- Three Stooges
Moe Howard, Curly Howardand Larry Fine.] The Three Stooges were an American vaudevilleand comedyact of the early to mid–20th century best known for their numerous short subjectfilms. They were commonly known by their first names: "Larry, Moe, and Curly", and "Moe, Larry, and Shemp", among other lineups. The act originally featured Moe Howard(born Harry (Moshe) Moses Horwitz), brother Shemp Howard(born (Shmuel) Samuel Horwitz [cite web|url=http://www.stoogeworld.com/_Biographies/Shemp.htm|title=www.stoogeworld.com/_Biographies/Shemp.htm ] ), and longtime friend Larry Fine(born Louis (Levi) Feinberg). Shemp was later replaced by brother Curly Howard(born Jerome Lester (Yehudah-Leib) Horwitz) in 1933. When Curly suffered a debilitating strokein 1946, Shemp rejoined the act. After Shemp's death in 1955, he was replaced by bald-headed comedian Joe Besser, after the use of stuntman Joe Palmato record several "Shemp" shorts after his death. Eventually Joe "Curly-Joe" DeRita (born Joseph Wardell) would replace him. After Larry suffered a serious stroke in 1970 he was unable to continue performing. Emil Sitka, a longtime actorin Stooge comedies, was contracted to replace Larry—but no film was ever made with him in the role, although publicity photographs exist of him with his hair combed similarly to Larry's posing with Moe and Curly-Joe (see below). However, Larry's paralyzing stroke in 1970 effectively marked the end of the act. He died in January 1975. Moe died of cancera few months later.
The Stooges' hallmark was extremely physical
slapstickcomedy punctuated by quickly-delivered one-liners, within outrageous storylines.
Ted Healy and His Stooges
The Three Stooges started in 1925 as part of a raucous
vaudevilleact called ' Ted Healyand His Stooges' (a.k.a. 'Ted Healy and His Southern Gentlemen', 'Ted Healy and His Three Lost Souls' and 'Ted Healy and His Racketeers'—the moniker 'Three Stooges' was never used during their tenure with Healy). In the act, lead comedian Healy would attempt to sing or tell jokes while his noisy assistants would keep "interrupting" him. Healy would respond by verbally and physically abusing his stooges. Brothers Moe and Shemp were joined later that year by violinist-comedian Larry Fine, and Fred Sanbornjoined the group as well.
Ted Healy and His Stooges, including Sanborn, appeared in their first Hollywoodfeature film: " Soup to Nuts", released by Fox Studios. The film was not a success with the critics, but the Stooges' performances were considered the highlight and Fox offered the trio a contract without Healy. This upset Healy, who told studio executives that the Stooges were his employees. The offer was withdrawn, and after Howard, Fine and Howard learned of the reason, they left Healy to form their own act, which quickly took off with a tour of the theatrecircuit. Healy attempted to stop the new act with legal action, claiming they were using his copyrighted material. There are accounts of Healy threatening to bombtheaters if Howard, Fine and Howard ever performed there, which worried Shemp so much that he almost left the act; reportedly, only a pay raise kept him on board. Healy tried to save his act by hiring replacement stooges, but they were not as well-received as their predecessors.cite book
last = Fleming
first = Michael
authorlink = Michael Fleming
title = "The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History, From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons"
publisher = Broadway Publishing
date = 1999
pages = 22, 21, 23, 25, 33, 49, 50
url = http://www.amazon.com/dp/0767905563
isbn = 0767905567] In 1932, with Moe now acting as business manager, Healy reached a new agreement with his former Stooges, and they were booked in a production of
J.J. Shubert's "The Passing Show of 1932". During rehearsals, Healy received a more lucrative offer and found a loophole in his contract allowing him to leave the production. Shemp, fed up with Healy's abrasiveness, decided to quit the act and found work almost immediately, in Vitaphonemovie comedies produced in Brooklyn, New York. With Shemp gone, Healy and the two remaining stooges (Moe and Larry) needed a replacement, so Moe suggested his younger brother Jerry Howard. Healy reportedly took one look at Jerry, who had long chestnut red locks and a handlebar mustache, and remarked that he did not look like he was funny. Jerry left the room and returned a few moments later with his head shaved (though his mustache remained for a time), and then quipped "Boy, do I look curly." Healy liked the name, and thus 'Curly' was born. (There are varying accounts as to how the Curly character actually came about.)
In 1933, Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) signed Healy and his Stooges to a movie contract. They appeared in feature films and short subjects, either together, individually, or with various combinations of actors. The trio was featured in a series of
musical comedyshorts, beginning with " Nertsery Rhymes". The short was one of a few shorts to be made with an early two-strip Technicolorprocess; the shorts themselves were built around recycled film footage of production numbers cut from MGM musicals, some of which had been filmed in Technicolor. Soon, additional shorts followed (sans the experimental Technicolor), including " Beer and Pretzels", " Plane Nuts", and " The Big Idea".
