The Curse of the Three Stooges

by jcaraway3 | created - 26 Aug 2012 | updated - 25 Jan 2014 | Public

Many of the actors and actresses who appeared in The Three Stooges shorts and feature films lead suprisingly sad lives that ended tragically. Here is a list of some of them, by no means complete.

1. Curly Howard

Actor | An Ache in Every Stake

Jerome "Curly" Howard, the rotund, bald Stooge with the high voice was the most popular member of The Three Stooges. His first stage experience was as a comedic conductor for the Orville Knapp Band in 1928. Curly joined The Three Stooges in 1932, replacing his brother Shemp Howard. He made more ...

Curly Howard's physical and mental health deteriorated severely in the final years of his life, after suffering from several strokes. He eventually died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage in 1952.

2. Shemp Howard

Actor | Soup to Nuts

Shemp Howard was born Samuel Horwitz in Brooklyn, New York, USA. He was also the brother of fellow stooges Moe Howard and Curly Howard. Larry Fine was not related to any of the other stooges.

When not working with The Three Stooges, Shemp made a lot of feature film appearances, such as The Bank Dick...

Shemp Howard died of a heart attack at the age of 60.

3. Ted Healy

Actor | Mad Love

US vaudevillian who in 1923 founded a stage act known as "Ted Healy & His Stooges," the latter comprising one Moe Howard and his brother, Shemp Howard, whose roles were to act as foils, or stooges, for Healy's jokes. Joined later by Larry Fine, the Howards later went off on their own, eventually to...

Ted Healy, the original "Boss Stooge" was known for his crass, drunken behavior off set. He picked a fight in a bar and was beaten to death by persons unknown in 1937. He was 41.

4. Marjorie White

Actress | Sunnyside Up

Pretty-as-a-picture Marjorie White was a charming comedienne, and although she was never the star, she stole many scenes from stars. She co-starred with some of the leading comediennes of the day, such as Wheeler and Woolsey, the Three Stooges, and Joe E. Brown, and brought smiles to the faces of ...

The first leading lady in a Stooges Columbia short, Marjorie died in a car crash at the age of 31.

5. Richard Fiske

Actor | Across the Sierras

Richard Fiske was born on November 20, 1915 in Shelton, Washington, USA as Thomas Richard Potts. He was an actor, known for Across the Sierras (1941), The Man from Sundown (1939) and The Major and the Minor (1942). He was married to Marjorie Jean MacGregor. He died on August 10, 1944 in La ...

Known for playing the drill instructer in the classic stooge short "Boobs in Arms" Fiske was killed in France while fighting in WWII. He was 28.

6. Bud Jamison

Actor | Their First Tintype

Bud Jamison was born on February 15, 1895 in Vallejo, California, USA as William Edward Jaimison. He was an actor, known for Their First Tintype (1920), Captain Caution (1940) and Wolves of the Air (1927). He was married to Georgia Kathleen Holland. He died on September 30, 1944 in Hollywood, Los ...

Bud was known for playing the comic "Straight man" in stooge shorts from 1934 to 1944. He suffered from diabetes, and died after going into diabetic shock in 1944. He was a Christian Scientist, and refused treatment.

7. Larry Fine

Actor | Scrambled Brains

Larry began performing as a violinist at a young age. During his teenage years, he earned his living as a singer and boxer. At 18, Larry began working vaudeville with "The Haney Sisters and Fine" and in 1925, he joined Ted Healy and Moe Howard in the act that would eventually become The Three ...

Larry lived to the age of 72, but his son died in a car accident in 1961, his wife died of a heart attack in 1967, and his daughter died of cancer in 1989.

8. Vernon Dent

Actor | Malice in the Palace

Familiar to many as the frustrated cop, businessman or landlord in countless two-reel comedies by The Three Stooges, Vernon Dent got his start in show business as a member of a singing troupe traveling in Southern California in the early 1920s. He was befriended by comedian Hank Mann, a member of ...

Vernon often played the villain of straight man in Stooges Shorts for nearly 20 years. He also suffered from diabetes, and spent the remaining years of his life blind. He died of a heart attack in 1963.

9. Duke York

Actor | Flash Gordon

Duke York Jr. has a long resume as one of Hollywood's best stunt men. He is still often seen on TV today although audiences may not recognize him. He is most often seen today as the various "monsters" that confronted The Three Stooges during the 1940s, and as King Kala (wearing a bald cap) in the ...

Duke played the giant hulking monsters in several stooges shorts in the 40s. He committed suicide by a gunshot to the head in 1952, aged 43.

10. Kitty McHugh

Actress | The Grapes of Wrath

Kitty McHugh was born on October 3, 1902 in Harmony, Pennsylvania, USA as Katherine McHugh. She was an actress, known for The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Blonde Trouble (1937) and Wife Insurance (1937). She was married to Ned Glass. She died on September 3, 1954 in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, ...

