The Three Stooges celebrate their 84th anniversary this year. Jay Snook asks some fans why they’re still so beloved.
They had their own special brand of comedy that was part slapstick and part zany situations, yet somehow always managed to be all heart: Moe Howard, with his bowl haircut;his real life older brother, Curly; and the clown-haired Larry Fine. The Three Stooges. Other Stooges came and went over their 40 year film career, but we loved them all. We still do, as these fans attest:
“I first watched them when I was 6 years old. It was on TV every day, but my father introduced me to them. I liked their sense of humor, how they worked together as a team, and how each member was so unique. They were so over the top, and there was no filter between them. I have come across them a bit on TV, but it has been a few years since I have watched them. I think men like them because they are inappropriate, politically incorrect, and they act childish.” – Don Buswell, 62
The Stooges appeared in over 200 films like You Natzy Spy, How High is Up, and Microphonies. They began their career as a Vaudeville act with Ted Healy in the late twenties, but it’s with 1930’s Soup to Nuts that they became film stars. This lineup included another Howard brother, Shemp, who later left to pursue a solo acting career. Then came Curly, and the Stooges really took off. From 1934 to 1946 they shot their classic Columbia films, and then Curly suffered a debilitating stroke.
“I was 5 years old when I first watched them. My parents introduced me to them. I liked them because they were funny, the slapstick comedy and they were so silly you had to laugh. I do watch them periodically when a series comes on TV. I think men like them because it is a break from reality, you get a chance to look at life from a humorous way.” – Thomas Cheveres, 58
Shemp reluctantly rejoined the Stooges in 1952 hoping it would just be a temporary gig until Curly recovered, but sadly this never happened. He shot 76 films with Moe and Larry, and even had a chance to do a few TV shows with them before succumbing to a heart attack in 1955.
“I first watched them on TV when I was 7 years old. I was introduced to them from TV, and also used to watch them on Saturdays at school as a boy. I liked them because they were funny, hitting each other, they were silly and did great slapstick humor. Well I haven’t really watched them lately except with my son once in a while.” – Lee Snook, 60
After Shemp’s death, the Three Stooges had a rough few years with Joe Besser, a man who didn’t like to get slapped or hit with a pie or any of the bits the Stooges were famous for. It looked like the end was near, but they found Curly Joe De Rita and the group was reborn. They shot 6 feature films with him, 41 short comedy skits that aired as 156 cartoon episodes, shot a few pilots, and went on live tours. Their old shorts also began to air on TV, which helped their popularity grow with a new generation. They also shot a few pilots for TV shows that didn’t go anywhere.
In 1970, Larry suffered a paralyzing stroke that ended his film career. Three years later he suffered another stroke, and then slipped into a coma. He died January 1975. Although Moe was pained by his friend’s death he wanted the Three Stooges to live on, but before this could come true he died in May 1975 from lung cancer.
Today, we have many ways to watch this classic comedy group. They can watch them online, on DVD and on tablets and cell phones. Many shorts have now been colorized, which brings a new way to watch them. The Three Stooges continue to bring joy to people worldwide, and I think that is a great thing.