Joe Besser

Active - 1940 - 1988  |   Born - Aug 12, 1907 in St. Louis, MO  |   Died - Mar 1, 1988 in Los Angeles, CA  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Musical

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After a stint as a delivery boy, roly-poly Joe Besser worked his way up the show business ladder as a song plugger and magician's assistant. A vaudeville headliner in his mid-twenties, the bilious, balding Besser usually appeared as a member of a team. On his own, he contributed to the general merriment of Olsen and Johnson's Sons O' Fun, playing his patented stage character as a whining, overweight sissy. Besser's trademarked "I'll HAAAARM you" and "Oh, you NAAAASTY, you!" could be heard throughout the 1940s in such radio shows as The Jack Benny Program and such Columbia feature films as Hey, Rookie! A close friend of comedian Lou Costello, Besser was amusingly cast as an effete gunman in Abbott & Costello's Africa Screams (1949) and as the bratty little boy (!) Stinky in TV's The Abbott and Costello Show (1951-1952). He also starred in his own series of Columbia two-reelers, usually playing a misfit G.I., and from 1956 to 1958 he was a member of the Three Stooges. Flourishing into the 1960s and 1970s, Besser was a regular on The Joey Bishop Show (1962-1965), played supporting roles (sometimes surprisingly dramatic in nature) in films and on TV, and provided voice-overs for such cartoon series as Jeannie (1972) and Yogi's Space Race (1977). One of Joe Besser's last public appearances came about when the Three Stooges at long last received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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