shemp musings

Crocodile @ 6:43 pm

i’m working on my next outline column, reading the wikipedia page on shemp howard (born march 11, 1895). this is nice:

On November 22, 1955, Shemp went out with his friends Al Winston and Bobby Silverman to a boxing match (one of Shemp's favorite pastimes), at the old Hollywood Legion Stadium (at North El Centro Avenue & Selma Avenue), located just one block above the Hollywood Palladium. While returning home in a taxicab that evening, he died of a sudden massive heart attack, at the age of 60. He was leaning back and lighting a cigar after telling a joke, when he suddenly slumped over on his friend Al Winston's lap, accidentally burning Al with the cigar. Al thought Shemp was playing a joke, since Shemp was laughing moments earlier, but realized he was actually dead. Moe's autobiography gives a death date of November 23, 1955, as do most subsequent accounts, because of Moe's book.

that’s a true comedian’s walk-off, the ultimate take, and burning a friend with a lit cigar is an addition only a pro could pull off. i wonder what the joke was, the one that shemp walked on. i wonder if there’s a formula for assessing the probability of something being better to wonder about than to know.

also via the page “Fake Shemp”:

Fake Shemp, or simply Shemp, is someone who appears in a film as a replacement for another actor or person. Their appearance is disguised using methods such as heavy make-up (or a computer-generated equivalent), filming from the back, or using partial shots of the actor.

shemp lives on after death by being the namesake of a style of living on after one’s death. what’s the verb for his interaction with this concept? it was pioneered unto him?

crispin glover sued spielberg over his fake shemp in back to the future 2, and now there are clauses in the screen actors guild collective bargaining agreements prohibiting the use of shemps. but maybe you just have to work out a deal with the original face? peter cushing was massively shemped in the last star wars movie, i feel like we’re going to see more and more of this sort of thing, even among the living. “i’m busy, shemp me in”.

list of fake shemps



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