Stooges Wiki

"Official" Three Stooges logo since April 22. 1994. L to R: Moe Howard, Curly Howard and Larry Fine.

The Three Stooges were an iconic American vaudeville and comedy act of the early to mid–20th century best known for their numerous short subject films. They were commonly known by their first names: "Moe, Larry, 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,[1] 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 stroke in 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 Palma to 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 actor in 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 cancer a few months later.

The Stooges' hallmark was physical slapstick comedy 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 vaudeville act called 'Ted Healy and 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 Sanborn joined the group as well.


The original Three Stooges in their film debut, Soup to Nuts. Many fans forget that Shemp Howard (far left) was the original third Stooge before his youngest brother Curly assumed the role.

In 1930, Ted Healy and His Stooges, including Sanborn, appeared in their first Hollywood feature 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 theatre circuit. Healy attempted to stop the new act with legal action, claiming they were using his copyrighted material. There are accounts of Healy threatening to bomb theaters 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[2] 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 Jacob 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.[2] Shemp, fed up with Healy's abrasiveness,[2] decided to quit the act and found work almost immediately, in Vitaphone movie 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.[2] 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 even though his hair wasn't "curly". (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 comedy shorts, beginning with Nertsery Rhymes. The short was one of a few shorts to be made with an early two-strip Technicolor process; 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,[3] the Stooges split with Ted Healy in 1934 once and for all because of Healy's alcoholism and 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: Moe, Larry and Curly[]

The same year, the trio (now christened The Three Stooges) signed on to appear in two-reel comedy short subjects for 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 Pictures studio head Harry Cohn would always wait until the last minute to renew the contract.[3] 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 Lord directed more than three dozen Three Stooges shorts. Jules White directed 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).

You Nazty Spy Promo

Moe, Larry and Curly during the golden age with Columbia Pictures in their 1940's short You Nazty Spy!

According to a published report,[4] 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 Benny would 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.[2]

Curly was easily the most popular member of the team.[2] 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.[5] 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.[2]

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).[3] 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.

Shemp returns[]

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 he remained gravely ill until his death on January 18, 1952, from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Hold that lion

Moe Larry and Shemp during the (1946–1955) era with Hold That Lion which marks the only time the four stooges appear at once

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 show called Jerks of All Trades in 1949. The series was never picked up, although the pilot is currently in the public domain and 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-TV on 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 McCollum was discharged and director Edward Bernds resigned 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.

Three years after Curly's demise, 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 Besser replaced Shemp in 1956, appearing in 16 shorts. Besser, noting how one side of Larry Fine's face seemed "calloused",[6] had a clause in his contract specifically prohibiting him from being hit too hard (though this restriction was later lifted). 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.[7]


Larry and Joe Besser, as "The Original Two-Man Quartet," serenade Moe in the 1957 short Guns a Poppin!.

With Besser on board, the Stooge films began to resemble sitcoms. Sitcoms, though, were now available for free. Television was 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.[8] Several days later, the Stooges were unceremoniously fired from Columbia Pictures (the heartless pricks) after 24 years of making low-budget shorts. Joan Howard Maurer, daughter of Moe, wrote the following in 1982:

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.[5]

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. With no active contract in place, Moe and Larry discussed plans for a personal appearance tour; meanwhile, Besser's wife had a minor heart attack, and he preferred to stay local, leading him to withdraw from the act. For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Stooges hit a dead end.

The comeback: Moe, Larry and Curly-Joe[]

Seeing the success of how television, in its early years, allowed a backlog of short films thought unmarketable, the Stooge films seemed perfect for the burgeoning genre. ABC television had even expressed interest as far back as 1949, purchasing exclusive rights to 30 of trio's shorts.[9] However, the success of television revivals for such names as Laurel and Hardy, Woody Woodpecker, Tom and Jerry and the Our Gang series in the late 1950s led Columbia to cash in again on the Stooges. In January 1958, Columbia's television subsidiary Screen Gems offered a package consisting of 78 Stooge shorts (mainly from the Curly era), which were well received. Almost immediately, an additional 40 shorts hit the market, and by 1959, all 190 Stooge shorts were airing regularly. Due to the massive quantity of Stooge product available for broadcast, the films were broadcast Monday through Friday, leading to heavy exposure aimed squarely at children. This led to their baby boomer parents to watch alongside of the their offspring, and before long, Howard and Fine found themselves in high demand.[10] Moe quickly signed movie and burlesque comic Joe DeRita for the "third Stooge" role; 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.[7]


The Three Stooges with "Curly-Joe" DeRita filling the role of the third stooge. From the 1961 feature film 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.

Final years[]

In 1969, the Three Stooges filmed a pilot episode for a new TV series titled Kook's Tour, a combination travelogue-sitcom that 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 stroke just before Christmas 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 death, Moe nevertheless decided that the Three Stooges would continue, and longtime Stooge supporting actor Emil Sitka would 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, Moe fell ill from lung cancer, and died on May 4, 1975.[3]

The final incarnation of the Three Stooges. A promotional picture taken in 1975 (after Larry Fine's death): (L to R) Curly-Joe DeRita, an ill Moe Howard (who died shortly thereafter) and Emil Sitka.

