The Three Stooges, active from 1925 to 1970, were one of the most endearing and entertaining comedy acts that many of us grew up watching. The characters of Moe, Larry, and Curly made us laugh. They were prolific producers of short comedy films – at their peak, they produced eight shorts every year! I recently spent some time learning more about these beloved comedians by finding their obituaries in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.
They originally got their start as stooges (Moe Howard, Shemp Howard, and Larry Fine) for Ted Healy. Shemp and Ted didn’t work well together and Shemp moved on to other projects. Jerome a.k.a. “Curly,” Moe and Shemp’s younger brother, then took Shemp’s place and the trio eventually left Healy to form their own comedy act, “The Three Stooges.” Curly remained one of the Stooges until his debilitating stroke in 1946. He was known for his high-pitched voice and childlike antics. He died in a care center on 18 January 1952.
Shemp returned to the act after Jerome’s stroke to fill in for his brother. What was supposed to be a temporary gig lasted for several years. Shemp filled in until his death of heart failure on 22 November 1955. Other stooges filled in for Shemp in the following years.
Larry provided the voice of reason for the group, although his character wasn’t very reasonable. He died on 24 January 1975 of a stroke.
While most of the Stooges struggled with finances, Moe was a wise businessman and invested his earnings. His onscreen character was a bully, but that didn’t reflect his true personality. He was 77 when he died of lung cancer on 4 May 1975.
As people have indexed some of the Stooges’ obituaries as part of the GenealogyBank and FamilySearch agreement, memories of happy childhood experiences have flooded back. While The Three Stooges have all died, they continue to bring joy to others through the lasting legacy of their comedy.
Image Source #1: GenealogyBank.com, Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 20 January 1952, page 11.
Image Source #2: GenealogyBank.com, Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, California), 23 November 1955, page 1.
Image Source #3: GenealogyBank.com, San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 25 January 1975, page 15.
Image Source #4: GenealogyBank.com, San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 6 May 1975, page 10.