Shemp Howard (March 11, 1895 – November 22, 1955) was an American actor and comedian. Born Samuel Horwitz, he was called "Shemp" because "Sam" came out that way in his mother's thick Litvak accent. He is best known today for his role as the third stooge in the Three Stooges, a role he first portrayed at the beginning of the act in the early 1920s (1923-1932) while the act was still associated with Ted Healy and known as "Ted Healy and his Stooges," and again from 1947 until his death in 1955. Between his times with the Stooges, Shemp had a successful film career as a solo comedian.
In September 1925, Shemp (at age 30) married Gertrude Frank, a fellow New Yorker. They had one child, Morton (1926–1972).
Shemp used his somewhat homely appearance for comic effect, often mugging grotesquely or allowing his hair to fall in disarray. He even played along with a publicity stunt that named him "The Ugliest Man in Hollywood." ("I'm hideous," he explained to reporters.)
Notoriously phobic, his fears included airplanes, automobiles, dogs and water. According to Moe's autobiography, Shemp was involved in a driving accident as a teenager and never obtained a driver's license.
On November 22, 1955, Shemp went out with his friends Al Winston and Bobby Silverman to a boxing match (one of Shemp's favorite pastimes), at the old Hollywood Legion Stadium (at North El Centro Avenue and Selma Avenue), located just one block above the Hollywood Palladium. While returning home in a taxicab that evening, he died of a sudden massive cerebral hemorrhage, at the age of 60. He was leaning back and lighting a cigar after telling a joke, when he suddenly slumped over on his friend Al Winston's lap. Al thought Shemp was playing a joke, since Shemp was laughing moments earlier, but realizing he was actually dead.
Moe's autobiography gives a death date of November 23, 1955, as do most subsequent accounts, because of Moe's book. But much of that book was finished posthumously by his daughter and son-in-law, and some specific details were confused as a result. The Los Angeles county coroner's death certificate states that Shemp Howard died on Tuesday, November 22, 1955, at 11:00 [PM] PST; confirming that, Shemp's obituary appeared in the November 23 afternoon editions of L.A. newspapers, establishing the night of November 22 as the date of death. According to former daughter-in-law Geri Greenbaum, Shemp's death happened just as their cab came over the rise on Barham Boulevard (heading to his Toluca Lake home).
He was interred in a crypt at the Home of Peace Cemetery in East Los Angeles. Shemp's younger brother Curly is also interred in an outdoor tomb in the Western Jewish Institute section, there, as well as his parents Solomon and Jennie Horowitz, and older brother Benjamin "Jacob/Jack."