Hollywood Remains to Be Seen

Ted Healy
1896 - 1937

Calvary Cemetery

Though largely forgotten today, Ted Healy was the founder and first leader of the comedy team that later became the Three Stooges.

After an unsuccessful career as a businessman, Healy became a successful comedian in vaudeville, telling jokes and doing impressions. For a time, Healy was the highest-paid entertainer on the vaudeville circuit, earning as much as $8,500 per week in the early 1920s. In 1922, Healy decided to add a "stooge" to his act, to help him with the physical slapstick comedy, so he called on his boyhood friend, Moe Howard. Later, Howard's brother Shemp was added to the act, which was now known as "Ted Healy and His Stooges."

As the act gained notoriety and success, a third Stooge -- violinist Larry Fine -- was added to the group in 1925. With his trio of Stooges, Healy appeared in a string of successful Broadway shows before heading west to Hollywood to make short, two-reel comedies.

After their first film, "From Soup to Nuts" was made in 1930, Shemp left the act, and was replaced by another Howard brother, Jerome -- better known as Curly. After appearing in 10 films with Healy, Moe, Larry and Curly left the act in 1934, and Healy went on to play supporting roles in about two dozen films during the next few years. Surprisingly, most were dramas or mysteries, not comedies, including "Reckless" (1935) with Jean Harlow and William Powell, "San Francisco" (1936) with Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy, and "Speed" (1936) with Jimmy Stewart. Healy also played Harlow's brother in "Bombshell" (1933). His last film was "Hollywood Hotel" (1938), a Busby Berkeley musical starring Dick Powell.

The generally accepted story behind the cause of Healy's death in 1937 is that he was out celebrating the birth of his first child when he got involved in a fight at the Trocadedo night club on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Healy suffered serious head injuries in the fight, and died later in his apartment, a few weeks before his 41st birthday. The official autopsy report, however, showed that Healy died of a heart attack, and attributed his death to natural causes.

Healy was born Charles Earnest Lee Nash on October 1, 1896, in Kaufman, TX.. He died Sept. 12, 1937, in Los Angeles, CA.

Back to biographies page