Healy and company also appeared in several MGM feature films, such as "Turn Back the Clock", "
Meet the Baron", " Dancing Lady", "Fugitive Lovers", and "Hollywood Party". Healy and the Stooges also appeared together in " Myrt and Marge" for Universal Pictures. In 1934, the team's contract with MGM expired, and the Stooges parted professional company with Healy. According to Moe Howard in his autobiography,cite book
last = Howard
first = Moe
authorlink = Moe Howard
title = "Moe Howard and the Three Stooges"
publisher = Broadway Publishing
date = 1977, rev. 1979
pages = 54, 73, 101
url = http://www.amazon.com/dp/0806507233
isbn = 978-0806507231] the Stooges split with Ted Healy in 1934 once and for all because of Healy's
alcoholismand abrasiveness. Their final film with Healy was MGM’s 1934 film, "Hollywood Party".
Both Healy and the Stooges went on to separate success. Healy died under mysterious circumstances in 1937.
The Columbia years
The same year, the trio (now christened The Three Stooges) signed on to appear in two-reel comedy
short subjectsfor Columbia Pictures. In Moe's autobiography, he said they each got $600 per week on a one-year contract with a renewable option; in the Ted Okuda–Edward Watz book "The Columbia Comedy Shorts", the Stooges are said to have gotten $1,000 between them for their first Columbia effort, " Woman Haters", and then signed a term contract for $7,500 per film, to be divided among the trio. According to Moe, Columbia Picturesstudio head Harry Cohnwould always wait until the last minute to renew the contract. The Stooges, too worried about keeping their jobs in an increasingly declining short-subject market, would not dare ask for a raise during the 23 years they worked for Cohn. The Stooges appeared in 190 film shorts and five features under the "original" contract with Columbia. Del Lorddirected more than three dozen "Three Stooges" shorts. Jules Whitedirected dozens more, and his brother Jack White directed several under the pseudonym"Preston Black". (In the early shorts, Curly was billed as "Curley", and also as "Jerry Howard" when receiving a writing credit).
Wee Wee Monsieur".]
According to a published report, [cite web|url=http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/01.16.97/cover/stooges3-9703.html|title=Newspaper article about the antifascist short "You Nazty Spy"] Moe, Larry, and director Jules White considered their best film to be "
You Nazty Spy!". This 18-minute short subject starring Moe as an Adolf Hitler–like character satirized the Nazis in a period when America was still neutral and isolationist about WWII. "You Nazty Spy" was the first Hollywood film to spoof Hitler, and was released nine months before Charlie Chaplin's " The Great Dictator". Reportedly this film caused the Stooges to be placed on Hitler's so-called "death list" because of its anti-Nazi stance. Chaplin, along with Jack Bennywould also be on this list due to their later anti-Nazi films.
The Stooges made occasional guest appearances in feature films, though generally they stuck to short subjects. Columbia offered theater owners an entire program of two-reel comedies (15 to 25 titles annually) featuring such stars as
Buster Keaton, Andy Clyde, Charley Chase, and Hugh Herbert, but the Three Stooges shorts were the most popular of all.
Curly was easily the most popular member of the team. His childlike mannerisms and natural comedic charm made him a hit with audiences. The fact that Curly had to shave his head for the act led him to feel unappealing to women. To mask his insecurities, Curly excessively drank, ate, and caroused whenever the Stooges made personal appearances, which was approximately seven months out of the year. His weight ballooned in the 1940s, and his blood pressure was dangerously high.cite book
last = Maurer
first = Joan Howard
authorlink = Joan Howard Maurer
coauthors = Jeff Lenburg, Greg Lenburg
title = "The Three Stooges Scrapbook"
publisher = Citadel Press
date = 1982
pages = 73, 87
url = http://www.amazon.com/Three-Stooges-Scrapbook-Joan-Howard-Maurer/dp/0806509465/ref=pd_sim_b_title_1
isbn = 0806509465] His wild lifestyle and constant drinking eventually caught up with him in 1945, and his performances suffered. Anyone viewing Curly's last dozen shorts will see a seriously ill Curly, struggling to get through even the most basic scenes.
During the filming of "
Half-Wits Holiday" on May 6, 1946, Curly suffered a debilitating stroke, and the film was finished without him. (He is absent from the last several minutes of the film.) Curly's health necessitated a temporary retirement from the act, and while the Stooges hoped for a full recovery, Curly never starred in a film again. He did make one brief cameo appearance in the third film after Shemp returned to the trio, " Hold That Lion!". It was the only film that contained all "four" of the original Stooges (the three Howard brothers and Larry) on screen simultaneously; Jules White recalled Curly visiting the set one day, and White had him do this bit for fun. (Curly's cameo appearance was recycled in the 1953 remake " Booty and the Beast"). In 1949, Curly was supposed to play a cameo role in the Stooge comedy " Malice in the Palace", but his chef role was played by Larry.
