American comedian and stooge (1903-1952). Birth name: Jerome Lester Horwitz. He was born in Bath Beach, New York. The youngest of the five Horwitz boys, he got tagged with the nickname "Babe" by his brother Moses (who later adopted the name Moe). He was a quiet kid and didn't give anyone much trouble -- his brothers Moses and Samuel (who also eventually took a nickname: Shemp) were considered the family hellraisers. All three got interested in performing when they were kids and often put together small theatrical shows for their friends.
While attending a summer camp, Curly accidentally shot himself in the foot with a rifle. He never let the injury heal properly and walked with a limp from that point on. In fact, the goofy exaggerated walk he had in his movies came about as an attempt to mask the limp onscreen.
Curly was not a particularly good student and never finished school, but he was considered a good athlete, excelling at schoolyard basketball. He also loved music -- he became an outstanding ballroom dancer and was a regular at the Triangle Ballroom in Brooklyn. He also sang and played the ukelele.
Curly got married sometime in his late teens to a girl whose name has apparently now been completely forgotten, but his mother had always been opposed to the marriage, which was annulled after just six months. While Moe, Shemp, and Larry Fine performed in vaudeville as Ted Healy's Stooges, Curly got his first professional performing gig in 1928 as a comedic guest conductor for the Orville Knapp Band. However, he enjoyed sitting backstage and watching his brothers perform.
In 1932, Shemp quit the act, disgusted with Healy's drunkenness and mistreatment of the Stooges. Curly was quickly brought in as a replacement, though Healy insisted that Curly shave off his wavy brown hair and waxed mustache. He was never happy about having to shave his head, feeling that it made him look like a little kid again. Depressed, he started to drink heavily. Moe handled Curly's money, because his brother had proven to be unable to handle his cash. He spent all of his paychecks on alcohol, women, and new houses, cars, and dogs (Curly apparently loved dogs).
Still, Curly's style of wacky comedy (his trademark "Nyuk Nyuk"s, "Woo Woo Woo"s, and "Soitenly"s are still fondly remembered today) helped elevate the Three Stooges to new heights of popularity. They were able to make their break from Healy and move on to the world of film, starring in a long series of short comedies for Columbia Pictures.
While Curly's screen image was that of an absolute goofball, he was actually very introverted and barely spoke on the set unless the cameras were running. He was also fairly quiet when around family and friends, though he loosened up quite a bit once he got some drink in him. Curly tried to avoid any slapstick when around strangers, though he and the other Stooges would indulge in some antics if they were alone with family or close friends.
For all of Curly's success, however, he was eventually brought down by the influences of alcohol and women. In 1937, he married Elaine Ackerman, and they had a daughter, Marilyn, the next year. The marriage dissolved fairly rapidly, and they divorced in 1940. He spent the next five years eating, drinking, and gaining weight, and in early 1945, entered Santa Barbara's Cottage Hospital for treatment of obesity, extreme hypertension, and a retinal hemorrhage. Less than a year later, he met and married Marion Buxbaum. They separated just three months later, and the ensuing divorce proceedings made all the scandal rags. Curly had bought Marion fur coats, jewelry, and a new house while they were together, and she took him for quite a bit more afterwards.
Curly had a stroke in May of 1946, while filming "Half-Wits Holiday." He took a year off to recuperate and, while still recovering, met Valerie Newman and got married for a fourth time. Unlike his previous wives, Valerie (who was also on her fourth marriage) actually seemed to care for Curly. The union produced another daughter, Janie, but Curly's health declined quickly, and Valerie had to nurse him through a series of health crises.
Curly's last appearance in one of the Stooges' movies came in 1947's "Hold that Lion." He had a bit part as a thin, loudly snoring train passenger, and he had a head full of hair! He'd hoped to return to make more pictures with the Stooges, but his health just didn't hold out.
In 1949, he had his second stroke and ended up partially paralyzed. His doctors confined him to a wheelchair and put him on a diet of apples and boiled rice. Curly lost a lot of weight, but he was very weak; it took several months for his health to improve enough to allow him to go home, and even then, he was bedridden for most of the rest of his life. He was briefly placed in a nursing home, but suffered another stroke and was moved out because the home didn't meet the state's fire codes. He was re-hospitalized in April of 1951, but his mind was deteriorating too quickly. Moe ruled out placing his baby brother in a mental hospital, and in early 1952, Curly was moved to the Baldy View Sanitarium in San Gabriel, California, where he died 11 days later.
Research from http://www.3-stooges.com/text/curly.html and the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)