Jerome Howard (Jerome Lester Horwitz)

Jerome Howard

Jerome Howard

He was the youngest of Jennie and Solomon Horwitz’s five sons, and because of his status as family baby, his mother would often call him “My baby,” leading his four much-older brothers to tease him by calling him Baby and later Babe, a nickname he later grew to like so much he often went by it. As a very young child he was already interested in performing, appearing in small home theatrical productions with his older brothers Moe and Shemp. He idolized these two brothers, even though he didn’t get into show business at the same time they did, due to his young age. In his youth he also made a name for himself as an accomplished dancer, singer, and musician. During his late teens, he got married for the first time. The name of his wife is unknown to this day; his mother was very opposed to the idea of him marrying while still a teenager and had this marriage annulled. It lasted less than six months. His first stage experience came in 1928, when he became a director of musical comedies for the Orville Knapp Band. He also frequently attended the vaudeville shows put on by his older brothers, Ted Healy, and Larry Fine, and hung around backstage, not only talking with them but also running errands for everyone in the show. Then in 1932, his brother Shemp decided to leave the act for acting opportunities elsewhere, no longer able to put up with Healy. He was recommended to Healy by his brother Moe and was allowed to join their act on the condition that he come up with a funny haircut like the others had. He shaved his head and later shaved off his moustache as well. This made him feel very self-conscious, and as a result he always wore a hat in public. He felt that his baldness robbed him of his masculinity and appeal to women, and also felt like a child because he had no hair. After having appeared in supporting roles in numerous features and short subjects, the two Howard brothers and Fine decided to professionally break from Healy themselves, and moved to Columbia Studios, where they would become legendary as the Three Stooges. Curly made 97 short subjects with the group, as well as appearing in a few other features and short subjects on the side, in supporting or bit roles. His screen character was that of a man-child, with an outrageous larger than life personality, but off-camera he was very shy, reserved, and soft-spoken, except when he was with his family and close friends or at parties. He was also notoriously bad about managing money, and had to have his brother Moe make out his tax returns for him and help him with managing his money so he wouldn’t be broke. His second marriage took place in June 1937, to Elaine Ackerman. This marriage produced his first child, a daughter, Marilyn. However, this marriage too was not destined to last, and Ackerman filed for divorce in July of 1940. During the next five years his health began to deteriorate, as he drank, ate, and partied in excess. In January of 1945 he was diagnosed with obesity, extreme hypertension, and a retinal hemorrhage. He had to remain at the hospital for the next few weeks while tests were run on him and he was treated for these conditions. Eight months after his release, he met Marion Buxbaum, a divorcĂ©e with a ten year old son. They married almost instantly, and this marriage too did not last long. Many of his friends and relatives felt she was using him for his money. He had never been known for being very sharp when it came to dealing with women and managing money, and this marriage seemed to prove to them yet again his lack of skills in these areas. He bought her everything she asked for, such as fur coats, jewelry, and a luxury house. All of these purchases cost a fortune, and the couple began fighting before long. They separated after only three months, and this time Curly was the one who sued for divorce. This was headline news, and proved to be very scandalous tabloid fodder. Buxbaum even spread rumors about her husband to make him look like the guilty party, and tried to get all of the money she could from him while she still had the chance. She was granted the divorce in July of 1946. His health had gotten even worse by the time the divorce was over, and that May had suffered a major stroke on the set of ‘Half-Wits’ Holiday.’ Many people close to him believed in hindsight that he had been suffering a series of minor strokes leading up to this, but he either hadn’t been aware of it or hadn’t wanted to tell anyone for fear the Three Stooges would have to disband. His brother Shemp came back into the team to take his place with his blessing. At the time everyone believed it would just be a temporary hiatus. He was given a brief cameo in their 1947 short ‘Hold That Lion!’ in the hopes it would bolster his spirits, but his health never improved to the point where he could rejoin the team.



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  • October, 22, 1903
  • Bensonhurst, Brooklyn


  • January, 18, 1952
  • San Gabriel, California

Cause of Death

  • Cerebral hemorrhage


  • Home of Peace Memorial Park
  • Los Angeles, California

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