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Moe Howard

"leader" of the Three Stooges

Moe Howard

Moses Harry Horwitz was born in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, on June 19, 1897, the third of five sons of Solomon, a clothing cutter, and Jennie Horwitz. His two younger brothers, Jerome (Curly) and Shemp, were both at one time part of The Three Stooges team; neither of his older brothers, Jack and Irving, went into show business. The "bowl-cut" hairstyle which was part of his trademark was created by accident. His mother had wanted a girl but got five sons instead, so Moe (as he was called) became her "substitute daughter" and was often dressed up in frilly dresses as a child. He also had long, curly hair, which his mother loved to style. One day Moe finally decided he had endured enough ridicule from schoolmates and he and some of his friends used garden shears to cut off his locks, using a bowl as a guide.

Moe did well in grammar school, but often played hooky in order to see a show at a melodrama theatre. He subsequently attended Erasmus High School for two months before dropping out to pursue a career in the theater. Because his parents disapproved of his career choice, Moe took a class in electric shop for a few months, but that was not the trade for him and he resumed his original career path.

Howard began his theater career in 1909 working as an unpaid errand runner for actors and crew at Brooklyn-based Vitagraph films. His boss was so impressed with Howard that he began giving him bit roles in silent films. He spent the next several years working with various vaudeville troupes and appearing in two-reel comedy shorts. In 1922, he and Ted Healy, whom he had met while at Vitagraph, joined up with Shemp Howard and Larry Fine to form an act that eventually became known as The Three Stooges. The act appeared on vaudeville and in several MGM films before The Three Stooges and Ted Healy went separate ways, after which the Three Stooges signed with Columbia Pictures and enjoyed a career that spanned over twenty years.

Moe Howard died of lung cancer in Los Angeles on May 4, 1975. He was survived by his wife Helen (whom he had married on June 7, 1925) and two children, Joan and Paul.

Moe was the only one of the Stooges to have a substantial estate when he died, as he was the only one to manage and invest his money during the course of his career. The only reason his fellow Stooges did not die completely broke was that they agreed to let him invest some of their earnings for them.

The Three Stooges

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This page was last updated on 06/18/2018.