Jerome Lester “Jerry” Horwitz, well known by his stage as “Curly Howard,” was a comedian and vaudevillian from the United States. The American slapstick comedy group “The Three Stooges,” which also included his older brothers Moe and Shemp Howard and actor Larry Fine, is best known for having him as a member. The Stooges’ Curly is sometimes regarded as their most well-known and recognized member. He was known for his high-pitched voice, vocal mannerisms, and athleticism in addition to his unique physical comedy and improvisations. Despite having little acting experience, Curly Howard had a natural gift for comedy. Hugh Herbert, a mild-mannered comic who affected him much and from whom he borrowed many words and phrases. Before joining the Three Stooges, Curly was more commonly referred to as Jerry. Over the course of his career, he had roles in over twenty radio and television movies as well as more than a hundred short films, or “short subjects,” as they were known in the past. Punch Drunks, A Plumbing We Will Go, An Ache in Every Stake, and Cactus Makes Perfect are a few of his well-known short films.
Early Childhood & Life
Jennie Gorovitz and Solomon Horwitz welcomed Jerome Lester Horwitz into the world on October 22, 1903, in New York City. He was the youngest of his parents’ five kids. His ancestors were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania.
He was affectionately known by his brothers as “Babe” because he was the youngest member of his family.
Later, he picked up the moniker “Curly.” He was officially known as Yehudah Lev ben Shlomo Natan ha Levi in Hebrew.
Growing up, he was a peaceful youngster who rarely gave his parents any trouble. He wasn’t the best student in the class, but he was a gifted athlete. He looked up to his older brothers and, in their example, decided not to finish school and pursue odd occupations.
He was also a talented singer and ballroom dancer. In addition, Curly developed a love for comedy and performing as he was growing up.
Curly accidentally shot himself in the foot with a loaded weapon when he was just twelve years old. In order to prevent him from bleeding to death, his brother Moe hurried him to the hospital. Later, when he was a member of the Stooges, he created a well-known exaggerated walk to hide his limp on camera.
A trio of stooges
In 1928, Curly Howard made his first onstage performance. It was in his capacity as the Orville Knapp Band’s comedic musical conductor. Moe, his brother, admitted that he frequently performed better than the band did. Ted Healy’s Stooges, a hugely successful group at the time, helped Moe and Shemp achieve fame at the same time.
Shemp departed the act after receiving a contract offer from the Brooklyn Vitaphone Studios in 1932. Then Moe recommended Curly take on the role of The Stooges’ third stooge. Ted Healy had his doubts about Curly at first because he thought the character was too handsome to be hilarious. Curly cut off his thick hair as a result to give himself a comical image.
Healy disbanded the duo in 1934 because he wanted to focus on building his individual career with MGM. The Three Stooges, now known as Moe, Curly, and Larry Fine, agreed to star in two-reel comedic short subjects (short movies) for Columbia Pictures. The Stooges eventually became the most well-liked short-topic attraction, with Curly contributing significantly to the work of the group.
Curly was well-liked by the crowd, particularly kids, thanks to his youthful demeanor and inherent sense of humor. His sense of humor and comic timing was so great that directors frequently let Curly improvise while the camera rolled. In order to allow Curly to improvise for a total of several minutes, Jules White, in particular, would intentionally leave blank spaces in the Stooges’ scripts.
The Stooges were extremely successful in the late 1930s and early 1940s because of classics like “Punch Drunks” (1934), “A Plumbing Will Go” (1940), “We Want Our Mummy” (1938), and “Cactus Makes Perfect” (1942).
When Curly ever forgot his lines, according to his brother Moe, he was free to improvise right away so that the “take” could go on. The Stooges continued to mimic Curly’s motions and facial expressions even after he had left the act.
Curly’s Bigger Works
The 1939 short film “Saved by the Belle” was one of the several that Curly Howard appeared in. The Stooges were traveling salesmen who become lost in a fictitious South American nation called Valeska in Charley Chase’s film. In addition to the Stooges, LeRoy Mason, Carmen LaRoux, Gino Corrado, and Vernon Dent also acted in the movie.
Disease & Stroke
Curly’s energy level has begun to decline by 1944. His activities can be seen slowing down in the movies “Idle Roomers” (1944) and “Booby Dupes” (1945), which suggests his declining health.
He was diagnosed with obesity, severe hypertension, and a retinal hemorrhage in 1945. Even though he would typically produce eight short films a year, his poor health prevented him from releasing more than five that year.
Curly’s voice had gotten worse by the middle of 1946, and even basic conversation was becoming difficult for him to remember. While Curly was seated in the director’s chair, he experienced a serious stroke during the May 1946 filming of “Half-Wits Holiday.” He had to recreate the scene with just Moe and Larry after being brought to the hospital.
Curly had to stay for a number of weeks in the Woodland Hills, California facility known as the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital.
Shemp, Curly’s brother, decided to take Curly’s place in the Columbia shorts after Curly had the stroke. In the 1947 movie “Hold That Lion!,” Curly makes a comeback along with his brothers and Larry Fine (a first for them).
Later in June 1948, Curly appeared in the short film “Malice in the Palace” in a cameo role. But because of how his illness was still affecting him, many of his sequences had to be cut from the final edit since they weren’t up to par.
Curly’s Individual Life
Curly Howard’s real demeanor was surprisingly the complete opposite of his portrayal on TV. Being an introvert, he used to primarily keep to himself. He was hardly ever seen mingling with people unless he had consumed alcohol. As his profession developed, he drank more because he couldn’t handle the stress.
On June 7, 1937, Curly was married to Elaine Ackerman. The couple’s sole child, Marilyn, was born to Elaine the following year. After the couple’s divorce in June 1940, Curly not only put on a lot of weight but also started to have high blood pressure.
He had a chronic drinking problem and severe self-consciousness about his appearance. He never drank when performing on stage or in films because his brother Moe would never allow it, but when Moe wasn’t there, he spent a lot of money on wine, food, ladies, and vehicles. He frequently came close to becoming bankrupt.
Curly was also well known for his love of dogs. He used to adopt stray animals and use them as his pets. He frequently picked up stray dogs and carried them around until he was able to find them homes.
On October 17, 1945, he wed once more, this time to Marion Buxbaum. But the union only lasted a little over three months. The divorce had a significant impact on his financial situation and reputation.
He married Valerie Newman for a third time on July 31, 1947. The following year, they gave birth to a girl they named Janie. They remained together till his passing.
Retiring and dying
Late in 1948, Curly Howard experienced his second severe stroke, which left him severely paralyzed. He was eventually placed on a diet of cooked rice and apples and forced to use a wheelchair. In August 1950, he had to be readmitted to the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital.
The next year, he was sent to a nursing facility, where he experienced a second stroke a month later. He was admitted to the North Hollywood Hospital and Sanitarium in April of that year.
As Curly’s mental state deteriorated, he began to cause issues for the sanitarium’s nursing staff. Later, his brother Moe transferred him to the San Gabriel, California facility Baldy View Sanitarium.
Finally dying on January 18, 1952, Curly died away. He wasn’t even 48. He was buried in the East Los Angeles Home of Peace Cemetery’s Western Jewish Institute area following a traditional Jewish burial.
Estimated Net Worth
Curly Howard, an American comedian and vaudeville performer, had a $10 million fortune. In October 1903, Curly Howard was born in Brooklyn, New York, and he died in January 1952.