She appeared in three Three Stooges shorts, most notably the bitter landlady in "Gents in a Jam." She committed suicide in 1954.

11. Philip Van Zandt

Actor | Citizen Kane

Philip Van Zandt was born on October 4, 1904 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands as Philip Pinheiro. He was an actor, known for Citizen Kane (1941), His Kind of Woman (1951) and House of Frankenstein (1944). He died on February 15, 1958 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

He often played the comical villain role in the Shemp and Joe Besser era shorts. He committed suicide by an overdose of sleeping pills in 1958, after losing his money to gambling debts.

12. Cy Schindell

Actor | The Face Behind the Mask

Cy Schindell was born on March 4, 1907 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA as Seymour Schindell. He was an actor, known for The Face Behind the Mask (1941), The Devil Commands (1941) and Two-Fisted Gentleman (1936). He died on August 24, 1948 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA.

He played the villainous tough guy/ sidekick in many Curly and Shemp era shorts. He got jungle rot while serving in WWII, which developed into terminal cancer. In later shorts, he is seen with heavy makeup on his face to cover his tumors. He died in 1948, at the age of 41.

13. Clyde Bruckman

Writer | The General

Had been out of work and was pretty much broke when he killed himself. He borrowed Buster Keaton's gun and after eating a meal that he could not pay for, shot himself. There are two stories; One says it was in the restroom of the cafe on Santa Monica Blvd, and the other story states he did it in ...

Wrote many Three Stooges shorts in the 30s and 40s, Clyde became depressed about the television killing the film shorts department, and committed suicide in 1955.

14. Wesley Bly

Actor | Three Arabian Nuts

Wesley Bly was born on July 10, 1909 in Oklahoma, USA. He was an actor, known for Three Arabian Nuts (1951). He died on November 26, 1959 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Wesley Bly played the genie "Amos" in the short "Three Arabian Nuts". He was stabbed to death in 1959 during a confrontation with a woman in a bar.

15. Jack 'Tiny' Lipson

Actor | Flash Gordon

Jack 'Tiny' Lipson was born on January 17, 1901 in Denver, Colorado, USA. He was an actor, known for Flash Gordon (1936), Flying Fists (1937) and One Man Justice (1937). He died on November 28, 1947 in Madera County, California, USA.

He appeared in several Curly shorts. He was obese and died of a heart attack at the age of 46.

16. Eddie Laughton

Actor | Highway Patrol

Eddie Laughton was born on June 20, 1903 in Sheffield, Yorkshire [now South Yorkshire], England as Edgar Hugh Loughton. He was an actor, known for Highway Patrol (1938), Canal Zone (1942) and My Son Is a Criminal (1939). He was married to Mary Eaton, Dorothea M. Appel and Lytha M. Pratt McPhail. He...

Eddie played various roles in many Stooge shorts. He died of pneumonia in 1948.

17. Harry Cohn

Producer | Ransom

He was crude, uneducated, foul and, even on his best behavior, abrasive. No major studio executive of the so-called "Golden Age" was more loathed (although at times the dictatorial Samuel Goldwyn and the hard-nosed Jack L. Warner came close) than Harry Cohn.

Born in the middle of 5 children to ...

The head honcho of Columbia pictures, Harry was responsible for the success The Three Stooges found in the short subject department. He died of a sudden heart attack at 66.

18. James C. Morton

Director | A Daughter of Uncle Sam

James C. Morton was born on August 25, 1884 in Helena, Montana, USA as James Carmody Lankton. He was an actor and director, known for A Daughter of Uncle Sam (1918), Lucky Devils (1941) and The Devil's Brother (1933). He died on October 24, 1942 in Reseda, California, USA.

Known for playing the toupee wearing court clerk in "Disorder in the Court", Morton died of a sudden heart attack at 58.

19. Symona Boniface

Actress | Girls' Dormitory

An American actress most frequently seen in bit parts in comedy shorts, mostly at Columbia Pictures, particularly those of The Three Stooges, Symona Boniface entered the theatre as a playwright and actress, and produced plays as well. After the stock market crash of 1929 she began taking bit parts ...

Symona oftentimes played snotty, upperclass women who would have unfortunate run ins with the Stooges. She died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 56.

20. Nanette Bordeaux

Actress | Women in Bondage

Nanette Bordeaux was born on April 3, 1911 in St. George, Québec, Canada as Helene Olivine Veilleux. She was an actress, known for Women in Bondage (1943), My Little Margie (1952) and Income Tax Sappy (1954). She died on September 20, 1956 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA.

She appeared in several Shemp era shorts, (and one Besser short)as the "French" girl in the various trios of girls the stooges would run into. She died bronchopneumonia in 1956.