Ted Healy - Biography

US vaudevillian who in 1923 founded a stage act known as "Ted Healy & His Stooges," the latter comprising one Moe Howard and his brother, Shemp Howard, whose roles were to act as foils, or stooges, for Healy's jokes. Joined later by Larry Fine, the Howards later went off on their own, eventually to call themselves "The Three Stooges." Over the years there would be six stooges in all. When Shemp left the act to try a solo career, he was replaced by a third Howard brother, the shy, bumbling Jerome "Curly" Howard. Later, when Curly Howard suffered a debilitating stroke, Shemp would return to replace him. Later still, after Shemp's death in 1955, Joe Besser, a short, heavyset, effeminate-acting veteran of stage and screen comedy, would join the act in Shemp's place. Besser, however, unwilling to tolerate the sort of violent, physical slapstick that was the Stooges' trademark, left the act in 1958, to be replaced by the sixth and final Stooge, Joe DeRita, who was given the moniker "Curly-Joe."
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