The final incarnation of the Three Stooges. A promotional picture taken in 1975 (after Larry Fine's death): (L to R) Curly-Joe DeRita, an ill Moe Howard (who died shortly thereafter) and Emil Sitka.

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).


  1. Moe Howard and Ted Healy 1922–1923
  2. Moe Howard, Ted Healy, and Shemp Howard 1923
  3. Moe Howard, Ted Healy, Larry Fine, and Shemp Howard 1923–1932
  4. Moe Howard, Ted Healy, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard 1932–1934
  5. Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard 1934–1947
  6. Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Shemp Howard 1947–1956
  7. Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Joe Besser 1957–1959
  8. Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Joe DeRita 1958–1975
  9. Moe Howard, Emil Sitka, and Curly Joe DeRita 1975



Curly takes it in the ear in 1938's Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb. This photo remains one of the most popular publicity shots of the team.

Ted Healy
Real Name: Clarence Ernst Lee Nash


1, 1896(1896-Template:MONTHNUMBER-01)

21, 1937 (aged 41)

Stooge Years: 1922–1925, 1929–1934

Moe Howard
Real Name: Moses Harry Horwitz


19, 1897(1897-Template:MONTHNUMBER-19)

4, 1975 (aged 77)

Stooge years: 1922, 1926, 1929–1975

Larry Fine
Real Name: Louis Feinberg


5, 1902(1902-Template:MONTHNUMBER-05)

24, 1975 (aged 72)

Stooge years: 1925–1926, 1929–1975

Curly Howard
Real Name: Jerome Lester Horwitz


22, 1903(1903-Template:MONTHNUMBER-22)

18, 1952 (aged 48)

Stooge years: 1932–1946

Shemp Howard

Real Name: Samuel Horwitz


4, 1895(1895-Template:MONTHNUMBER-04)

22, 1955 (aged 60)

Stooge years: 1922–1925, 1929–1932, 1947–1955

Joe Besser


12, 1907(1907-Template:MONTHNUMBER-12)

1, 1988 (aged 80)

Stooge years: 1956–1957

Joe DeRita

Real Name: Joseph Wardell


12, 1909(1909-Template:MONTHNUMBER-12)

3, 1993 (aged 83)

Stooge years: 1958–1975

Emil Sitka [11]


22, 1914(1914-Template:MONTHNUMBER-22)

16, 1998 (aged 83)

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. Lugosi and Larry Fine's grandson, majority owner Eric Lamond.[12]

Comedy III has also, since 1995, authorized and provided the services of veteran actors Jim Skousen, Alan Semok, and the late 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.

Television broadcasts[]

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, KTTV in Los Angeles purchased the Three Stooges films for air, but by the early 1970s, rival station KTLA began 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-TV in Chicago currently airs all 190 Three Stooges shorts on Stooge-a-Palooza, hosted by Rich Koz, and WSBK-TV in 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 Studios in 2004. The following year, Legend Films colorized the public domain shorts 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 Entertainment released The Three Stooges Collection, Volume One: 1934–1936 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.[13] 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."[14] 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."[15] Critic James Plath of 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."[16]

The chronological series has proven very successful. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment wasted little time preparing the next set for release. Volume Two was released on May 27, 2008,[17] followed by Volume Three three months later on August 26, 2008.[18] Demand exceeded supply, proving to Sony that they had a genuine hit on their hands. In response, Volume Four was released on October 7, 2008, a mere two months after Volume Three.[19]


You'll Never Know Just What tears are

  • 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 in 1939 as a slow but straightforward presentation (dubbed the "sliding strings" version), often breaking into a "jazzy" style before ending. In mid-1942, another more driving version, complete with accordion 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.
  • He's a Japanese band man and a Japanese wife...
  • 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 II 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 Band recorded 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[]

Template:Dablink The Three Stooges also made appearances in many feature length movies in the course of their careers:


Gary Lassin opened the Stoogeum in 2004 in a renovated architect's office in Spring House, Pennsylvania, 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Philadelphia. The museum-quality exhibits fill three stories (10,000 square feet or 929 square meters), including an 85-seat theater.[20] 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.[21]

Robert Swerdlow of Dix Hills, New York has a large collection of Three Stooges memorabilia. Puppets, dolls, coloring books, paper dolls and toys are displayed in his Long Island home.

In other media[]


2009 feature film[]

A film about the Three Stooges, simply titled The Three Stooges, is scheduled to be released in 2009. The Farrelly Brothers are still attached to the project,[22] 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.[23] 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.[24] The film has reportedly been taken to MGM studios and given a November 20, 2009 release date.[25]

2000 TV movie[]

Template:Expand-section In spring of 2000, longtime Stooge fan Mel Gibson executive produced a TV movie (The Three Stooges) about the lives and careers of the comedians. Playing Moe was Paul Ben-Victor; Evan Handler was Larry; John Kassir was Shemp; and Michael Chiklis was Curly. It filmed in Sydney, Australia and 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 ran regularly on the American Movie Classics (AMC) channel during the 2000s .


