to return to                     
the group until Curly would be well enough to rejoin. Although Curly recovered                       
enough to appear in Hold That Lion! in a cameo appearance (the only Three                           
Stooges film to contain all three Howard brothers; Moe, Curly, and Shemp), he                       
soon suffered a series of strokes which led to his death on January 18, 1952.                       
The Three Stooges' series of shorts continued to be popular through the 1950s;                       
Shemp co-starred in 73 comedies. (The Stooges also co-starred in a George O'Brien                   
western, Gold Raiders, in 1951.) Moe also co-produced occasional western and                         
musical films in the 1950s.                                                                         
On November 22, 1955, Shemp died of a heart attack, necessitating the need for                       
another Stooge. Producer Jules White used old footage of Shemp to complete four                     
more films with Columbia regular [Joe Palma] filling in for Shemp, until Harry                       
Cohn hired Joe Besser in 1956. According to Moe's autobiography, Howard wanted a                     
"two stooge" act, and that it was Cohn's idea, not Moe's, to replace Shemp as                       
part of the act. Joe, Larry, and Moe filmed 16 shorts through December 1957.                         
With the death of Columbia head Harry Cohn, the making of short subjects came to                     
an end, and Howard was forced to take a job as a gofer at Columbia.                                 
Fortunately for the Stooges, Columbia sold the Three Stooges' library of short                       
films to television under the "Screen Gems" brand. With this, the Three Stooges                     
quickly gained a new audience of young fans. Ever the businessman, Moe Howard                       
put together a new Stooges act, with burlesque and screen comic Joe DeRita (dubbed                   
"Curly-Joe" due to his resemblance to Curly Howard) as the new "third Stooge."                       
The revitalized trio starred in several feature-length movies: Have Rocket, Will                     
Travel, Snow White and the Three Stooges, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, The                       
Three Stooges in Orbit, The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze, and The                     
Outlaws Is Coming!.                                                                                 
Moe, Larry and Curly-Joe continued to make live appearances, many notable "guest                     
appearances", notably in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and 4 for Texas. The                       
boys tried their hand at a children's cartoon show titled The New 3 Stooges,                         
with the cartoons sandwiched between live action segments of the boys. However,                     
by 1965, the three had aged too much to continue performing slapstick comedy.                       
They did receive royalties from their features with Curly-Joe, and income from                       
the volume of Three Stooges merchandising.                                                           
Moe Howard in February 1975, three months before his death.                                         
Moe sold real estate when his show-business life slowed down, although he still                     
did minor roles and walk-on bits (Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title, Dr. Death:                   
Seeker of Souls), television appearances (Here's Hollywood, Toast of the Town,                       
Masquerade Party, and several appearances on The Mike Douglas Show). The Stooges                     
also made several appearances on late night television, particularly The Tonight                     
The Stooges attempted to make a final film in 1969, Kook's Tour, which was                           
essentially an early "reality TV" show of Moe, Larry and Curly-Joe, out of                           
character, touring the country and interacting with fans. On January 8, 1970,                       
Larry suffered a major stroke during filming, and died on January 24, 1975, at                       
age 72. Moe asked long-time Three Stooges supporting actor Emil Sitka to replace                     
Larry but this final lineup never recorded any material before Moe's death on                       
May 4, 1975, just a month shy of his 78th birthday.                                                 
Moe and the Three Stooges received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on                           
August 30, 1983, at 1560 Vine Street.                                                               
A lifelong smoker, Moe Howard died of lung cancer on May 4, 1975 and was                             
cremated. His remains are interred at Hillside Memorial Park, Culver City,                           
California. His wife died of a heart attack in October of 1975 and is buried                         
next to him.                                                                                         
Moe and Helen had two children: Joan Howard Maurer (born 1927) and Paul Howard (born