Moe Howard turned to his older brother Shemp Howard to take Curly's place. Shemp, however, was hesitant to rejoin the Stooges, as he had a successful solo career at the time of Curly's untimely illness. However, he realized that Moe's and Larry's careers would be finished without the Stooge act. Shemp wanted some kind of assurance that his rejoining was indeed temporary, and that he could leave the Stooges once Curly recovered. Unfortunately, Curly's condition declined until his death on January 18, 1952. Shemp appeared with the Stooges in 73 more shorts and a quickie Western comedy feature titled "
Gold Raiders". During this period, Moe, Larry and Shemp made a pilot for a "Three Stooges" television showcalled "Jerks of All Trades" in 1949. The series was never picked up, although the pilot is currently in the public domainand is available on home video, as is an early television appearance from around the same time on a vaudeville-style comedy series, "Camel Comedy Caravan", originally broadcast live on CBS-TVon March 11, 1950 and starring Ed Wynn. Also available commercially is a kinescope of Moe, Larry and Shemp's appearance on "The Frank Sinatra Show", broadcast live over CBS-TV on January 1, 1952. Sinatra was reportedly a big fan of the Stooges and slapstick comedy in general. On this broadcast, the Stooges are joined by one of their longtime stock-company members Vernon Dent, who plays "Mr. Mortimer", a party-goer who requests a drink. The Stooges oblige with disastrous results.
The quality of the Stooge shorts declined after Columbia's short-subject division downsized in 1952. Producer
Hugh McCollumwas discharged and director Edward Berndsresigned out of loyalty to McCollum, leaving only Jules White to both produce and direct the Stooges' remaining Columbia comedies. Production was significantly faster, with the former four-day filming schedules now tightened to two or three days. In another cost-cutting measure, White would create a "new" Stooge short by borrowing footage from old ones, setting it in a slightly different storyline, and filming a few new scenes often with the same actors in the same costumes. White was initially very subtle when recycling older footage: he would reuse only a single sequence of old film, re-edited so cleverly that it was not easy to detect. The later shorts were cheaper and the recycling more obvious, with as much as 75% of the running time consisting of old footage. White came to rely so much on older material that he could film the "new" shorts in a single day.
Death paid the Stooges another visit just three years after Curly's demise, when Shemp Howard died of a sudden heart attack at age 60 on November 22, 1955. Archived footage of Shemp, combined with new footage of his stand-in,
Joe Palma(filmed from behind or with his face hidden), were used to complete the last four films of Shemp's contract: " Rumpus in the Harem", "Hot Stuff", " Scheming Schemers" and " Commotion on the Ocean".
Joe Besser replaces Shemp
Joe Besserreplaced Shemp in 1956, appearing in 16 shorts. Besser, noting how one side of Larry Fine's face seemed "calloused", [archival audio - "E Entertainment", May 2002] had a clause in his contract specifically prohibiting him from being hit too hard (though this restriction was later lifted). Ironically, Besser was the only "third" Stooge that dared to hit Moe back in retaliation and get away with it; Larry Fine was also known to hit Moe on occasion, but always with serious repercussions. "I usually played the kind of character who would hit others back," Besser recalled.cite book
last = Forrester
first = Jeff
authorlink = Jeff Forrester
title = "The Three Stooges: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Most Popular Comedy Team of All Time"
publisher = Donaldson Books
date = 2004
location = http://www.amazon.com/dp/0971580103
pages = 121, 135
isbn = 0971580103]
Guns A Poppin".]
With Besser on board, the Stooge films began to resemble sitcoms. Sitcoms, though, were now available for free.
Televisionwas the new popular medium, and by the time Besser joined the act, the Stooges were generally considered throwbacks to an obsolete era. In addition, Moe and Larry were growing older, and could not perform pratfalls and physical comedy as they once had.
The inevitable occurred soon enough. Columbia was the last studio still producing shorts, and the market for such films had all but dried up. As a result, the studio opted not to renew the Stooges' contract when it expired in late December 1957. The final comedy produced was "
Flying Saucer Daffy", filmed on December 19–20, 1957. [Solomon, Jon. (2002) "The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion", p. 510; Comedy III Productions, Inc., ISBN 0971186804] Several days later, the Stooges were unceremoniously fired from Columbia Pictures after 24 years of making low-budget shorts. Joan Howard Maurer, daughter of Moe, wrote the following in 1982: cquote|The boys' careers had suddenly come to an end. They were at Columbia one day and gone the next—no 'Thank yous,' no farewell party for their 24 years of dedication and service and the dollars their comedies had reaped for the studio.
Moe Howard recalled that a few weeks after their exit from Columbia, he drove to the studio to say goodbye to several studio executives when he was stopped by a guard at the gate (obviously, not a Stooges fan) and, since he did not have the current year's studio pass, was refused entry. For the moment, it was a crushing blow.
Although the Stooges were no longer working for Columbia, the studio had enough completed films on the shelf to keep releasing new comedies for another 18 months, and not in the order they were produced. The final Stooge release, "
Sappy Bull Fighters", did not reach theaters until June 4, 1959.
