The Stooges got their name and their start in a vaudeville act called Ted Healy and his Stooges. Brothers Moses (Moe) and Shmuel Howard (Shemp) (original last name Horowitz) were later joined by Larry Fine (real name Louis Feinberg). Shemp left for a career in film (notably as trainer Knobby Walsh in the 'Joe Palooka' films), and brother Curly Howard (real name Jerome, called "Babe" by family members) took his place. Moe was throughout their career the heart and soul of the troupe, acting as both their main creative force and business manager. His daughter Joan (nee Maurer) is today the owner of the Three Stooges.
The original Three Stooges split from Healy and went on to star in nearly two hundred theatrical short films in the 30s, 40s and 50s, the longest such series in film history. Curly suffered a stroke in 1946 and Shemp returned to the trio. Shemp died of a heart attack in 1956 and Joe Besser was the fifth Stooge from 1956-1958. Besser did not want to travel and had a clause in his contract specifically prohibiting him from being hit, and so was not a good third member, and Columbia Pictures finally pulled the plug on the series of shorts, which had become unprofitable. At this point it seemed that the career of the Three Stooges was over. Columbia released the entire series to television syndication and suddenly a whole new generation of fans rediscovered them. Moe took advantage of their renewed popularity by signing up Curly Joe DeRita as the third member. They went on to make a number of successful full-length feature films over the next decade before age finally caught up with them. Their last project, "Kook's Tour"(1970), was a sort of travelogue made for TV, but was never released though available today on video. Moe also had a minor career as a non-Stooge, appearing in a few movies during the 1960s.
Larry died in early 1975. After his death, it was decided that long time Stooge short actor Emil Sitka would replace Larry, and be dubbed "The Middle Stooge". However, Moe passed on a few months later, and the general opinion was that The Three Stooges cannot continue without any of Howard family involved.
Del Lord directed more than 37 of the "Three Stooges" films. Jules White directed many others.
Real Name: Harry Moses Horwitz
Passed Away 5/4/75
Stooge years: 1922,1926 1929-1971
Real Name: Louis Feinberg
Passed Away: 1/24/75
Stooge years: 1925-1926, 1929-1971
Real Name: Jerome Horwitz
Born: 10/22/03 Passed Away: 1/18/52
Stooge years: 1934-1946
Real Name: Samuel Horwitz
Passed Away 11/23/55
Stooge years: 1922-1925, 1929-1932, 1947-1955
Real Name: Joe Besser
Passed Away: 3/1/88
Stooge years: 1955-1958
Curly Joe DeRita
Real Name: Joseph Wardell
Passed Away: 7/3/93
Stooge years: 1958-1971