The Three Stooges
THE THREE STOOGES
SHEMP HOWARD. Nationality: American. Born: Samuel Horwitz in Brooklyn, New York, 17 March 1895. Family: Married Gertrude Frank, 1925, one son. Military Service: U.S. Army during World War I. Career: Worked as comic in vaudeville; 1922—worked with Ted Healy; 1938–49—made a number of solo films. Died: 23 November 1955.
MOE HOWARD. Nationality: American. Born: Moses Horwitz in Bensonhurst, New York, 19 June 1897. Family: Married Helen Schonberger, 1925, two children. Career: In show business from age 12: ran errands at Vitagraph studios; worked in various comic and singing acts with Ted Healy. Died: 4 May 1975.
LARRY FINE. Nationality: American. Born: Louis Feinberg in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 5 October 1902. Family: Married Mabel Haney (died 1967), two children. Died: 24 January 1975.
CURLY HORWITZ. Nationality: American. Born: Jerome Lester Horwitz in Brooklyn, New York, 22 October 1903. Family: Married 1) unknown marriage (annulled); 2) Elaine Ackerman, 1937 (divorced 1940), one daughter; 3) Marion Buxbaum, 1945 (divorced 1946); 4) Valerie Neman, 1947, one daughter. Died: 18 January 1952.
Moe, Larry, and Shemp teamed with Ted Healy in mid-1920s for early Stooges act; 1930—film debut in Soup to Nuts; 1932—Shemp replaced by Curly in the act, and Healy dropped: long series of shorts and features, for MGM, 1933, and Columbia, 1934–57; 1946—Curly retired from the act for health reasons, and was replaced by Shemp; 1955—Joe Besser joined the act after Shemp's death; 1959—Curly Joe DeRita replaced Joe Besser in the act; 1965—made a series of five-minute TV cartoons.
Films as Actors (all shorts unless noted):
(Larry, Moe, Shemp, and Ted Healy)
Soup to Nuts (Stoloff—feature)
Turn Back the Clock (Selwyn—feature); Meet the Baron (Walter Lang—feature); Dancing Lady (Leonard—feature); Beer and Pretzels (Cummings); Hello Pop (Cummings); Plane Nuts (Cummings); Myrt and Marge (Laughter in the Air) (Boasberg—feature) (as Mullins's helpers); Nertsery Rhymes (Cummings); Hollywood on Parade; Screen Snapshots (Staub)
Fugitive Lovers (Boleslawski—feature); Hollywood Party (Boleslawski, Dwan, and Rowland—feature); The Big Idea (Crowley)
(Larry, Moe, and Curly)
Woman Haters (Gottler); Punch Drunk (Breslow); Men in Black (McCarey); Three Little Pigskins (McCarey); The Captain Hates the Sea (Milestone—feature); Crazy People (Hiscott—feature)
Screen Snapshots Number Six (Staub); Horses Collars (Buckman); Restless Knights (Lamont); Pop Goes the Easel (Del Lord); Uncivil Warriors (Del Lord); Pardon My Scotch (Del Lord); Hoi Polloi (Del Lord); Three Little Beers (Del Lord)
Ants in the Pantry (Black); Movie Maniacs (Del Lord); Halfshot Shooters (Black); Disorder in the Court (Black); A Pain in the Pullman (Black); False Alarms (Del Lord); Whoops I'm an Indian (Del Lord); Slippery Silks (Black)
Grips, Grunts, and Groans (Black); Dizzy Doctors (Del Lord); Three Dumb Clucks (Del Lord); Back to the Woods (Black); Goofs and Saddles (Del Lord); Cash and Carry (Del Lord); Playing the Ponies (Lamont); The Sitter-Downers (Del Lord); Start Cheering (Rogell—feature)
Termites of 1938 (Del Lord); Wee Wee Monsieur (Del Lord); Tassels in the Air (Chase); Flat Foot Stooges (Chase); Healthy, Wealthy, and Dumb (Del Lord); Violent Is the Word for Curly (Chase); Three Missing Links (White); Mutts to You (Chase)
Screen Snapshots Number Nine (Staub); Three Little Sew and Sews (Del Lord); We Want Our Mummy (Del Lord); A-Ducking They Did Go (Del Lord); Yes, We Have No Bonanza (Del Lord); Saved by the Belle (Chase); Calling All Curs (White); Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise (White); Three Sappy People (White)
You Nazty Spy (White); Rockin' through the Rockies (White); A-Plumbing We Will Go (Del Lord); Nutty but Nice (White); How High Is Up? (Del Lord); From Nurse to Worse (White); No Census, No Feelings (White); Cockoo Cavaliers (White); Boobs in Arms (White)