In 1958, Columbia syndicated the entire Stooges film library to television (through its TV subsidiary,
Screen Gems), and the Stooges were rediscovered by the baby boomers. A "Stooge fandom" quickly developed, and Howard and Fine found themselves back in demand with the public. Moe and Larry discussed plans for a personal appearance tour; meanwhile, Besser's wife had a heart attack, and he preferred to stay local, leading him to withdraw from the act. Moe quickly signed movie and burlesque comic Joe DeRita as his replacement; DeRita shaved his head and became "Curly-Joe" because of his resemblance to the original Curly Howard. ("Curly-Joe" was easy to distinguish from Joe Besser, the previous Stooge called "Joe"). This Three Stooges lineup went on to make a series of popular full-length films from 1959 to 1965. The films were aimed at the kiddie-matinee market, and most were slapstick outings in the Stooge tradition, with the exception of " Snow White and the Three Stooges", a children's fantasy in Technicolor. They also appeared as firemen (the role that helped make them famous in "Soup to Nuts") in the film " It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". Throughout the 1960s, The Three Stooges were one of the most popular and highest-paid live acts in America.
Snow White and the Three Stooges."]
The trio also filmed 41 short comedy skits for "
The New Three Stooges", 156 animated cartoons produced for television. The Stooges appeared in live-action color footage, which preceded and followed each animated adventure in which they voiced their respective characters.
In 1969, the Three Stooges filmed a pilot episode for a new
TV seriestitled " Kook's Tour", a combination travelogue- sitcomthat had the "retired" Stooges traveling around the world, with the episodes filmed on location. On January 9, 1970, during production of the pilot, Larry suffered a paralyzing stroke, ending his acting career, as well as plans for the television series. A 50-minute version of "Kook's Tour" was edited together from usable material and initially only made available for the home movie market (years before the popularity of home video); it has subsequently been released to DVD, in an unrestored version.
Larry Fine suffered another
strokein December 1974. The following month, he suffered a more serious one, and slipped into a coma. He died on January 24, 1975, at the age of 72. Devastated by his friend's passing, Moe nevertheless decided that the Three Stooges would continue, and longtime Stooge supporting actor Emil Sitkawould replace Larry, and be dubbed "The Middle Stooge". Sitka later said he accepted the offer after receiving Larry's blessings.
Several movie ideas were considered, including one called "
Blazing Stewardesses" according to Leonard Maltin, who also uncovered a pre-production photo (the film was ultimately made with the last surviving Ritz Brothers). However, lifelong smoker Moe fell ill from lung cancer, and died on May 4, 1975.
With Moe gone, it was inconceivable that the Three Stooges would continue without a Howard. However, Curly-Joe did perform live with Mousie Garner and Frank Mitchell as "The New 3 Stooges" in the mid-1970s.
Joe Besser died on March 1, 1988, followed by Curly-Joe on July 3, 1993. Emil Sitka died on January 16, 1998, making him the last "Stooge" to die (though Sitka never performed on film as a member of the trio, but did appear in a few publicity shots).
Moe Howardand Ted Healy1922–1923
#Moe Howard, Ted Healy, and
#Moe Howard, Ted Healy, Larry Fine, and Shemp Howard 1923–1932
#Moe Howard, Ted Healy, Larry Fine, and
#Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard 1934–1947
#Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Shemp Howard 1947–1956
#Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and
#Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and
Curly Joe DeRita1958–1975
Emil Sitka, and Curly Joe DeRita 1975
Real Name: Harry Moses Horwitz
Born: birth date|1897|6|19|mf=y
Died: death date and age|1975|5|4|1897|6|19
Stooge years: 1922, 1926, 1929–1975
Real Name: Louis Feinberg
Born: birth date|1902|10|5|mf=y
Died: death date and age|1975|1|24|1902|10|5
Stooge years: 1925–1926, 1929–1975
Real Name: Jerome Lester Horwitz
Born: birth date|1903|10|22|mf=y
Died: death date and age|1952|1|18|1903|10|22
Stooge years: 1932–1946
Real Name: Schmool Samuel Horwitz
Born: birth date|1895|3|4|mf=y
Died: death date and age|1955|11|22|1895|3|17
Stooge years: 1922–1925, 1929–1932, 1947–1955
Real Name: Clarence Ernst Lee Nash
Born: birth date|1896|10|1|mf=y
Died: death date and age|1937|12|21|1896|10|1
Stooge Years: 1922–1925, 1929–1934
Born: birth date|1905|3|17|mf=y
Died: death date and age|1994|8|15|1905|3|17
Stooge Year: 1956 (body double for Shemp)
Born: birth date|1907|8|12|mf=y
Died: death date and age|1988|3|1|1907|8|12
Stooge years: 1956–1957
Real Name: Joseph Wardell
Born: birth date|1909|7|12|mf=y
Died: death date and age|1993|7|3|1909|7|12
Stooge years: 1958–1975
Emil Josef Sitka [ [http://www.emilsitka.com/biography.htm Emil Sitka Tribute | Biography ] ]
Born: birth date|1914|12|22|mf=y
Died: death date and age|1998|1|16|1914|12|22
Stooge year: 1975
* Sitka was officially named a member of the Stooges following Larry Fine's stroke, but never got to perform with the group.
Comedy III Productions, Inc.
