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Jerome Howard (October 22, 1903-January 18, 1952) The funniest and most famous of The Three Stooges, Curly, was born Jerome Lester Horwitz. He was the youngest of the five Horwitz brothers. He, like Moe and Shemp, would later change his name to Howard. Jerome was nicknamed "Babe" by his older brother Moe as a child, since he was the baby of the family. He was a quiet child who never gave his mother trouble, unlike Moe and Shemp, who were very mischievious. Curly got his first taste of show business when he was four years old. He and his brothers Moe and Shemp would stage their own little theatre productions and charge two cents admission. Later, as a teen, Curly was quite a lady's man, as he would be throughout his life. He was into music and loved to dance. He also liked to sing and play the ukulele, so it was no wonder that he had no problem attracting the women. Being that Curly was the big social butterfly and, like his brothers Moe and Shemp, had a serious love of acting, it is believed that he did not finish high school. Curly got his first job in show business as a comedy conductor for the Orville Knapp Band in 1928. He would conduct the band in a break- away suit that came apart, piece by piece, as the show progressed, until he was standing there in nothing but his underclothes. In 1929 Curly married his first wife, whose name is a mystery to this day. It is believed that Curly was envious of Moe, who had a happy married life, and that he simply wanted to get away from his mother, who seemed to be running his life. The marriage did not last long, however, and it is believed that Curly's mother may have had a hand in breaking up the marriage. Curly got his big break in 1932, when his brother Shemp left the stooges act because he was fed up with Ted Healy, the original leader of the stooges. Moe suggested to Ted that his younger brother Jerome would be a good replacement for Shemp. Ted met Jerome, but thought he looked too ordinary. He said that Moe had the sugar bowl hair cut and that Larry looked liked a scared porcupine, and that Jerome just wouldn't fit in. He asked Jerome if he would shave his head. Jerome said he would think about it. The next day he did, and told Ted that he would join the stooges and to call him "Curly." Curly made an immediate impact on the act. He always had a hard time remembering his lines, so he would often ad-lib. It is believed that his famous lines such as "n-yuk, n-yuk, n-yuk" and "woo woo woo" were a result of his inability to remember his lines. Columbia Pictures was so impressed with the new stooges lineup of Moe, Larry, and Curly that they offered the trio a contract, if they left Ted Healy. As we know, the boys accepted that contract in 1934, and the rest is history. They would make 97 short subjects in the next 12 years. Curly's personal favorite was "A Plumbing We Will Go" (1940). Curly married his second wife, Elaine Ackerman, in 1937. They had a daughter, Marilyn, in 1938. This marriage, although much longer than Curly's first one, was still short-lived. By 1941 they were divorced. The failure of this marriage was a result of Curly's constant travelling with Moe and Larry and never being able to spend time with his family. The Stooges were constantly busy. When they weren't making their two-reelers, they were on the road doing live performances. Curly absolutely loved show business and wouldn't have given it up for any- thing. In the mid-forties, however, Curly's health started to deteriorate. His eating habits, combined with his constant drinking and smoking, caused him to gain weight and develop high blood pressure. A third marriage to a gold-digger in 1945 didn't help matters any. His third wife was Marion Buchsbaum. Moe hooked the two up hoping that if Curly got married and settled down that his health and morale might improve. Just the opposite occured, however. After only two months of marriage, the two divorced and Marion got half of everything Curly owned. After this Curly's health took a serious turn for the worse. On May 6, 1946, during the filming of the Stooges' 97th short subject, "Half-Wits' Holiday," Curly suffered a stroke and was rushed to the hospital. The film was finished the next day without Curly, and after that he was not able to return to the Stooges. Curly was put on a strict diet and told to stop drinking and carousing. Despite the fact that he was not able to return to acting, the years following Curly's stroke were probably the happiest of his life. He now realized what was important in life. He settled down and married a woman that he was compatible with in 1947. He remained married to his fourth wife, Valerie Newman, for the rest of his life. He had another daughter, Janie, in 1948. Janie was the apple of Curly's eye. Curly spent the rest of his life doing what he could to make Valerie and Janie happy. Curly made one final film appearance in 1947. By this time his brother Shemp had rejoined the Stooges' act, taking his place. Moe thought it would be a good idea to let Curly make a cameo appearance in one of their films. So, in the Stooges' 100th short, called "Hold That Lion," Curly played the part of a sleeping train passenger with a clothespin on his nose. When Moe would remove the clothespin, Curly would start snoring the same way he did when he was a Stooge. Despite this cameo appearance, Curly was never again healthy enough to return to acting full-time. Curly suffered several more strokes between 1949 and 1952. But Valerie was there to take care of him through all of his suffering. Then, on January 18, 1952, Curly suffered no more. He passed away at the young age of 48. Curly was the funniest person to ever walk the face of the Earth. No one could match his hilarious ad-libbing ability. He was a natural, with no formal training. Curly has been an inspiration to all kinds of comedians, from Robin Williams to Roseanne Barr to Whoopie Goldberg. Even Bruce Willis is a huge fan. Curly's magic has touched the lives of millions of people, and still does to this day. Every day, he continues to provide people with that special gift, laughter. I highly recommend that you read Curly's biography. It is called "Curly: An Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge." It was written in 1985 by Moe's daughter and Curly's niece, Joan Howard Maurer. It was published by the Citadel Press and is available in most major bookstores. Much of the information above was taken from this book.