Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ted Healy - He "Started" The Three Stooges

Most fans of old movies probably have never heard of Ted Healy, but to fans of The Three Stooges, he is of high importance - he "started" The Three Stooges. In his vaudeville act, with his wife Betty Braun, were 'stooges' (dictionary definition of "stooge": An entertainer who feeds lines to the main performer and frequently is the butt of the joke).

Moe Howard and his brother Shemp joined Ted Healy's act in the early 1920s, and a few years later Larry Fine joined the group. I won't get any further into their history because it can be found elsewhere. The first movie starring Ted Healy and "his stooges" was "Soup to Nuts", in 1930 (at that time, there was also a fourth stooge, Fred Sanborn). Healy and Howard, Fine and Howard appeared in several other features, as well as some comedy shorts for MGM.

When Fine and the Howards left him in 1934, Healy continued to act in several movies, mostly in comedic roles. His life ended in December of 1937, at age 41, after a night on the town, celebrating the birth of his only child, a son, a few days earlier. The circumstances of his death have long been subject to speculation, despite the "official" news release of his suffering a heart attack. I'll write more about this another time.

Needless to say, an autograph of Healy's is extremely rare, though he did sign many during his short life. However, one was offered to me, in 1990, by the same person who sold me the Olsen and Johnson signatures. The price: $5. It's a signed album page, shown below.

No comments: