Every Stooge Has His Day
I came. I saw. I nyuk-nyuk-nyukked.
That’s what Julius Caesar might have bellowed had he lived long enough to witness the resurgence of the Three Stooges empire with the first Three Stooges West Coast Convention, held last weekend at the Hilton Burbank Airport Hotel.
Devoted to all things Moe, Larry and Curly (with nods to reserve Stooges Shemp, Joe Besser and Curly Joe DeRita), the convention celebrated their tradition of over-the-top, cartoon violence-laden brand of broad comedy with the intensity of a High Holiday shabbaton . With scores of Curlies roaming around woo-woo-wooing the crowds, a Larry impersonator assaulting bystanders with silly string and wanna-be Moes looming with a scowl around every corner, the convention was slightly south of Heaven for those marginal fans who get Stooge indigestion after a 20-minute short.
What probably escaped many of the fans in attendance is that several of the Stooges came from Orthodox Jewish homes. Indeed, the Howard Brothers, Shemp (nee Samuel Horwitz), Moe (Moses Horwitz) and Curly (Jerome Horwitz) were raised in an observant Bensonhurst home by their parents, clothing cutter Solomon Horwitz and his wife, Jennie (incidentally, the Howards had two other brothers, Jack and Irving, although they never entered show business).
“My dad was a very religious man in his youth,” Maurer Howard, daughter of Mo, told Up Front. “Up in [my] attic is a box with his shawl, his tallis, yamulke , bible and tefillin that he carried.”
Although Moe Howard moved away from an observant lifestyle as he began to tour in vaudeville shows, Maurer Howard recalled that her parents “always celebrated the major holidays. She [Mother] would have a traditional dinner and that was a way of getting the whole family together.”
Maurer Howard also points out that a lot of yiddishkayt found its way into the more than 140 shorts made by the legendary comic troupe.
No official panel or presentation charted the leap from the Stooges’ observant Jewish upbringing to their violence-saturated brand of entertainment, but perhaps the second annual convention will shed some light (or at least spritz some seltzer water) on this matter. — Michael Aushenker, Community Editor
If you couldn’t tell from our cover, it’s back-to-school time. For those parents among you who would like your children to do well in school — we assume there’s more than a few of you — consider attending the Bureau of Jewish Education’s 2 1/2 hour seminar, “Motivating Your Child for Success at School.”
The seminar, the first in a series on helping children, will be held Sept. 15 from 7-9 p.m. at Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd. It will be led by Richard E. Clark, Ph.D., director of professional studies for the School of Education at USC.
Seating is limited and pre-registration is advised. Tickets ($12) are available by calling (323) 761-8605.