Throughout their career, Moe acted as both their main creative force and business manager. Comedy III Productions, Inc., formed by Moe, Larry and Curly-Joe DeRita in 1959, is presently the owner of all Three Stooges
trademarks and merchandising. After a court battle with the grandsons of Moe Howard, the company is currently operated by DeRita's stepsons, Earl and Robert Benjamin, attorney Bela G. Lugosiand Larry Fine's grandson, majority owner Eric Lamond. [cite web|url=http://www.c3entertainment.com/|title=C3 website] Comedy III has also, since 1995, authorized and provided the services of veteran actors Jim Skousen, Alan Semok, and Dave Knight (as Moe, Larry, and Curly respectively) for numerous "personal appearances" by the Stooge characters for a variety of merchandising and promotional events. This latter day trio has also provided voices for the characters in a variety of radio spots, merchandising tie-ins, and most recently for the first new Three Stooges short in fifty years... a CGI animation by Famous Frames Mobile Interactive, a first-wave "new media" company. Entitled "The Grate Debate", the short has Moe, Larry and Curly running for President.
2000 TV movie
In spring of 2000, longtime Stooge fan
Mel Gibsonexecutive produced a TV movie ("The Three Stooges") about the lives and careers of the comedians. Playing Moe was Paul Ben-Victor; Evan Handlerwas Larry; John Kassirwas Shemp; and Michael Chikliswas Curly. It filmed in Sydney, Australiaand was produced for and broadcast on ABC. It was based on Michael Fleming's authorized biography of the Stooges, "The Three Stooges: From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons". Its unflattering portrayal of Ted Healy led Healy's son to give media interviews calling the film inaccurate. The film regularly runs on the American Movie Classics (AMC) channel.
A handful of Three Stooges shorts first aired on television in 1949, on the
American Broadcasting Company(ABC) network. It was not until 1958 that Screen Gems packaged 78 shorts for national syndication; the package was gradually enlarged to encompass the entire library of 190 shorts. In 1959, KTTVin Los Angeles purchased the Three Stooges films for air, but by the early 1970s, rival station KTLAbegan airing the Stooges films, keeping them in the schedule until early 1994. The Family Channel (now ABC Family) ran the shorts as part of their "Stooge TV" block from February 19, 1996 to January 2, 1998. In the late 1990s, AMC had held the rights to the Three Stooges shorts, airing them with host Leslie Nielsen, in the format of a college instructor for NYUK (New Yuk University of Knuckleheads), with several shorts often grouped by a theme, such as similar schticks used in different films. The AMC run ended when Spike TV picked them up in 2004, airing them in their "Stooges Happy-Slapping Hour". By 2007, the network had discontinued airing the shorts. Spike TV had begun airing Stooges shorts again, this time every Sunday morning at 9:00. As of late April 2008, Three Stooges has disappeared from the network's schedule entirely.
Since the 1990s Columbia has preferred to license the Stooge shorts to cable networks, precluding the films from being shown on local broadcast TV. Stations in Chicago and Boston, however, signed long-term syndication contracts with Columbia years ago and declined to terminate them. Thus,
WCIU-TVin Chicagocurrently airs all 190 Three Stooges shorts on "Stooge-a-Palooza", hosted by Rich Koz, and WSBK-TVin Boston airs Stooge shorts and feature films.
Some of the Stooge films have been colorized by two separate companies. The first colorized DVD releases, distributed by
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, were prepared by West Wing Studiosin 2004. The following year, Legend Filmscolorized the public domainshorts " Malice in the Palace", " Sing a Song of Six Pants", " Disorder in the Court" and " Brideless Groom". "Disorder in the Court" and "Brideless Groom" also appear on two of West Wing's colorized releases.
Chronological DVD release and public reception
On October 30, 2007,
Sony Pictures Home Entertainmentreleased "" on DVD. The two-disc set contains shorts from the first three years the Stooges worked at Columbia Pictures. This is the first time ever that all 19 shorts have been released in their original theatrical order to DVD. Every short was remastered in high definition, a first for the Stooge films. [cite web|url=http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000SSQ7JW/|title=Amazon.com description] Previous DVD releases were based on themes (wartime, history, work, etc.), and sold poorly. Fans and critics alike praised Sony for finally giving the Stooges the proper DVD treatment. One critic states "the Three Stooges on DVD has been a real mix'n match hodge-podge of un-restored titles and illogical entries. This new...boxset...seems to be the first concerted effort to categorize their huge body of work chronologically with many shorts seeing the digital light for the first time." [cite web|url=http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews33/3_stooges_collection_vol._1.htm/|title=dvdbeaver.com review] Videolibrarian.com critic added "finally, the studio knuckleheads got it right! The way that the Three Stooges have been presented on home video has been a real slap in the face and poke in the eye to fans. They’ve been anthologized, colorized, and public domain-ed, as their shorts have been released and re-released in varying degrees of quality. Highly recommended." [http://www.videolibrarian.com/dvd.html/ Videolibrarian.com review] ] Critic James Plath of DVDtown.com added, "Thank you, Sony, for finally giving these Columbia Pictures icons the kind of DVD retrospective that they deserve. Remastered in High Definition and presented in chronological order, these short films now give fans the chance to appreciate the development of one of the most successful comedy teams in history." [cite web|url=http://www.dvdtown.com/reviews/three-stooges-collection-the-volume-one-1934-1936/5300/|title=DVDtown.com review]
The chronological series has proven very successful. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment wasted little time preparing the next set for release. ' was released on May 27, 2008, [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00151QYYE Amazon.com, The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 2] ] and ' was released on August 26, 2008 [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001AXOFR0 Amazon.com, The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 3] ] . "" was released on October 7, 2008 [ [http://digitallyobsessed.com/showrelease.php3?ID=10519 The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 4] Press Release] .
