The follies of The Three Stooges broke the time barrier in the history of film and television comedies to make several generations laugh. And although at present its absurd humor based on physical violence may be questioned, its validity shows that its success has no expiration date. What it did have, instead, is a brain: Moe Howard, who was born on June 19 124 years ago, responsible for making the trio the most famous in the world.
For those who enjoyed the short films of The Three Stooges (thus its name in English), it would be more than difficult to associate one of its members with the following characteristics off the screen: he was bullied at school, had a prodigious memory, was romantic, caring and supportive.
If it’s about Moses Harry HorwitzLater, Moe Howard, who to the public was the bossy, curmudgeonly and aggressive leader, led a life that has little to do with fiction and that traps those who know it.
From bullying to an iconic Moe haircut
Born into a Jewish community on the outskirts of Brooklyn, Moses was the fourth of the five children of Solomon and Jennie Gorovitz, a Lithuanian immigrant couple who fled anti-Semitic persecution in Europe and in 1890 emigrated to New York, United States.
The “mug” haircut that became the iconic Moe Howard image in The Three Stooges.
Upon arriving in America, a Migration official changed his surname to Horwitz, the same as later brothers Moe, Shemp and Curly would modify Howard to fit the artistic style of the time.
From a young age, Moe was interested in acting, a talent that was helped by his voracious memory: he was able to memorize books that he had read and, of course, the plays that fascinated him and saw when he was absent from school.
It happens that at school he was harassed by his classmates, what today we would call bullying. And his mother had a lot to do with that. She loved the boy’s thick hair and methodically did 20 shoulder length loops, a rare hairstyle at the dawn of the 20th century.
The Three Stooges became a classic that made generations laugh.
Moe hated his image and, sick of being the permanent target of mockery of his “friends”, one day he locked himself in the bathroom, took a pair of scissors and cut all his loops. He did it the best he could, then he must have evened out a bit the mess he had made and his new image would be that of the famous “cup cut”. A decision that not only served to escape harassment but would become his trademark.
Passion for theater
Moe’s parents were upset by her constant truancy and her desire to have a career in show business. It was then that he was forced to enroll in the Baron DeHirsch Trade School in New York, where took electrical workshop classes.
Unsurprisingly, it lasted only a few months and soon returned to a difficult path to acting and theater. Thus, in 1909 it became errand boy at Vitagraph studios stars, based in Brooklyn.
Her perseverance to time paid off and she began acting in studio-produced films. Her family thought she was wasting her time and future trying to do the same cute things for others that she taught at home.
Show business was always Moe Howard’s passion.
But sadly, most of the movies he shot for Vitagraph were lost. during a fire in his film library on July 2, 1910.
The following decade continued with acting and singing. In 1922, he and his older brother Shemp began working in vaudeville with their childhood friend Ted Healy. Three years later, in 1925, the remembered Larry Fine joined them. They gave life to a trio, the seed of The Three Stooges on stage.
The love of his life, the magician’s cousin Harry Houdini
In 1925 Moe married who would ultimately be the love of his life. Is about Helen Schonberger, the cousin of the incredible illusionist Harry Houdini. A marriage that only death could truncate, days before what would be their 50th anniversary together.
As a counterpart to what one remembers on screen, More was a romantic who wrote hundreds of love poems when they first married.
Moe Howard with his wife Helen Schonberger, the cousin of the magician Harry Houdini.
An anecdote paints it perfectly: for her 10th anniversary she called the house and concealed her true voice, asking Helen if she would take Moe Horwitz as her legitimate husband. Later performed the entire wedding ceremony by phone, and at the end he sang his wedding song, “Oh Promise Me “.
The couple had two sons, Joan and Paul. When the girl was about to be born, Helen asked Moe to quit the stage comedy so they could focus on their new family.
Failed jobs and brothers back on the scene
Determined to turn to his wife and daughter (the future writer of the biographical book about his father), Moe agreed to walk away from the stage and tried his luck for a year in the real estate market. But neither her ability to speak nor her dedication helped her success. Even opened his own retail store.
It was not necessary to give many turns, his destiny was not in the real estate or in a trade, but in the world of the spectacle.
Moe and Shemp Howard, brothers in life and protagonists of The Three Stooges.
In 1927 he returned to the ring. He intermittently directed and produced plays in the Bensonhurst Jewish Community House, and shortly thereafter he returned to performing with his old vaudeville gang.
They experienced much success together, and the rave reviews continued as they ventured onto Broadway and then into the movies, even after Shemp was replaced by his younger brother Jerome, later nicknamed Curly.
Natural leader of The Three Stooges
After several movies with Ted Healy for MGM, they separated in 1934 and began to do short songs in Columbia Pictures as The Three Stooges.
It was the beginning of a fabulous and prolific path full of successes. During the following 24 years they starred in 190 shorts, and occasionally appeared in feature films.
One of the typical scenes of physical humor today criticized from The Three Stooges.
However, it wasn’t until 1959, after both Shemp and Curly passed away and Besser, who was replaced by Joe DeRita, joined in that they were protagonists of own feature films. They also leaned on TV, commercial merchandise from The Three Stooges for children and even recorded albums.
Supportive, attentive and great money manager
Although Moe Howard’s fans saw on screen that he was very bossy and short-tempered, his real-life personality was the complete opposite.
I was the only nutty who he was good at managing money, and in fact he died very rich. They say that he always insisted on others to give him part of their wages to save or invest. I didn’t want that They will waste all their money on luxuries, gambling and women.
Although he rarely showed his emotions, he used to express them through the numerous gifts he bought for his family and friends.
Off screen, Moe Howard was personable, supportive, and very family-oriented.
In the same vein as his mother, he collaborated with many charities, such as the Spastic Children’s Guild (of which he was president three times). Even He dressed up as Santa Claus for sick children.
A token of his generosity was when he showed up for Christmas at the home of Emil sitka, a character actor with whom I worked and had not been having a good time, and stocked the cupboards and refrigerator with food for him, his wife and their seven children.
Sitka wrote him a letter to thank him: “The oil burns for eight days during Hanukkah, but my torch burns in gratitude for you forever.”
Some curious hobbies
Beyond acting, Moe found time to indulge in a number of curious hobbies. One of them was to create pieces of ceramics and another, the manufacture of rugs with hooks.
The life of this devoted family man was also occupied by the philately and numismatics (collect postage stamps and coins, respectively), the Winemaking and miniature car racing.
Moe Howard of The Three Stooges died of lung cancer.
Sad ending and eternal recognition
Lung cancer quickly killed Moe, who was a heavy smoker. He died at the age of 77, on May 4, 1975., four months after Larry’s departure. Two decades ago, his brothers Curly and Shemp had already passed away.
His remains rest in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery, but his timeless legacy does not. The Three Stooges continues to be broadcast in many countries and in endless languages and cultures.
In case it is necessary to remember, over the years the unrivaled success was transformed into hundreds of venues dedicated to the trio, as well as movies, series and programs of television dedicated to them. Also in musical hits and even video games.
Legacy. Actors Chris Diamontopoulos (Moe), Sean Hayes (Larry) and Will Sasso Curly) in 2012’s “The Three Stooges: The Movie.”
The August 20, 1983, justice was finally served and the comedians received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, California. And all the product of a brilliant mind that brought The Three Stooges to life, the mind and heart of the incredible Moe Howard.