Curly Howard real name Jerome Lester Horwitz was born on October 22, 1903. He was best known as a member of the American farce comedy team the Three Stooges which also featured his elder brothers Moe and Shemp Howard and actor Larry Fine.
Curly Howard was generally considered the most popular and recognizable of the Stooges. He was well known for his high-pitched voice and vocal expressions ("nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!", "woob-woob-woob!", "soitenly!"(certainly), and barking like a dog) as well as his physical comedy (e.g., falling on the ground and pivoting on his shoulder as he "walked" in circular motion), improvisations, and athleticism. An untrained actor, Curly borrowed (and significantly exaggerated) the "woob woob" from "nervous" and soft-spoken comedian Hugh Herbert.
Howard's childlike mannerisms and natural comedic charm made him a hit with audiences, particularly children. Many times, directors would simply let the camera roll freely and let Howard improvise. Writers would leave gaps in the Stooge scripts where Curly could improvise for several minutes.
Off screen, Curley was an introvert, he generally kept to himself, rarely socializing with people unless he had been drinking (which he would increasingly turn to as the stresses of his career grew.) Curly simply refrained from engaging in "crazy antics" unless he was in his element: with family, performing or intoxicated.
By the time the Stooges hit their peak in the late 1930s, their films had almost become vehicles for his uninhibited comic performances. Moe Howard later confirmed that when Curly forgot his lines, that merely allowed him to improvise on the spot so that the "take" could continue uninterrupted.
In 1944, Howard's energy began to fall. After the filming of the feature-length Rockin; in the Rockies (December 1944), he finally checked himself (at Moe's insistence) into Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, California on January 23, 1945, and was diagnosed with extreme hypertension, a retinal hemorrhage, and obesity. His ill health forced him to rest, leading to only five shorts being released in 1945.
In January 1945, Shemp had been recruited to substitute for a resting Curly during live performances in New Orleans. After Curly's 1946 stroke, Shemp agreed to replace him, but only until his younger brother was well enough to rejoin the act.
Curly suffered a second massive stroke in 1947, which left him partially paralyzed. In February 1951, he was placed in a nursing home, where he suffered another stroke a month later.
During World War II, the Stooges entertained servicemen constantly, and the intense work schedule took its toll on Curly. He found constant companionship in his dogs and often befriended strays whenever the Stooges were traveling.
After three failed marriages, on July 31, 1947, he married Valerie Newman, and remained married until his death.
He died January 18, 1952, of a massive stroke.