* Several instrumental tunes were played over the opening credits at different times in the production of the short features. The most commonly used themes were:
**The verse portion of "
Listen to the Mockingbird", played in a comical way, complete with sounds of cuckoo birds and such. This was first used in " Pardon My Scotch", their ninth short film. Prior to that film, the opening theme varied and was usually connected with the storyline in some way. Ironically, the actual song "Listen to the Mockingbird" is mournful.
Three Blind Mice", beginning as a slow but straightforward presentation, often breaking into a "jazzy" style before ending. Another version was played fast all the way through.
*The Columbia short subject "
Woman Haters" was done completely in rhyme, recited (not sung) in rhythm with a Jazz-Age underscore running throughout the film. It was sixth in a “"Musical Novelties"” short subject series, and appropriated its musical score from the first five films. The memorable “My Life, My Love, My All,” was originally “At Last!” from the film “"Um-Pa".”
Swinging the Alphabet" (a.k.a. B-A-bay, B-E-be, B-I-bicky-bi…) from " Violent Is the Word for Curly" is perhaps the best-known song performed by the Stooges on film.
*The “Lucia Sextet” ("Chi mi frena in tal memento?"), from the opera "
Lucia di Lammermoor" by Gaetano Donizetti(announced by Moe as “the sextet from Lucy”), is played on a record player and lip-synched by the Stooges in " Micro-Phonies". The same melody re-appears in " Squareheads of the Round Table" as the tune of “Oh, Elaine, can you come out tonight?”. "Micro-Phonies" also includes the Johann Strauss Jr.waltz “Voices of Spring” (" Frühlingsstimmen") Op. 410. Another Strauss waltz, " The Blue Danube," is featured in " Ants in the Pantry" and " Punch Drunks".
*The Moe–Larry–Curly Joe lineup of the Stooges recorded several musical record albums in the early 1960s. Most of their songs were adaptations of
nursery rhymes. Among their more popular recordings were "Making a Record" (a surreal trip to a recording studio built around the song "Go Tell Aunt Mary"), " Three Little Fishes," " All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," " Wreck the Halls with Boughs of Holly (1959),"and " I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."
*In 1983, a group called the
Jump 'N the Saddle Bandrecorded a track called " The Curly Shuffle", which featured the narrator singing about his love of the Stooges mixed with a chorus of many of Curly's catchphrases and sound effects.
Feature motion pictures
The Three Stooges also made appearances in many feature length movies in the course of their careers:
Soup to Nuts" (1930)
*"Turn Back the Clock" (1933)
Meet the Baron" (1933)
Dancing Lady" (1933)
Myrt and Marge" (1933)
Fugitive Lovers" (1934)
*"Hollywood Party" (1934)
The Captain Hates the Sea" (1934)
Start Cheering" (1938)
Time Out for Rhythm" (1941)
My Sister Eileen" (1942) (Cameo)
Good Luck, Mr. Yates" (1943) (scenes deleted)
Rockin' in the Rockies" (1945)
Swing Parade of 1946" (1946)
Gold Raiders" (1951)
Columbia Laff Hour" (1956)
Have Rocket, Will Travel" (1959)
Stop! Look! and Laugh!" (1960)
Snow White and the Three Stooges" (1961)
The Three Stooges Meet Hercules" (1962)
The Three Stooges in Orbit" (1962)
The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze" (1963)
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963) (Cameo)
4 for Texas" (1963) (Cameo)
The Outlaws Is Coming" (1965)
Kook's Tour" (1970)
In addition to the unsuccessful (see "History" section, above) television series pilot, "
Jerks of All Trades" and the incomplete " Kook's Tour", the Stooges appeared in a show called " The New Three Stooges" which ran from 1965 to 1966. This series featured a mix of thirty-nine live actionsegments which were used as wraparounds to 156 animated Stooges shorts.
That cartoon program became the only regularly scheduled television show in history for the Stooges. Unlike other films shorts that aired on TV like the "
Looney Tunes", " Tom and Jerry", and " Popeye", the film shorts of the Stooges never had a regularly scheduled national television program to air in, neither on network nor syndicated. When Columbia/Screen Gems licensed the film library to television, the shorts aired in any fashion the local stations chose (examples: late-night "filler" material between the end of the late movie and the channel's sign-off time; in "marathon" sessions running shorts back-to-back for one, one-and-a-half, or two hours; etc.).
