Shemp Howard

Shemp Howard

Infobox actor
name = Shemp Howard

imagesize = 150px
caption = Shemp Howard, circa 1945
birthname = Samuel Horwitz
birthdate = birth date|1895|3|4|mf=y
birthplace = Brownsville, New York
deathdate = death date and age|1955|11|22|1895|3|4
deathplace = Hollywood, California

Shemp Howard (March 04, 1895 [] – November 22, 1955) was part of the Three Stooges comedy team. Born Samuel Horwitz, he was called "Shemp" because "Sam" came out that way in his mother's thick Jewish Lithuanian accent. He was the older brother of Moe Howard and "third stooge" in the early years of the act. He would rejoin the trio in May 1946, after youngest brother Jerome "Curly" Howard suffered a stroke.

Personal life

Shemp, like his brothers Moe and Curly, was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He was the third of the five Horwitz brothers and of Levite and Lithuanian Jewish ancestry. In September 1925, Shemp (age 30) married Gertrude Frank (age 28) a fellow New Yorker. They had only one child, a son, Morton (1926-1972).

Shemp used his somewhat homely appearance for comic effect, often mugging grotesquely or allowing his hair to fall in disarray. He even played along with a publicity stunt that named him "The Ugliest Man in Hollywood." ("I'm hideous," he explained to reporters.) Notoriously phobic, his fears included airplanes, automobiles, dogs and water. According to Moe's autobiography, Shemp never obtained a driver's license.

how business

Moe entered show business as a youngster, on stage and in films. By the 1920s he was part of a roughhouse act with vaudeville star Ted Healy. One day Moe spotted his brother Shemp in the audience, and yelled at him from the stage. Quick-witted Shemp yelled right back, and walked onto the stage. From then on, Shemp was part of the act, usually known as "Ted Healy and His Stooges." On stage, Healy would sing and tell jokes while his three noisy stooges (show-business slang for assistants) would get in his way. Healy would retaliate with physical and verbal abuse. Shemp played a bumbling fireman in the Stooges' first film, "Soup to Nuts", the only film in which he plays one of Healy's gang.

Healy was always the main attraction of the act, and his stooges were in constant disagreement with him over billing, money, and management. Tired of Healy's shenanigans, Shemp left Healy's act in 1932 to pursue a solo film career.

olo years

Shemp Howard, like many New York-based performers, found work at the Vitaphone studio in Brooklyn. Originally playing bit roles in Vitaphone's Roscoe Arbuckle comedies, showing off his goofy appearance, he was entrusted with speaking roles and supporting parts almost immediately. He was featured with Vitaphone comics Jack Haley, Ben Blue, and Gus Shy, then co-starred with Harry Gribbon, Daphne Pollard, and Johnnie Berkes, and finally starred in his own two-reel comedies. Shemp would seldom stick to the script, and would liven up a scene with ad-libbed, incidental dialogue or wisecracks. This became a trademark of his performances.

Away from Vitaphone he attempted, unsuccessfully, to lead his own group of "stooges" in the Van Beuren musical comedy short "The Knife of the Party".Otherwise, Shemp Howard's solo career was very successful. He performed with such comic greats as W.C. Fields, and the comedy team Abbott and Costello, who would reportedly trim his scene-stealing material. He also lent comic relief to Charlie Chan and The Thin Man murder mysteries, and was hilarious in several Universal B-musicals of the early 1940s, among them "Strictly in the Groove", "How's About It?" "Moonlight and Cactus", and "San Antonio Rose", in which he is paired with Lon Chaney Jr. as a faux Abbott & Costello. In most of these, his improvisational skills are highlighted. He was briefly teamed with comedians Billy Gilbert and Maxie Rosenbloom for three B-comedy features in 1944-45. He also played a few dramatic roles, such as his small role in the John Wayne film "Pittsburgh" in 1942.

The Three Stooges: 1947-1956

Since 1939, Shemp had been appearing frequently in Columbia's two-reel comedies, co-starring with Columbia regulars Andy Clyde, The Glove Slingers, El Brendel, and Tom Kennedy. Howard was given his own starring series in 1944; he was working for Columbia in this capacity when his brother Curly was felled by a debilitating stroke in 1946. Shemp reluctantly replaced Curly in Columbia's popular Stooge shorts, essentially becoming the third stooge once more knowing that Moe and Larry would be out of work if he refused. Initially, Shemp rejoined the Stooges on a temporary basis until Curly recovered, but as Curly's condition worsened, it became apparent that Shemp's association with the Stooges would be permanent. (Prior to replacing Curly on film, Shemp had substituted for his brother in some personal appearances in the early 1940s.)

Shemp appeared with Moe and Larry in 73 short subjects and the feature film "Gold Raiders". He suffered a mild stroke in November 1952, though without noticeable effect on his remaining films with the Stooges (largely remakes of earlier films that recycled footage to reduce costs). Some fans, however, contend that in these later cheapies, Shemp looks weak, pale, and even disoriented.


While returning home by taxicab from a boxing match on November 22, 1955, Shemp died of a massive heart attack. Shemp was lighting a cigar after telling a joke when he suddenly slumped over in his friend Al Winston's lap. Although Moe Howard claimed in his autobiography that Shemp died on November 23, 1955 and most accounts point to that date, the Los Angeles county coroner death certificate states that Shemp Howard died on Tuesday November 22, 1955 at 11:35 PST. He was interred at the Home of Peace Memorial Park in East Los Angeles.

