While growing up in Texas, Ted Healy planned to become a businessman, but a series of financial failures in early adulthood led him to try the theatre as a vocation. He started out in burlesque as a blackface comedian, cadging his best jokes from such well-established performers as Al Jolson and Ed Wynn. He gradually developed into a "singing monologist" in vaudeville, surrounding himself with stooges who would continually interrupt his act and whom he would slap, poke and knock around. Among those stooges were Ted's lifelong friend Moe Howard, Moe's brother Shemp, and reformed fiddler Larry Fine. With this trio, Healy graduated to Broadway in such top-dollar reviews as A Night in Spain and A Night in Venice. In 1930, Healy was signed by Fox film studios to star in a musical comedy written by cartoonist Rube Goldberg, Soup to Nuts; while he carried the bulk of the humor, Healy's stooges were also given a few moments to shine. Healy retained his retinue throughout his first few years as an MGM contractee, starring in a group of short subjects and appearing as a supporting player in such films as Dancing Lady (1933) and Stage Mother (1934). In 1934, Moe Howard, convinced Larry Fine and new stooge Curly Howard (Moe's brother) to strike out on their own as The Three Stooges. Healy continued his film career as a solo, serving up abrasive supporting characterizations in films like Death on the Diamond (1934) and Mad Love (1935). Healy was very popular, and at one point was the highest-paid comedian in show business.