Monday, March 20, 2006

Manny, Moe and Somebody


Auto parts magnate Maurice "Moe" Strauss was born on this day in 1897.

On the rolls of people who have become corporate logos, Moe Strauss and his friends "Manny" and "Jack" are among the most durable. Performance artist Penny Arcade refers to them as "the Three Stooges with jobs."

Moe Strauss was one of the founders of "Pep Boys" chain of auto parts stores, for years marked with the caricatures of the Pep Boys themselves, "Manny," "Moe" and "Jack" -- or so American consumers were led to believe. In 1921, when the original Pep Boys got together to form the business with $200 each, there were four Pep Boys: Emanuel "Manny" Rosenfeld, Moe Strauss, Graham "Jack" Jackson and a second "Moe," Moe Radavitz. Moe Radavitz left the business shortly thereafter. In 1923, Strauss asked his friend Harry Moscovitz to create the famous caricatures of Manny, Moe and Jack, but a few years later Graham Jackson left the business, and Jack's caricature was replaced by a caricature of Moe Strauss' brother Izzy -- although Jack's name remained a part of the Pep Boys' trademark. After Izzy Strauss left the business, Manny's brother Murray became a partner in the business, but Izzy's face remained in the caricatures. So, ultimately, "Manny, Moe and Jack" were actually partners "Manny, Moe and Murray," with the faces of "Manny, Moe and Izzy."

Manny passed away in April 1977; Moe, the last surviving original Pep Boy, passed away in July 1982. By the end of the 1990s, perhaps in a nod to political correctness, Manny had lost his trademark cigar in an updating of the corporate logo, and by 1995, the Pep Boys had over 500 stores in 33 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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