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The Three Stooges - Shemp


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Shemp Howard, became one of the most famous comedy stooges in the history of stage and screen. The third eldest brother of Moe Howard, the team leader, Shemp was born Samuel Horwitz in Brooklyn, New York, on March 17, 1895.

"Shemp was given the Hebrew name Schmool, after his mother's grandfather. Schmool was Anglicized to Samuel and then shortened to Sam. When his mother, with her broad European accent, would call him, the name 'Sam' came out 'Sams,' and if you weren't listening carefully it could sound like Shemp..."

In recalling his school days, Moe has said that Shemp was not athletically inclined and as a student he was nil. He tried to pay attention in class but seemed unable to concentrate.

Sometime during the course of World War I, Moe and Shemp formed a blackface vaudeville act which disbanded for a brief period when Shemp was drafted into the army. He was discharged after only a few months (he was discovered to be a bed wetter) and rejoined Moe in vaudeville.

Shemp also had his share of phobias that he was never able to outgrow-a fear of heights, a fear of driving or being driven in a car and a fear of water. Moe told of the time that Shemp insisted he was getting seasick.. .just standing on the dock fishing. The Stooges always traveled by train whenever they went across country on personal appearance tours because of Shemp's paranoia; it was impossible to get him on an airplane. Irma Leveton recalled Shemp's fear of dogs, even though he had a dog of his own, a collie named Wags. As Leveton said: "He used to walk down the street with a stick in his hand to protect himself If a dog ever came near him, he would have fainted. There was no way he would ever hit a dog. He couldn't kill a fly. It's hard to imagine that a man with a face like that-he looked like a killer-was really a gentle man."

Joe Besser, who replaced Shemp as a third Stooge, was his good personal friend. During production on Africa Screams, Besser recalls an incident which illustrated the comedian)s inborn fear: "Every night Shemp would wait outside the studio for a cab. One time I stopped to give him a lift. He seemed nervous and didn't want to go with me. Finally, I convinced him to get in the car but he couldn't relax. In desperation, I took his hands and made him hold them as if he was holding an imaginary steering wheel, hoping that would help. He seemed more at ease but when I took off down the street, he started madly turning his hands back and forth as if he were actually driving the car!"

Shemp loved spectator sports, the more aggressive the better. It was probably a form of release for his fear and tension. He also filled his leisure time fishing, attending the fights and listening to Cole Porter)s music.

Shemp's mother wished her son to be a gentleman and according to everyone who knew him he certainly was a gentle man!


Shemp's final resting place image from www.findagrave.com


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No disrespect to Curly, but I'm a big Shemp fan. I think the "Shemp Era" films are the funniest.

One of my favorite lines, that i use a lot, when a couple guys are doing something ineptly is " the only one missing is Shemp".

Thanks for the Shemp and all the Stooge info..they still crack me up....low brow humor suits me fine. (Fine?)

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