So Long, Mr. Chumps (White); Dutiful but Dumb (Del Lord); All the World's a Stooge (Del Lord); I'll Never Heil Again (White); Time Out for Rhythm (Salkow—feature); An Achein Every Stake (Del Lord); In the Sweet Pie and Pie (White); Some More of Samoa (Del Lord)
Loco Boy Makes Good (White); Cactus Makes Perfect (Del Lord); What's the Matador? (White); Matri-Phony (Edwards); Three Smart Saps (White); Even as I.O.U. (Del Lord); My Sister Eileen (Hall—feature) (as workmen); Sock-a-Bye Baby (White)
The Stooge to Conga (Del Lord); Dizzy Detectives (White); Back from the Front (White); Spook Louder (Del Lord); Three Little Twerps (Edwards); Higher Than a Kite (Del Lord); I Can Hardly Wait (White); Dizzy Pilots (White); Phony Express (Del Lord); A Gem of a Jam (Del Lord)
Crash Goes the Hash (White); Busy Buddies (Del Lord); The Yoke's on Me (White); Idle Roomers (Del Lord); Gents without Cents (White); No Dough, Boys (White)
Three Pests in a Mess (Del Lord); Booby Dupes (Del Lord); Idiots Deluxe (White); Rockin' in the Rockies (Keays—feature); If a Body Meets a Body (White); Micro-Phonies (Bernds)
Beer Barrel Polecats (White); Swing Parade of 1946 (Karlson—feature); A Bird in the Head (Bernds); Uncivil Warbirds (White); Three Troubledoers (Bernds); Monkey Businessmen (Bernds); Three Loan Wolves (White); G.I. Wanna Go Home (White); Rhythm and Weep (White); Three Little Pirates (Bernds)
Half-Wit's Holiday (White)
(Larry, Moe, Curly, and Shemp)
Hold That Lion (White)
(Larry, Moe, and Shemp)
Fright Night (Bernds); Out West (Bernds); Brideless Grooms (Bernds); Sing a Song of Six Pants (White); All Gummed Up (White)
Shivering Sherlocks (Del Lord); Pardon My Clutch (Bernds); Squareheads of the Round Table (Bernds); Fiddlers Three (White); Hot Scots (Bernds); Heavenly Daze (White); I'm a Monkey's Uncle (White); Mummy's Dummies (Bernds); Crime on Their Hands (Bernds)
The Ghost Talks (White); Who Done It? (Bernds); Hocus Pocus (White); Fuelin' Around (Bernds); Malice in the Palace (White); Vagabond Loafers (Bernds); Dunked in the Deep (White)
Punchy Cowpunchers (Bernds); Hugs and Mugs (White); Dopey Dicks (Bernds); Love at First Bite (White); Self-Made Maids (McCollum); Three Hams on Rye (White); Studio Stoops (White); Slap-Happy Sleuths (McCollum); A Snitch in Time (White)
Three Arabian Nuts (Bernds); Baby Sitters' Jitters (White); Don't Throw That Knife (White); Scrambled Brains (White); Merry Mavericks (Bernds); The Tooth Will Out (Bernds); Gold Raiders (Bernds—feature); Hula La La (McCollum); The Pest Man Wins (White)
A Missed Fortune (White); Listen, Judge (Bernds); Corny Casanovas (White); He Cooked His Goose (White); Gents in a Jam (Bernds); Three Dark Horses (White); Cuckoo in a Choo Choo (White)
Up in Daisy's Penthouse (White); Booty and the Beast (White); Loose Loot (White); Tricky Dicks (White); Spooks (White); Pardon My Backfire (White); Rip, Sew, and Stitch (White); Bubble Trouble (White); Goof on the Roof (White)
Income Tax Sappy (White); Musty Musketeers (White); Pals and Gals (White); Knutzy Knights (White); Shot in the Frontier (White); Scotched in Scotland (White)
Fling in the Ring (White); Of Cash and Hash (White); Gypped in the Penthouse (White); Bedlam in Paradise (White); Stone Age Romeos (White); Wham Bam Slam (White); Hot Ice (White); Blunder Boys (White)
Husbands Beware (White); Creeps (White); Flagpole Jitters (White); For Crimin' Out Loud (White); Rumpus in the Harem (White); Hot Stuff (White); Scheming Schemers (White); Commotion on the Ocean (White)
(Larry, Moe, and Joe Besser)
Hoofs and Goofs (White); Muscle Up a Little Closer (White); A Merry Mix-Up (White); Space Ship Sappy (White); Guns A-Poppin' (White); Horsing Around (White); Rusty Romeos (White); Outer Space Jitters (White)
Quiz Whiz (White); Fifi Blows Her Top (White); Pies and Guys (White); Flying Saucer Daffy (White); Oil's Well That Ends Well (White); Triple Crossed (White); Sappy Bullfighters (White); Sweet and Hot (White)
