Curly Howard was the youngest of the three Howard brothers. His real name was Jerome Lester Horwitz, but it was as Curly that he captured the hearts of America, becoming the best loved of the Three Stooges. His performance was notable for its physicality, even in the days of vaudeville, when comedy was more physical in general – one of his recurring set pieces was breaking things over his head.
Curly, more than the other Stooges, was also famous for his catchphrases, suck as his trademark ‘nyuk nyuk nyuk’ laugh or his exaggerated Brooklyn accent on words like certainly (‘soitenly’) and circumstance (‘soicumstance’). Unfortunately, his health was never good, and he died aged only 48 in January of 1952.
Born in Chicago, Harrison Ford would rise from humble beginnings to become one of the best known and highest grossing movie stars of his era. He is best known for his roles as Han Solo in the Star Wars film series and Indiana Jones in the four films of that series. To a certain generation of filmgoer, he defined rugged manliness in the way that Eastwood or Wayne had before him.
Ford’s family has a highly mixed background – his paternal grandfather was Irish, his paternal grandmother German, and his maternal grandparents Jews from Belarus. When asked about the effect this had on his life, Ford jokingly replied “As a man I’ve always felt Irish, as an actor I’ve always felt Jewish.”
Born Moses Harry Horwitz, Moe Howard and his brother, Shemp 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. Moe would come to be seen as the leader of the Stooges over the years, being the longest standing member of the lineup and frequently playing that role in their appearances.
Moe was one of the only two members of the Stooges to be in every lineup (Harry was the other, and a total of four other actors filled the third slot at various points). He was also the longest lived of the original Stooges, surviving until 1975.
Born Frances Rose Shore in Winchester, Tennessee, Dinah Shore almost didn’t become a star. She studied at Vanderbilt University, graduating in 1938 with a degree in sociology, but the pull of the stage was too great. She worked hard at her musical career for a while, with reasonable success, but it was television that made her a household name.
As the host of “The Dinah Shore Show” from 1951 to 1956 and “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show” from 1956 to 1963, she was a weekly presence on American television. By the end of her career, in 1992, she had won three Emmys for her work on the small screen. Shore was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1993, and died in 1994 a few days short of her 78th birthday.
Whether you know him best as Jim Kirk, Denny Crane or TJ Hooker, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve never heard of Wild Bill Shatner. But did you know he’s Canadian? And Jewish?
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Shatner has two sisters, and has been acting since 1954, when he first performed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. He would go on to become one of the most well-known faces in television history and fan favourite actor. In recent years, his growing willingness to laugh at himself has brought him new fans and won back some of the ones he pissed off in his infamous 1986 appearance on Saturday Night Live (in which he advised fans to “get a life” – it was meant as a joke, but it cut too close to the bone for many).
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.
Future pro football player, actor, possible murderer and man with no grasp whatsoever of tact or irony Orenthal James Simpson was born in San Francisco, where he also grew up and went to school. He went to the University of Southern California on a football scholarship in 1967, where he excelled. He turned pro in 1969, and played for the next decade. Before his retirement from pro football, he had already begun acting.
But none of this is the reason he is remembered today. His true claim to fame is either a) getting away with the murder of his wife and another man, or b) proving his innocence for trumped up claims of murder, depending on your point of view.
The Chanukah Song (Part I) — Adam Sandler
The Chanukah Song (Part II) — Adam Sandler
Better known respectively by their noms du plume, Ann Landers and Dear Abby, Esther Pauline Friedman and Pauline Esther Friedman are perhaps the two best known advice columnists in American publishing history. Eppie’s “Ask Ann Landers” column ran from 1955 to 2002, while Paulione’s “Dear Abby” ran from 1956 until the present, although Pauline’s daughter took over the writing of it from 2000.
The twins were highly competitive, and writing two such similar columns led to a cycle of recriminations and reconciliations between them, but it didn’t stop either of them from becoming two of the most influential women in America. Both were refreshingly frank and unsentimental about dealing with people’s problems, but always empathetic. Eppie was more left-leaning, favouring, among other things, the legalisation of prostitution and equal rights for homosexuals, while Pauline’s characteristic style was marked by her brevity and somewhat abrasive humour. America felt that it could tell them anything, and both women were known to publish only some letters – the more personal and difficult problems would often receive direct letters (occasionally, in cases of great urgency, telegrams) in reply to their missives.
Best known for the role of Mr Spock in the “Star Trek” franchise, Leonard Simon Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts, although he has spent most of his adult life living and working in Los Angeles. He began acting in 1951 with a role in a film titled “Rhubarb”.
Other than Mr Spock, a character he has had a vexed relationship with over the years, Nimoy’s best known roles were Paris in the original “Mission Impossible” and Dr. David Kibner in the 1978 remake of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.
One of the greatest actors of the Twentieth Century, Paul Newman starred in – among others – “The Hustler”. “The Sting”, “The Great Escape”, “Hud”, “Cool Hand Luke”, “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Cars”. In his time, he was nominated for an Academy Award nine times, although he won only one (Best Actor, for “The Color of Money” a sequel to “The Hustler”).
From the mid-Sixties onwards, Newman was increasingly active politically – his opposition to the Vietnam War scored him a place on Richard Nixon’s Enemies List – and also became a notable philanthropist.