In Paul "Mousie" Garner's 1985 biography of the Three Stooges, co-written by Joan Howard Maurer, Shemp's wife Gertrude is quoted as saying that after his mild stroke in 1952, Shemp was prescribed an unknown heart medication despite never being otherwise treated for a heart problem.

"Fake Shemp"

Columbia had promised exhibitors eight Three Stooges comedies for 1956, but only four were completed when Shemp died. To fulfill the contract, producer Jules White manufactured four more shorts by reusing old footage of Shemp and filming new connecting scenes with a double (longtime Stooge supporting actor Joe Palma), seen mostly from the back. The re-edited films range from clever to blatantly patchy, and Stooge fans often dismiss them as second-rate. "Rumpus in the Harem" borrows from "Malice in the Palace", "Hot Stuff" from "Fuelin' Around", "Commotion on the Ocean" from "Dunked in the Deep". The best (and most technically accomplished) is "Scheming Schemers", combining new footage with recycled clips from "three" old Stooge shorts: "A Plumbing We Will Go", "Half-Wits Holiday", and "Vagabond Loafers". [Forrester, Jeff (2002). "Three Stooges: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Most Popular Comedy Team of All Time", p. 151-152. Donaldson Books
ISBN 0971580103

When it was time to renew the Stooges' contract, Columbia hired comedian Joe Besser to replace Shemp. After 16 films, Columbia replaced Joe by (in a sense) bringing back Shemp. Columbia kept the series going into the 1960s by reissuing Shemp's Stooge comedies. Thus, Shemp Howard remained a popular movie star for more than a decade after his death.

Director Sam Raimi and his childhood friend/actor Bruce Campbell refer to body doubles and stand-ins as "Shemps" or "Fake Shemps" in reference to the postmortem "Stooges" shorts.

In a 2000 TV-movie, Shemp was played by John Kassir.

ee also

* Lithuanian Jews
* Fake Shemp


Further reading

* "Moe Howard and the Three Stooges"; by Moe Howard [] , (Citadel Press, 1977).
* "The Columbia Comedy Shorts"; by Ted Okuda with Edward Watz [] , (McFarland, 1986).
* "The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion"; by Jon Solomon [] , (Comedy III Productions, Inc., 2002).
* "The Three Stooges Scrapbook"; by Jeff Lenburg, Joan Howard Maurer, Greg Lenburg [] (Citadel Press, 1994).
* "The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History, From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons"; by Michael Fleming [] (Broadway Publishing, 1999).
* "One Fine Stooge: A Frizzy Life in Pictures"; by Steve Cox and Jim Terry [] , (Cumberland House Publishing, 2006).

External links

* []

NAME= Howard, Shemp
DATE OF BIRTH= 1895-3-4
PLACE OF BIRTH= Brownsville, New York
DATE OF DEATH= 1955-11-22
PLACE OF DEATH= Hollywood, California

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Shemp Howard — con Los Tres Chiflados. Shemp Howard (nacido como Samuel Horwitz) fue un artista cómico estadounidense, estrella de cine de los años treinta a cincuenta. Nació en (Brooklyn, Nueva York, 4 de marzo de 1895 California, 22 de noviembre de 1955). [1] …   Wikipedia Español

  • Shemp Howard — est un acteur américain né le 4 mars 1895 [1] à Brooklyn, New York (États Unis), décédé le 22 novembre 1955 à Hollywood (Californie). Sommaire 1 Biographie 2 Filmographie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Shemp Howard — (bürgerlich: Samuel Horwitz; * 4. März 1895 in Brooklyn, New York City; † 22. November 1955 in Hollywood, Kalifornien) war zeitweise Mitglied in der Komikertruppe The Three Stooges. Nach seinem Ausscheiden kam sein Bruder Curly Howard in die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Howard (Name) — Howard ist ein Familienname, der vor allem im englischsprachigen Raum verbreitet ist. Er tritt auch als Vorname auf. Bekannte Namensträger Inhaltsverzeichnis A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Howard — puede ser un apellido y un nombre. Puede hacer referencia a: Howard, noble familia inglesa. La Universidad Howard, ubicada en Washington D. C.. El borough de Howard, en Pensilvania, Estados Unidos. El condado de Howard, en Maryland, Estados… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Howard (surname) — Family name name = Howard imagesize= caption= pronunciation = HOW erd meaning = region = origin = related names =Howerd, Heward and Huard footnotes = Howard is a common English language surname. Its origins are unclear. One theory is that it… …   Wikipedia

  • HOWARD, MOE, SHEMP, and CURLY — (Moses Horwitz, 1897–1975; Samuel Horwitz, 1895–1955; and Jerome Horwitz, 1903–1952), U.S. actors/comedians. The Brothers Howard, later known as the Three Stooges, were born in Brooklyn, New York and raised by their parents, real estate… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Samuel Howard — Shemp Howard Shemp Howard est un acteur américain né le 4 mars 1895 [1] à Brooklyn, New York (États Unis), décédé le 22 novembre 1955 à Hollywood (Californie). Sommaire 1 Biographie 2 Filmographie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Curly Howard — For the DJ, see Curly Howard (DJ). Curly Howard Howard in Nutty but Nice (1940) Born Jerome Lester Horwitz October 22, 1903(1903 10 22) …   Wikipedia

  • Moe Howard — Howard in 1933 Born Moses Harry Horwitz June 19, 1897(1897 06 19) Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York, United States …   Wikipedia