35 Facts About Joe Besser


Joe Besser was an American actor, comedian and musician, known for his impish humor and wimpy characters.


Joe Besser is remembered for his television roles: Stinky, the bratty man-child in The Abbott and Costello Show, and Jillson, the maintenance man in The Joey Bishop Show.


Joe Besser was the ninth child of Morris and Fanny [Fecht] Besser, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.


Joe Besser had seven older sisters and an older brother, Manny, who was in show business, primarily as an ethnic Jewish comic.


From an early age, Joe Besser was fascinated with show business, especially the magic act of Howard Thurston that visited St Louis annually.


When Joe Besser was 12, Thurston allowed him to be an audience plant.


Joe Besser was so excited by this that he sneaked into Thurston's train after the St Louis run of the show was over and was discovered the next day sleeping on top of the lion's cage in Detroit.

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Joe Besser was placed by St Louis juvenile authorities in a "corrective school" at age 12.


Joe Besser remained in show business and developed a comic character: an impish but whiny and bratty man who was easily excitable and upset, throwing temper tantrums with little provocation.


The comedy team of Olsen and Johnson, whose Broadway revues were fast-paced collections of songs and blackouts, hired Joe Besser to join their company.


Columbia Pictures hired Joe Besser away from the Shuberts, and Joe Besser relocated to Hollywood in 1944, where he brought his comic character to feature-length musical comedies like Hey, Rookie and Eadie Was a Lady.


On May 9,1946, Joe Besser appeared on the pioneering NBC television program Hour Glass, performing his "Army Drill" routine with stage partner Jimmy Little.


Joe Besser starred in short-subject comedies for Columbia from 1949 to 1956.


Joe Besser appeared in the action film The Desert Hawk.


Joe Besser had substituted for Lou Costello on radio, opposite Bud Abbott, and by the 1950s he was firmly established as one of the Abbott and Costello regulars.


Joe Besser appeared during the first season of The Abbott and Costello Show.


Joe Besser was cast for the role of Yonkel, a chariot man, in the low-budget biblical film Sins of Jezebel, which starred Paulette Goddard as the titular wicked queen.


At the time, Joe Besser was one of a few comedians still making comedy shorts at the studio.


Joe Besser successfully renegotiated his contract and was paid his former feature-film salary, which was more than the other Stooges earned.


Joe Besser continued to play the same whiny character he had developed over his long career.


Joe Besser had a clause in his contract that prohibited being hit excessively.


Columbia historians Edward Watz and Ted Okuda have written appreciatively of Joe Besser for bringing new energy to what was by then a flagging theatrical series.


The Stooges shorts with Joe Besser were filmed from the spring of 1956 to the end of 1957.


Joe Besser never made any personal appearances as a member of the Three Stooges.


Joe Besser's wife had suffered a heart attack in November 1957, and he was unwilling to leave without her.

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Joe Besser made occasional appearances on the ABC late-night series, called The Joey Bishop Show, between 1967 and 1969.


Joe Besser had roles on The Mothers-in-Law, Batman, The Good Guys, That Girl, and Love, American Style.


Joe Besser provided the voice of the dragon on The Alvin Show, and he played Chubby Stone in the episode "Cry Love, Cry Murder" of the private-eye series Peter Gunn.


Joe Besser provided voices for several Saturday Morning cartoon series in the 1970s.


Joe Besser voiced the character Putty Puss in The Houndcats, bumbling genie Babu in Jeannie, and Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, and as Scare Bear in Yogi's Space Race.


Joe Besser's career slowed somewhat after he suffered a minor stroke in 1979, resulting in considerable weight loss.


In 1984, Joe Besser co-wrote with authors Jeff and Greg Lenburg his autobiography, Not Just a Stooge, for Excelsior Books.


Stooges co-actor Emil Sitka, the only other Stooge attendee, spoke; the only other surviving Stooge, Joe DeRita, was ill at the time, though he outlived Besser by five years.


Joe Besser appeared in the Abbott and Costello movie Africa Screams, which featured Shemp Howard of the Three Stooges.


Joe Besser died of heart failure on March 1,1988, at the age of 80.