Born Samuel Horwitz, Shemp Howard and his brother, Moe Howard, were two of the original Three Stooges, one of the most successful acts of the vaudeville era, and also one of the few to make the jump to cinema. Shemp would come and go from the Stooges over the years, being replaced by his and Moe’s brother Curly in the lineup. In between times, Shemp was a fairly successful stand up comedian.
His stage name was derived from how his nickname, Sam, sounded when pronounced by his mother, who had a thick Litvak accent. Shemp was famous for his ability to improvise, and his quick wits belied the foolish image of the Stooges. In his solo years, he also performed in a few dramatic roles, showing a range that few would have suspected.
Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone (best known for his four Charlie Chan films made from 1936 to 1938), “To The Shores of Tripoli” takes its named from a line of the Marine Corps Hymn. Like “Casablanca”, it was in production when that attack on Pearl Harbour took place, and the entry of America into the war led to changes in its plotline. From being simply a romance about Maureen O’Hara’s character, it changed to focus more on John Payne’s character enlisting.
The film was a hit in 1942, grossing 2 million dollars. It was credited by the US Marine Corps (who assisted in the film’s making by allowing the use of the actual Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego) as a major recruitment tool for them during the war.
The 1983 Australian Federal election was a smashing victory for the Australian Labor Party under Bob Hawke – which, as displaced ALP leader Bill Hayden commented, could have been led by a drover’s dog and still won. Sour grapes aside, the election was significant in that it ended 8 years of Liberal-National Coalition government, and also in that Hawke would go on to become the longest-serving ALP Prime Minister in Australian history.
His right hand man, a tall fella named Paul Keating – a ten year veteran of Federal Parliament and a notorious smart-arse – would become Treasurer of Australia in Hawke’s new Cabinet, and preside over a tumultuous but overall successful period of dramatic economic reform.