Two episodes of
Hanna-Barbera's " The New Scooby-Doo Movies" aired on CBSfeaturing animated Stooges as guest stars: the premiere, "Ghastly Ghost Town" ( September 9, 1972) and "The Ghost of the Red Baron" (November 18, 1972). There also was a short-lived animated series, also produced by Hanna-Barbera, titled " The Robonic Stooges", originally seen as a featured segment on " Skatebirds" ( CBS, 1977–1978), featuring Moe, Larry, and Curly (voiced by Paul Winchell, Joe Bakerand Frank Welker, respectively) as bionic cartoon superheroes with extendable limbs, similar to the later " Inspector Gadget". "The Robonic Stooges" later aired as a separate half-hour series, retitled "The Three Robonic Stooges" (each half-hour featured two segments of "The Three Robonic Stooges" and one segment of "Woofer And Whimper, Dog Detectives", the latter re-edited from episodes of "Clue Club", an earlier Hanna-Barbera cartoon series).
Over the years, several Three Stooges comics were produced.
St. John Publicationspublished the first Three Stooges comics in 1949 with 2 issues, then again in 1953-54 with 7 issues.
Dell Comicspublished a Three Stooges series first as one-shots in their " Four Color Comics" line for 5 issues, then gave them a numbered series for four more issues (#6-9). With #10, the title would be published by Gold Key Comics. Under Gold Key, the series lasted thru issue #55 in 1972.
Gold Key Comicsthen published the "Little Stooges" series (7 issues, 1972-74) with story and art by Norman Maurer, Moe's son-in-law. This series featured the adventures of three fictional sons of the Three Stooges, as sort of modern-day teen-age versions of the characters.
Malibu Comicsdid a couple of one-shot comics, reprinting stories from the Gold Key Comics in 1989 and 1991.
Although it is possible to buy a tremendous amount of Three Stooges merchandise billing them as lawyers for the firm of
Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe, the Stooges never made a film in which they play lawyers by that name.
At least two websites for law firms by that name can be found on the net. One is http://www.rst2.edu/ties/asbestos/legal2/index.htm which has a 555 phone number indicating it to be fictitious. Another is at http://www.calcon.net/demos/legal.htm claiming to be in New Jersey and headed by Clarence D. Dewey, Al Waise Cheatum, and En Riqui Howe and be in Ramford County. However, Ramford County is a fictional town whose website is a project of students at Ramapo College, Mahwah, New Jersey.
mobisodefeaturing CGI stooges has been announced, and a short trailer released. The theme involves the Stooges running for President. [cite web|url=http://www.threestooges.com/gratedebate/|title=threestooges.com/gratedebate]
In 1987, game developers
Cinemawarereleased a successful Three Stooges computer game, available for Apple IIGS, Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS, and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Based around the Stooges earning money by doing odd jobs to prevent the foreclosure of an orphanage, it incorporated audio from the original films and was popular enough to be reissued for the Game Boy Advancein 2002. [ [http://au.gameboy.ign.com/articles/357/357085p1.html IGN: The Three Stooges Review ] ]
Gary Lassin opened the [http://www.stoogeum.com/ Stoogeum] in 2004 in a renovated architect's office in
Spring House, Pennsylvania, 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Philadelphia. The museum-quality exhibitsfill three stories (10,000 square feet or 929 square meters), including an 85-seat theater. [cite web|url=http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/travel/features/nationworld/4868286.html|title=Get your nyuks, nyuks at the Stoogeum] Peter Seely, editor of the book"Stoogeology: Essays on the Three Stooges" said that the Stoogeum has "more stuff than I even imagined existed"." 2,500 people visit it yearly, many during the annual gathering of the Three Stooges Fan Club. [cite web|url=http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20070907/ap_tr_ge/travel_brief_three_stooges_museum;_ylt=Ar.kdy3uCdTqwQffAbzPnzas0NUE|title= Yahoo.com, Three Stooges Museum in Pa.]
Robert Swerdlow of
Dix Hills, New Yorkhas a large collection of Three Stooges memorabilia. Puppets, dolls, coloring books, paper dolls and toys are displayed in his Long Island home.
A film about the Three Stooges, simply titled "The Three Stooges", is scheduled to be released in 2009. The
Farrelly Brothersare still attached to the project, [cite news|author=WorstPreviews.com|url=http://www.worstpreviews.com/headline.php?id=5998|title=Peter Farrelly Gives "The Three Stooges" Update|publisher=WorstPreviews.com|accessdate=2007-09-30] even though their Warner Bros.deal to write and direct the film has expired. First Look Studios, working with C3 Entertainment, will distribute the motion picture. [cite news|author=Jen Yamato|url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1090186-three_stooges/news/1647657/|title=As The Farrelly Brothers Pass, "Three Stooges" Movie Rights Go Elsewhere|publisher= RottenTomatoes|accessdate=2006-10-13] The Farrellys have said that they were not going to do a biopic or remake, but instead new Three Stooges episodes set in the present day. The plot of the episodes are said to be an adventure that revolves around the Stooges characters. [cite news|author=Arya Ponto|url=http://www.justpressplay.net/movies/the-three-stooges/news/three-stooges-movie-not-a-biopic-but-new-episodes.html|title=Three Stooges Movie Not a Biopic, But New Episodes|publisher=JustPressPlay.net|accessdate=2007-10-01]
*"Stroke of Luck", by Larry Fine and James Carone [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JWEAPA] (Siena Publishing Co., 1973). (Larry Fine's autobiography, transcribed from interviews toward the end of his life)
*"Moe Howard and the Three Stooges"; by
Moe Howard[http://www.amazon.com/dp/0806507233] , (Citadel Press, 1977). (Moe Howard's autobiography, completed and released posthumously by his daughter)
*"The Stooges Chronicles", by Jeffrey Forrester [http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JD2BUK] , (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1981); reissued as "The Three Stooges: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Most Popular Comedy Team of All Time", by Jeff Forrester, Tom Forrester, Joe Wallison. [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0971580103] , (Donaldson Books, 2004). (Comprehensive overview of the team's career, with interview quotes; also discusses the various Ted Healy stooges)
*"The Three Stooges Scrapbook"; by Jeff Lenburg, Joan Howard Maurer, Greg Lenburg [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0806509465] (Citadel Press, 1982, rev. 1994, 2000)
*"The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion"; by Jon Solomon [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0971186804] , (Comedy III Productions, Inc., 2002).