NewSDMovies 3Stooges

Title card for The Three Stooges' guest appearances on The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

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-action segments 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 CBS featuring 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 The Skatebirds (CBS, 1977–1978), featuring Moe, Larry, and Curly (voiced by Paul Winchell, Joe Baker and 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).

Comic books[]

Over the years, several Three Stooges comics were produced.

  • St. John Publications published the first Three Stooges comics in 1949 with 2 issues, then again in 1953–54 with 7 issues.
  • Dell Comics published 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 through issue #55 in 1972.
  • Gold Key Comics then 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 Comics did a couple of one-shot comics, reprinting stories from the Gold Key Comics in 1989 and 1991.


A mobisode featuring CGI stooges has been announced, and a short trailer released. The theme involves the Stooges running for president.[26]

Video games[]

Main article: The Three Stooges (video game)

In 1987, game developers Cinemaware released 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 Advance in 2002.[27]


  1. Shemp Howard Bio
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  6. archival audio - "E Entertainment", May 2002
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  8. Solomon, Jon. (2002) The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion, p. 510; Comedy III Productions, Inc., ISBN 0971186804
  9. Grossman, Gary H. Saturday Morning TV, Dell Publishing, 1981
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  11. Biography of Emil Sitka The Fourth Stooge
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  17., The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 2
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  19. The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 4 Press Release
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  27. IGN: The Three Stooges Review


  • Stroke of Luck, by Larry Fine and James Carone [1] (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 [2], (Citadel Press, 1977). (Moe Howard's autobiography, completed and released posthumously by his daughter)
  • The Stooges Chronicles, by Jeffrey Forrester [3], (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. [4], (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 [5](Citadel Press, 1982, rev. 1994, 2000)
  • The Complete Three Stooges: The Official Filmography and Three Stooges Companion; by Jon Solomon [6], (Comedy III Productions, Inc., 2002).
  • The Three Stooges Book of Scripts; by Joan Howard Maurer [7] (Citadel Press, 1984)
  • The Three Stooges Book of Scripts, Volume II; by Joan Howard Maurer and Norman Maurer [8] (Citadel Press, 1987)
  • Curly: An Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge; by Joan Howard Maurer [9] (Citadel Press, 1985, rev. 1988)
  • One Fine Stooge: Larry Fine's Frizzy Life in Pictures[10], (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 Hansen with Jeffrey Forrester [11] (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1984). (Overview of Three Stooges memorabilia)
  • Stoogeology: Essays on the Three Stooges, by Peter Seely and Gail W. Pieper [12] McFarland & Company, 2007)
  • The Official Three Stooges Cookbook, by Robert Kurson [13] (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 [14], (McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1999).
  • Behind the Three Stooges: The White Brothers: Conversations With David N. Bruskin, by David N. Bruskin [15] (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. [16] (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2002).
  • Mousie Garner: Autobiography of a Vaudeville Stooge, by Paul Garner. [17] (McFarland & Company, 1999).
  • Larry, the Stooge in the Middle; by Morris Feinberg [18], (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 [19] (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1982).
  • Not Just a Stooge; by Joe Besser with Jeff Lenburg and Greg Lenburg [20], (Excelsior Books, Inc., 1984); reissued as Once a Stooge, Always a Stooge; by Joe Besser with Jeff Lenburg and Greg Lenburg [21], (Roundtable Publications, 1987). (Autobiography of Joe Besser, including anecdotes about Abbott and Costello and Olsen and Johnson)
  • The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History, From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons; by Michael Fleming [22](Broadway Publishing, 2002).
  • Last of the Moe Haircuts, by Bill Flanagan [23] (McGraw-Hill/Contemporary, 1986).
  • The Stooges' Lost Episodes, by Tom Forrester with Jeffrey Forrester [24], (Contemporary Books, Inc., 1988). (Discussion of obscure Stooges appearances, including solo films by individual Stooges)
  • The Columbia Comedy Shorts by Ted Okuda with Edward Watz, [25] (McFarland & Company, 1998). (Comprehensive history of the Columbia short-subject department; Stooge colleagues Edward Bernds and Emil Sitka are quoted extensively)
  • The Stooge Fans' I.Q. Test by Ronald L. Smith, [26]. (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 [27] (Monograph Publishers, 2007).
  • Stoogism Anthology, by Paul F. Fericano [28] (Poor Souls Printing, 1977).
  • The Three Stooges Golf Spoof and Trivia Book, by Bill Kociemba, Eric A. Kaufman, and Steve Sack. [29] (Gazelle, Inc., 1999).

See also[]

External Links[]

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