Actor and Vaudevillian. In 1908 his family moved from Texas to New York, where he finished his high school education. Originally he had planned on becoming a businessman, but after over a decade of flirting with a career in show business, including a brief stint as one of the diving "girls" in an aquatic act in the summer of 1912, he finally entered vaudeville around 1919. His act started out as impromptu comedy, since at this early stage of his career he hadn't mastered the art of memorizing his lines. He usually did burlesque jokes, a blackface act, and impersonations of film stars of the day, such as Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor, and performed in local amateur shows. Although his audiences liked what they saw, he realized that he could only go so far in the amateur circuit. At this point he changed his name from Charles Earnest Lee Nash to Ted Healy and turned to the professional vaudeville and Broadway circuits full-time. He also began to wear a comically crushed hat as part of his stage persona. In 1922 he married Betty Brown, a singer and dancer, who became part of his act. They divorced in 1932. Healy, who by now was writing all of his own sketches, quickly became the highest-paid vaudevillian in America. The same year he married for the first time, he brought his boyhood friends Moe and Shemp Howard into his act as his stooges, and the name of the act went from "Ted and Betty Healy: The Flapper and the Philosopher" to "Ted Healy and His Stooges." He felt it was necessary to have stooges to play off of because they could absorb the brunt of his physical comedy and make the audience laugh more. In 1925 he added a vaudevillian violinist, Larry Fine, to his act, and his act moved from vaudeville to Broadway. After a series of Broadway shows, they appeared in the 1930 feature-length film 'From Soup to Nuts.' Prior to this Healy had only appeared in one film, a 1926 two-reel comedy produced for Hal Roach, 'Wise Guys Prefer Brunettes.' After this film Shemp Howard left the act to start a solo career, and Healy was prevailed upon to let his youngest brother Jerome, later nicknamed Curly, into the act in his place so he would still have three stooges. In 1933 and 1934 the four of them appeared in a total of thirteen feature-length films and comedy shorts for MGM, Warner Brothers, and 20th Century-Fox. They parted ways professionally in 1934, and Healy went on to have a very successful career as a solo comedian, appearing in such films as 'San Francisco' (1936), 'Mad Holiday' (1936), 'It's in the Air' (1935), and 'The Good Old Soak' (1937). By the time of his death, he was Hollywood's highest-paid supporting comedian and character actor. Just hours before his death, preview audiences had responded very favorably to his work in 'Hollywood Hotel.' Healy had remarried to Betty Hickman in 1936, and was very much looking forward to becoming a father. He had long had great affection for children, such as frequently giving Christmas parties for poor children and spending hundreds of dollars on their presents. It was therefore very ironic that he died shortly after his first child, John Jacob, was born. Healy, who had long had problems with alcohol, went out to a bar to celebrate the birth of his son, and according to witnesses, started to insult three college students, telling them he'd take care of them outside. Once outside, they jumped him before he had a chance to raise his fists, severely pummeling him all over his body. Healy's friend Joe Frisco found him lying on the sidewalk, delirious, bleeding, in a lot of pain. Healy was treated by a doctor and sent home, where he soon died. His death certificate curiously states that he simply died of natural causes. He was forty-one years old.
Bio by: Carrie-Anne