(Larry, Moe, and Curly Joe DeRita)
Have Rocket, Will Travel (Lowell—feature)
Three Stooges Scrapbook (Maurer—feature)
Snow White and the Three Stooges (Snow White and the Three Clowns) (Walter Lang—feature)
The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (Bernds—feature); The Three Stooges in Orbit (Bernds—feature)
The Three Stooges Go around the World in a Daze (Maurer—feature); It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Kramer—feature) (as firemen); Four for Texas (Aldrich—feature)
The Outlaws IS Coming! (Three Stooges Meet the Gunslinger) (Maurer—feature)
Star Spangled Salesman (Maurer—feature)
Films of Moe Howard (features):
Space Master X-7 (Mutiny in Outer Space) (Bernds) (as cab driver)
Senior Prom (Rich)
Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (Harmon Jones) (as Mr. Raines)
Doctor Death: Seeker of Souls (Saeta) (as volunteer)
Films of Shemp Howard (features unless noted):
as Knobby Walsh in Joe Palooka shorts for Vitaphone
Convention Girl (Luther Reed) (as Dan)
Headin' East (Ewing Scott) (as Windy)
Hollywood Roundup (Ewing Scott) (as Oscar)
Another Thin Man (Van Dyke) (as Wacky)
Millionaires in Prison (Ray McCarey) (as Professor); The Leather-Pushers (Rawlins) (as sailor); Give Us Wings (Lamont) (Whitey); The Bank Dick (The Bank Detective) (Cline) (Joe Guelpe); Murder over New York (Lachman) (as Fakir)
Meet the Chump (Cline) (as Stinky Fink); Buck Privates (Rookies) (Lubin) (as Chef); The Invisible Woman (A. Edward Sutherland) (as Frankie); Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga (Rawlins) (as Gabby); Mr. Dynamite (Rawlins) (as Abdullah); In the Navy (Abbott and Costello in the Navy) (Lubin) (as Dizzy); Tight Shoes (Rogell) (as Okay); San Antonio Rose (Lamont) (as Benny the Bounce); Hold That Ghost (Oh, Charlie) (Lubin) (as soda jerk); Hit the Road (Joe May) (as Dingbat); Too Many Blondes (Freeland) (as hotel manager); Hellzapoppin' (Potter) (as Louie); The Flame of New Orleans (Clair) (as waiter); Cracked Nuts (Cline) (as Robot)
The Strange Case of Dr. Rx (Nigh) (as Sgt. Sweeney); Butch Minds the Baby (Rogell) (as Squinty Sweeney); Mississippi Gambler (Maté) (as Milton Davis); Private Buckaroo (Cline) (as Sgt. "Muggsy" Shavel); Pittsburgh (Seiler) (as Shorty); Arabian Nights (Rawlins) (as Sinbad); Who Done It? (Kenton) (as Goof)
Keep 'em Slugging (Cabanne) (as Binky); It Ain't Hay (Money for Jam) (Kenton) (as Umbrella Sam); How's About It? (Fenton) (as Alf); Strictly in the Groove (Keays) (as Pops); Crazy House (Cline) (as Mumbo)
Moonlight and Cactus (Cline) (as Punchy); Strange Affair (Alfred E. Green) (as laundry truck driver); Three of a Kind (Lederman); Crazy Knights (Ghost Crazy) (Beaudine)
Blondie Knows Best (Berlin) (as Jim Gray); Dangerous Business (Lederman); The Gentleman Misbehaves (Sherman); One Exciting Week (Beaudine) (as Marvin)
Africa Screams (Barton) (as Gunner)
By THE THREE STOOGES: books—
Howard, Moe, Moe Howard and the Three Stooges, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1977.
Besser, Joe, with Jeff and Greg Lenburg, Not Just a Stooge, Orange, California, 1984.
The Three Stooges Book of Scripts, edited by Joan Howard Maurer, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1984.
The Three Stooges Book of Scripts, Volume 2, edited by Joan Howard Maurer and Norman Maurer, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1987.
On THE THREE STOOGES: books—
Forrester, Jeffrey, The Stoogephile Trivia Book, Chicago, 1982.
Lenburg, Jeff, Joan Howard Maurer, and Greg Lenburg, The Three Stooges Scrapbook, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1982.
Feinberg, Morris ("Moe"), My Brother Larry: The Stooge in the Middle, San Francisco, 1984.
Hansen, Tom, with Jeffrey Forrester, Stoogemania, Chicago, 1984.
Maurer, Joan Howard, Curly: An Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1985.
