Shemp Howard was born in Brooklyn New York, March 17th, 1895. His given name was Samuel Horwitz. The name Shemp became, of the fact, that our great-grandmother had a very heavy european accent. She would shorten his name to Sam. When she called him it sounded like Shemp. Shemp was consummate practical joker. His passion was to make people laugh. Our father Mort took this characteristic as well. Shemp attended school in Brooklyn, New York, although did not finish high school. In 1911 he enrolled at Baron DeHirsch Trade School and chose the vocation of Plumbing. After burning his hand with molten solder and numerous other mishaps, Shemp decided to chose an alternate career.
This was his turning point. The Theater.
Brother Moe and Shemp wrote down a short skit to be performed on Amateur Night at the Bath Beach Theater. Within 3 minutes of the performance, the two meet the "hook". Nonetheless, that did not quell their quest for laughs (and bucks).
In 1917, Moe & Shemp performed a Vaudeville act for RKO in which they both donned black faces. This act hailed great response and the boys kept it alive for the next 5 years!
Soon Shemp received a call form Ted Healey, a former schoolmate and also a Vaudeville comedian. Ted introduced the boys to his stage and they brought the house down! Most was ad- libed and the interplay between the two was magic. Hence the birth of Ted Healey and his Southern Gentlemen, then on to the 3 Stooges.
Shemp deciding to go it alone, soon received a solo offer and was billed in a J.J. Shubert Musical, "A Night in Spain". On the set, he met Gertrude (Babe) Frank, and it was love at first sight. They were soon married. As Babe, our grandmother recalled, "My parents never wanted me to be around the theater, never the less an actor". They wanted her to marry a professional, like her father, the banker.
Shemp returned to the Stooges after Curly suffered a stroke and continued to perform until 1955. Coming home from a boxing match sharing a cab with his friends, Shemp lit a cigar and slumped over. Naturally, his friends believed this to be yet another gag, unfortunately, it was not the case....
To be Continued...