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Ted Healy

From Academic Kids

Ted Healy (October 1, 1896 - December 21, 1937) was an American vaudeville performer and actor. His real name was Clarence Earnest Lee Nash. He is chiefly remembered today as the original employer of the Three Stooges, but had a successful career of his own.

In 1912 Lee Nash and his childhood friend Moe Howard joined the Annette Kellerman Diving Girls (a vaudeville act which included four boys). The job ended quickly, though, after an accident on stage, and Nash and Howard went separate ways. Nash then developed a blackface act and adopted the stage name Ted Healy.

Healy's act was successful, and he added performers to it, including his new wife Betty. When some of his acrobats quit in 1922, Moe Howard answered the advertisement Healy placed for replacements. Since Howard was not an acrobat, Healy cast his old friend as a stooge, someone who impersonated a member of the audience called on stage. Howard's appearance on stage ended with Healy losing his trousers.

Howard's brother Shemp joined the act soon after as a heckler, then Larry Fine joined in 1925, after which the act became known as Ted Healy and his Southern Gentlemen.

Howard took a break from show business in the late 1920s, and shortly after he returned he, his brother, and Fine left after falling out with Healy over a movie contract. Shortly afterward Healy sued the Stooges for their use of his material, but since the copyright was held by the Shubert Theatre Corporation, for which it had been produced, and the Stooges had the Shuberts' permission to use it, Healy lost the suit.

Healy continued to have great success in vaudeville, however. The Stooges rejoined his act in 1932, obtaining higher salaries and a promise from Healy to quit drinking. Healy did not quit drinking, however, and when in 1934 he reduced the Stooges' salary they quit again.

Healy then went on to establish a promising career in motion pictures, where he was successful in both comedic and dramatic roles before his early death from injuries sustained during a streetfight.

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