Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk, Everyone's Favorite Stooge...Coitenly!

Happy Would-Be 106th Boithday to Jerome "Curly" Howard!

Born today in 1903, Jerry...or Curly was the Stooge we all wanted to imitate. A true personification of the human id, he seemed the most like we manic folks, who are stoogophiles!

Jerry was the youngest of the 5 Horwitz brothers (Shemp, Moe and Curly all changed to Howard when they entered show bid-ness) and so was dubbed "Babe" by his older siblings, a nickname which stuck with him for life. He was only "Curly" in front of the camera.

In the early 1930's, when Shemp grew tired of the abuse (financial and emotional and physical) suffered under from Ted Healy, Moe suggested his other brother "Babe" to replace him. Jerry walked in to the meeting with Ted coiffed as he standardly was in his own stage persona, with longish wavy brown hair and a bushy moustache. Healy said, "You don't fit in! Your brother's got that bowl haircut and Larry's got the porcupine're too normal looking!". Jerry left the meeting, went downstairs and had a moustache-ectomy and his hair shaved away and came back and said, "Just call me Curly.", and the rest is history.

In 1934 the boys broke away from Healy to begin their long run at Columbia doing the shorts we all know and love. Curly was the bright light who really clicked with audiences, until illness came.

In 1946 Curly had a debilitating stroke which left him unable to perform as Curly did. If you watch the last 12 or so shorts that Curly appears in, we can assume that there were a series of smaller strokes that happened beforehand left unattended. He seems much more slowed down and sluggish.

This was the end of Jerry Howard's career.

Shemp was asked and agreed to come back and fill the shoes of the third stooge until Curly could recover, but Curly never got back to fighting strength. He lived until 1952 and had a happy and relaxing retirement with his 4th wife. They even had a child in 1948.

Below is one of my favorite pictures of the stooges. A few shorts into Shemp coming back, Curly was visiting the set, and came up with a gag idea. Moe, Larry and Shemp are running through a train car trying to find someone, when they're suddenly distracted by a strange snoring sound. You all know the one...go ahead...I'll wait while you do it...there, feel better? There in his seat is the sleeping Jerry "Curly" "Babe" Howard in all his glory.

It's the only scene on film that features all 3 Howard's. A gem.

Here's a couple of Curly clips to start your day with.

The first a scene from "Disorder in the Court":

Next is "Swinging the Alphabet" from "Violent is the Word for Curly":

Just try and get that out of your head the rest of the day. I dare you.
Curly's career was stopped short when he was just 43 and his life when just 49.

Aren't we the better and happier for the short time he was here though?

I think so.
Thanks Jerry!

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