Joe Besser, 80, the rotund knockabout comic who played numerous crazy characters in a long film and television career, including that of "Joe" in the "Three Stooges" comedy group from 1955 to 1959, was found dead March 1 at his home in Hollywood, Calif. The cause of death was not reported.
Mr. Besser, a native of St. Louis, broke into vaudeville about the time the original "Three Stooges" started. The original characters were Morris (Moe) Horowitz, who later changed his last name to Howard; his brother, Samuel (Shemp), and Larry Fineberg, who also called himself Larry Fine.
By the early 1930s, Shemp had left in a pay dispute and Jerome (Curly) Horowitz, another Horowitz brother, took his place. Shemp rejoined the act after Curly suffered a stroke in 1946. Mr. Besser joined the group after Shemp's death in 1955. When Mr. Besser left in 1959 he was replaced by Joe De Rita, the last survivor of the act.
Before joining the group, Mr. Besser worked as a comedian on Broadway, on radio and in motion pictures. In the 1940s, his portrayal of an exasperated, whining child earned him a spot in Olsen and Johnson's long-running Broadway show, "Sons o' Fun," a sequel to their legendary "Hellzapoppin."
In the 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Besser became a regular on several television shows, including "The Ken Murray Show," "The Joey Bishop Show" (he was Jillson, the building superintendent) and "The Abbott and Costello Show," in which he portrayed a malevolent brat called "Stinky." He made 250 television appearances during his career.
Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Ernie.
Science Foundation Administrator
Joshua Menkes, 62, a retired administrator with the National Science Foundation here, died Feb. 18 at a hospital in Lisbon. He had Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Dr. Menkes lived in the Washington area from 1961 to 1969 and from 1974 to 1986, when he retired to Praia de Luz, Portugal. In retirement he had been translating Hegel's "Philosophy of Right" into English.
From 1961 to 1969, Dr. Menkes was at the Institute of Defense Analyses in Washington, working on ballistic missile defense projects. In 1974, after five years as a professor in the engineering department at the University of Colorado, he joined the National Science Foundation. His duties there included leading the technology assessment and risk analysis group.
Dr. Menkes was born in Vienna, Austria. He moved to Palestine in 1939 and fought as a member of the Jewish Palmach forces in the late 1940s. He came to the United States in 1950 and became a U.S. citizen in 1961.
He received bachelor's and master's degrees at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and a doctorate in applied mathematics at the University of Michigan. He was a research specialist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology before moving here in 1961.
His marriage to Aviva Menkes ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Diana, of Praia da Luz, and two daughters by his first marriage, Nina and Tinka Menkes, both of Los Angeles.
GOLDIE GOLDSTEIN GOULD
Jewish Council Member
Goldie Goldstein Gould, 100, a resident of the Washington area since about 1970 and a member of the National Council of Jewish Women, died of heart ailments Feb. 18 at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington.
Mrs. Gould, a resident of the Hebrew Home since the early 1970s, was born in Poland. She came to this country in 1903 and settled in Brockton, Mass. She lived in Washington from 1908 to 1914 and from 1934 to about 1942, when her first husband, Joseph Goldstein, had a shoe store here.
She later lived in Florida and California.
Her first husband died in 1942. Her second husband, Mac Fredman, died in the mid-1950s. Her third husband, Dr. Herman Gould, died about 1960.
Survivors include three children by her first marriage, Julius Goldstein of Washington, a retired colonel in the Air Force Reserve, Lillian Haas of Atlanta and Jeanette Rubenstein of Hollywood, Fla.; three sisters, Mildred Weger of Los Angeles, Dora Holstein of Brockton and Libby Goldberg of Long Island, N.Y.; five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.