I’ve seen the future, and it’s Moe

moe-howard

Today would have been the legendary Moe Howard’s 112th birthday.

Moe Howard is best known as the leader of the Three Stooges, the slapstick comedy team who starred in motion pictures and television for four decades.

Moe was born Moses Harry Horwitz in the Brooklyn, New York neighborhood of Brownsville, to Solomon Horwitz and Jennie Gorovitz. He was the fourth of the five Horwitz brothers.  Although his parents were not involved in show business, Moe, his older brother Samuel (Shemp) and younger brother Jerome (Curly), all eventually became world-famous as members of the Three Stooges.

In 1921, Moe joined vaudevillian Lee Nash, who was now firmly established in show business as Ted Healy, in a comedy  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).

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 20th 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 successful 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 (whom he disliked), 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 renamed The Three Stooges) signed with Columbia Pictures where they stayed until December 1959, making 190 short films.