The Three Stooges have entertained us for over 75 years. Their career on stage, film and television spanned more than 40 years. From 1930 to 1970, they appeared in over 200 film shorts and features.
The Stooges also have a very healthy fan base. The Three Stooges Fan Club, based in Pennsylvania, has over 2000 members and runs ‘The Stoogeum’, a museum packed with Three Stooges memorabilia. Three Stooges film festivals and conventions are held worldwide.
If you want to find out what all the fuss is about, you are in luck since The Three Stooges are well represented in the holdings at the Everett Public Library. Here are some examples:
The Three Stooges: Amalgamated Morons to American Icons: An Illustrated History by Michael Fleming is a good, short history of the Three Stooges. The book traces the childhoods of the Howard brothers (Moe, Curly, and Shemp), their early days on stage, their short comedies with Columbia Pictures, the decline of Curly’s health and Shemp’s return to the act, and their features with ‘Curly Joe’ DeRita.
One Fine Stooge by Steve Cox and Jim Terry is the authorized biography of the frizzy haired stooge, Larry Fine. Fine gave Terry a collection of clippings and photos and his blessing to write a biography worthy of the Stooges. With the help of Stooges fan Steve Cox, Terry’s work was finally published in 2006. The book includes a number of unpublished photos, including some of Curly Howard, taken after his forced retirement from the Stooges due to a stroke. Of the dozens of books written about The Stooges, One Fine Stooge is one of the finest. (Pun intended)
In 2010, Sony Pictures Entertainment completed an eight volume release of the 190 Columbia shorts. Everett Public has volume three of The Three Stooges Collection which has 23 shorts, produced between 1940 and 1942.
The Stooges’ films were often a reflection of the world at the time they were made. In You Nazty Spy, Moe is Moe Hailstone, who has a striking resemblance to Adolf Hitler. The Stooges were the first to satirize Hitler on film, 9 months before Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. As You Nazty Spy begins, the Stooges are wallpaper hangers, an occupation reportedly once held by Adolf Hitler. They are recruited by businessmen Iznay, Onay, and Amscray to overthrow King Herman the sixth and seven eighths of Moronica because ‘There’s no money in peace’. The ‘Nazty Spy’ is the boys’ secretary ‘Mata Herring’ who, with the help of her ‘magic 8 ball’, predicts a grim future for them. The masses rise up and revolt, the trio end up on the run, and eventually become lunch for a den of lions.
The Stooges are employed as census takers in the 1940 short No Census, No Feeling, making four cents for each person interviewed. As the short opens, the boys, like over eight million others in 1940, are unemployed. Some were fortunate enough to draw a paycheck, temporarily, working for the 1940 census. The census takers had to work hard for their money, asking individuals questions about age, employment, income, marital status and so on. In one memorable scene, Moe stands at a man’s front door and asks “Are you married or happy”. Immediately following the question, the man ducks and Moe is hit in the face by a piece of flying dinnerware.
The Three Stooges are being reinvented for a 21st century audience. The Farrelly Brothers, who made the film There’s Something About Mary have filmed a Three Stooges feature for release in April, 2012. The movie promises to retain the traditional slapstick style of the classic shorts, with a modern-day storyline. Stooges purists may not approve of this ‘update’ which includes scantily clad ladies, Lobsters stuffed down trousers, and members of the cast of ‘Jersey Shore’. However, the impersonations of the Stooges are spot-on.
Over forty years since their last filmed performance, The Three Stooges remain popular. Books continue to be written about the boys and the majority of their film and TV work is available on DVD. The Three Stooges should eye poke and bonk heads for another 75 years, to the dismay of mothers everywhere.