Flanagan, Bill, Last of the Moe Haircuts, Chicago, 1986.
Scordato, Mark, The Three Stooges, New York, 1995.
Fleming, Michael, The Three Stooges: From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons, New York, 1999.
Kurson, Robert, The Official Three Stooges Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Knucklehead's Guide to Stoogedom, Lincolnwood, 1999.
On THE THREE STOOGES: articles—
Bowles, S. E., "The Three Stooges: A Brief Pathology," in Films in Review (New York), August/September 1975.
"Re-Stooges," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), July/Au-gust 1982.
Everson, William K., "Souls of Wit: The Short Films of the Three Stooges," in Video Movies (Skokie, Illinois), May 1984.
Neibaur, J., "Interview with Emil Nitka," in Films in Review (New York), June/July 1990.
Cox, D., "Stooges, Col Collide in Fight Over Rights," in Variety (New York), 30 August 1993.
Cali, Frank, "Emil Sitka: a Stooge Among Stooges," in Filmfax (Evanston), May-June 1995.
Cappello, Bill, and Ted Okuda, "Christine McIntyre," in Filmfax (Evanston), July-August 1995.
Sandler, A., "Three Stooges Heirs Win Rights to Trio," in Variety (New York), 1/7 January 1996.
Spinrad, Paul, and Danny Leigh, "How Low Can You Go?: There's Something About Mary," in Sight & Sound (London), Octo-ber 1998.
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The quality of the comedy films created by the Three Stooges will always be an arguable controversy because critics and fans of the group will never agree on what is good taste. If the talents of this comedy team are compared with other teams—Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, or even Wheeler and Woolsey and the Ritz Brothers—the ability to create a wide range of humor will balance out in favor of these other groups. Fans will, of course, not care—they like the simple, unpretentious directness of Three Stooges comedy. Over three decades the team created almost 200 shorts, appeared in or starred in some 20 features, and evidently lasted longer than any other team of comedians. In the popular cinema Moe, Larry, and Curly have made a contribution that cannot be dismissed.
The Three Stooges are actually a latter-day version of the wacky slapstick tradition developed by Mack Sennett in the 1920s—a type of unsophisticated comedy that springs from the verbal and physical altercations of circus clowns and vaudeville comedians. All of the kings of silent and sound screen comedy—Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Harry Langdon, W. C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, and the Marx Brothers—used many scenes with physical abuse (slapstick) and verbal invective. If the Three Stooges can be faulted for the use of such material, it lies mostly in the thin motivation for face slapping and eye poking. A minor disagreement in their films causes Moe to slap Curly or Larry and an exchange of blows develops that seems unnecessary or even silly. Such exchanges, however, are well divorced from reality. As fans know, these are childlike men who will soon be working as a trio to solve, in a bungling way, the problem that confronts them.
Many of the shorts created by the Three Stooges show the basic materials used by other comedians in the 1920s and 1930s. To create a basic situation that was different, the group would take up a variety of occupations: they were waiters, plumbers, salesmen, detectives, soldiers, physicians, and businessmen. And in any of these endeavors, they would botch up the job. Moe, Larry, and Curly also had a relationship that was similar to that used by other comedy teams. Moe Howard, the most durable Stooge over the years, was a leader of sorts—a low-brow version of Groucho Marx. He also believed he knew more than the others in much the same way Oliver Hardy thought he knew more than Stan Laurel, but Moe had about the same brain power as his comrades. Larry and Curly sometimes served as foils for Moe; they were not merely detractors, they were threats to his assumed leadership. In this sense they worked on a rudimentary level as Chico and Harpo did in their relationship with Groucho. While these relationships are not as clear-cut and consistent as those that existed in the major comedy teams, they indicate the Three Stooges were working on common ground in a way that would appeal to less sophisticated audiences.
While the revival of interest in the Three Stooges was prompted by the 1958 release of many of their shorts to television, it should be realized that theatrical releases of the group's shorts lasted into the late 1950s, ten years after most two-reel comedies had faded from the movie program. The immediate success of the television releases did promote one of their first features in years, the 1959 Have Rocket, Will Travel. The features that followed in the 1960s, such as The Three Stooges Meet Hercules and The Three Stooges in Orbit, were starring vehicles, whereas the features of the 1930s and 1940s were light comedies and musicals that used the group as a minor part in the total films.
The box-office success of the Three Stooges probably assisted in a revival of interest in slapstick comedy such as the high-budget features It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Great Race (1965), and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965).
Many of the works of the Marx Brothers, W. C. Fields, Mae West, Laurel and Hardy, and the silent films of Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Buster Keaton were revived in the 1960s. As humble as the humor of the Three Stooges might be, they obviously had a part in a comedy tradition that refused to die.