Edit
Joe Besser Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (10)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 12 August 1907St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Date of Death 1 March 1988North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameJoseph Besser
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Joe Besser was born on August 12, 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri. Short, chubby, balding, childish character actor who began his career on the vaudeville circuit before breaking into films in the early 1930s. He was a frequent foil of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in their films and played Stinky on their 1950s situation comedy. Joe joined The Three Stooges in 1956, but quit the team to be with his ailing wife in 1958. He spent the 1960s appearing in numerous films and television series, including 88 performances on The Joey Bishop Show (1961) and a regular role as the voice of Babu on the animated series Jeannie (1973). Joe Besser died at age 80 of heart failure on March 1, 1988 in North Hollywood, California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael J. Bauman <mbauman@acsu.buffalo.edu>

Spouse (1)

Erna Kay (18 November 1932 - 1 March 1988) (his death)

Trade Mark (1)

His ability to play young children although he was a middle aged man

Trivia (10)

The only member of The Three Stooges team who was more successful in his solo career than he was with the Stooges.
When Columbia shut down its shorts department, The Three Stooges were forced to take the act on the road, and Besser was invited to go. However, he refused because he had to be home to take care of his sick wife. He was not fired as the legend has it.
After Shemp Howard died, Moe Howard and Larry Fine wanted to continue as "The Two Stooges." Four shorts remained to be filmed. The Stooges made them, all remakes with stock footage and with new scenes that included a fake Shemp (Joe Palma). The Stooges then became three again with the addition of Besser as the third Stooge. Initially, because Besser was afraid of being hurt, Larry offered to take the slaps for him. As the making of the films progressed, and Besser became more comfortable with the team and its shtick, he took his share of slaps, eye-pokes, nose tweaks and pies in the face as his predecessors. So did Larry.
He began his career in show business as a song plugger for a St. Louis-based music company, and later became a comedy assistant to the great magician Howard Thurston.
Was the only member of The Three Stooges to use his actual birth name in the act. All of the other Stooges, and even Ted Healy, used stage or Americanized names.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald S. Smith, pg. 51. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
His favorite comedians were Jack Benny, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and Ann Miller is his choice for actress.
Parents are Morris and Fanny Besser; had seven older sisters and an older brother: Manny Besser.
Following his death, he was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Never saw any of The Three Stooges shorts he was in.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page