*"The Three Stooges Book of Scripts"; by Joan Howard Maurer [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0806510188] (Citadel Press, 1984)
*"The Three Stooges Book of Scripts, Volume II"; by Joan Howard Maurer and
Norman Maurer[http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000YHGV48] (Citadel Press, 1987)
*"Curly: An Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge"; by Joan Howard Maurer [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0806510862] (Citadel Press, 1985, rev. 1988)
*"One Fine Stooge: Larry Fine's Frizzy Life in Pictures" [http://www.amazon.com/dp/1581823630] , (Cumberland House Publishing, 2005, hardback coffee-table format) by Steve Cox and Jim Terry
*"Stoogemania: An Extravaganza of Stooge Photos, Puzzles, Trivia, Collectibles and More", by
Tom Hansenwith Jeffrey Forrester [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0809253828] (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1984). (Overview of Three Stooges memorabilia)
*"Stoogeology: Essays on the Three Stooges", by Peter Seely and Gail W. Pieper [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0786429208] McFarland & Company, 2007)
*"The Official Three Stooges Cookbook", by Robert Kurson [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0809229293] (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1998).
*"The Official Three Stooges Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Knucklehead's Guide to Stoogedom - from Amalgamated Association of Morons to Ziller, Zeller, and Zoller", ; by Robert Kurson [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0809225808] , (McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1999).
*"Behind the Three Stooges: The White Brothers: Conversations With David N. Bruskin", by David N. Bruskin [http://www.amazon.com/dp/1882766008] (Directors Guild of America, 1993). (In-depth interviews with producer-directors
Jules White. Jack White, and Sam White),
*"Pop, Your "Poifect!": A Three Stooges Salute to Dad", by Comedy III Productions, Inc. [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0740726889] (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2002).
*"Mousie Garner: Autobiography of a Vaudeville Stooge", by Paul Garner. [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0786405813] (McFarland & Company, 1999).
*"Larry, the Stooge in the Middle"; by Morris Feinberg [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0867193085] , (Last Gasp of San Francisco, 1984). (Biography of Larry Fine, attributed to his brother but actually ghostwritten by Bob Davis)
*"The Stoogephile Trivia Book", by Jeffrey Forrester [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0809256134] (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1982).
*"Not Just a Stooge"; by Joe Besser with Jeff Lenburg and Greg Lenburg [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0918283000] , (Excelsior Books, Inc., 1984); reissued as "Once a Stooge, Always a Stooge"; by Joe Besser with Jeff Lenburg and Greg Lenburg [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0915677342] , (Roundtable Publications, 1987). (Autobiography of Joe Besser, including anecdotes about
Abbott and Costelloand Olsen and Johnson)
*"The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History, From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons"; by Michael Fleming [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0767905563] (Broadway Publishing, 2002).
*"Last of the Moe Haircuts", by Bill Flanagan [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0809251523] (McGraw-Hill/Contemporary, 1986).
*"The Stooges' Lost Episodes", by Tom Forrester with Jeffrey Forrester [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0809246554] , (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1988). (Discussion of obscure Stooges appearances, including solo films by individual Stooges)
*"The Columbia Comedy Shorts" by
Ted Okudawith Edward Watz, [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0786405775/] (McFarland & Company, 1998). (Comprehensive history of the Columbia short-subject department; Stooge colleagues Edward Berndsand Emil Sitkaare quoted extensively)
*"The Stooge Fans' I.Q. Test " by Ronald L. Smith, [http://www.amazon.com/dp/1561712175] . (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1988).
*"The Conservative In Spite of Himself: A Reluctant Right-Winger's Thoughts on Life, Law and the Three Stooges", by Maximilian Longley [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0977802426] (Monograph Publishers, 2007).
*"Stoogism Anthology", by Paul F. Fericano [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0916296016] (Poor Souls Printing, 1977).
*"The Three Stooges Golf Spoof and Trivia Book", by Bill Kociemba, Eric A. Kaufman, and Steve Sack. [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0966787609] (Gazelle, Inc., 1999).
Three Stooges in popular culture
* [http://www.threestooges.com/ The Three Stooges Official Website]
* [http://www.threestooges.net/ The Three Stooges Online Filmography]
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