Joan Howard Maurer (April 2, 1927 – September 21, 2021) was an American writer and actress and the daughter of Moe Howard, the head of the Three Stooges. She authored and co-authored numerous books on the Stooges, including The Three Stooges Book of Scripts and Curly: An Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge. When interviewed about her childhood, she didn’t recall being shy, but wasn’t the type that enjoyed standing out in a crowd. Despite this hesitancy, her father would shop her around Hollywood, and she ended up appearing in films as a supporting actress next to Sybil Jason, whom she describes as “a fabulous child actress.”
Joan joked that she made the Guinness Book of World records for shortest acting career in Hollywood history. She could recall a scene in which Sybil must deliver a line “oh, she’s an old busybody” and they’re both supposed to laugh, but eight-year-old Joan could barely even muster a chuckle because it didn’t strike her as funny, and she was a little nervous. When Joan went home and complained to her father, he said, “you know what, I think you should retire,” and she breathed a sigh of relief.
When she spoke about her father, as a woman in her nineties, she could remember his generous spirit. Though Mr. Howard wasn’t exactly the “huggee-kissy” type, he was like a big Santa Claus: “All I had to do is say something and it was there like magic.” She recalled a normal childhood, growing up like everybody else and sometimes never mentioned her father’s profession to other girls because during that period the Stooges were often dismissed as “silly.” She said, “if everybody was appreciative of it” she would have mentioned it.
Joan spoke fondly of her father’s career and was full of Stooges anecdotes, recalling how her father, along with other Stooges Curly Howard and Larry Fine, would often find inspiration and ideas for the Stooges films and shorts from the daily headlines. During World War II, her father had the opportunity to spoof Hitler in his famous short “You Natzy Spy” which ended up being one of his favorite portrayals as a vaudeville comedian.