The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History, From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons

The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History, From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons

Michael Fleming

Language: English

Pages: 320


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

More people today can name the members of the Three Stooges than can name three justices of the Supreme Court. The Stooges are comedy icons whose enduring appeal and slapstick legacy have made them one of the most famous and beloved comedy troupes in the world. Michael Fleming's The Three StoogesTM is the first complete, authorized biography of the men who made pie fights part of our national cultural heritage.

A juggernaut of wise guys, headlocks, and unforgettable insults, this book tells the whole history of the Stooges, starting with their origins in the golden years of vaudeville, when the boys from Brooklyn honed their craft. Moe, Curly, and Shemp Howard were born Moses, Jerome, and Samuel Horwitz--and were believed for many years to be the three least accomplished sons of their Lithuanian immigrant parents. Ultimately, of course, the Three Stooges reinvented the rules of slapstick comedy: never be caught unprepared in a pie fight, never slap one wise guy in the face if you can slap three in a row, and never underestimate the value of a good poke in the eye.

Signed in 1934 by Columbia Pictures to a renewable contract that had them making at least nine short films a year, the Stooges learned firsthand about the sharks swimming through Hollywood's early waters. And after nearly a quarter century of producing the short films for which the Stooges are so well known and loved, the studio declined to renew their contract in 1954, and the pioneering pie-throwing professionals lost their jobs. Fittingly, though, Moe & Co. were destined to have the last laugh: the advent of television revived their careers after the decline of vaudeville and Hollywood shorts, and a new generation of belly laughs was born.

From the Stooges' humble origins to movie stardom to comedy legends, there's something here for every level of fan--from folks who watched them on television as a kid to Stooge scholars and certified "knuckleheads." Featuring over two hundred photographs, many of them rare; interviews with Stooge friends and families; and a complete filmography with every "woob-woob" and crashed society cocktail party lovingly detailed, this book will be treasured by all Stoogedom.

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who were mistaken for the prof—at a time when Shemp was alive and well. From here, we get nearly the entire old short, with a few new flourishes. Once the officials of Anemia locate the real prof, the boys are told they’re getting a last meal—“raw potatoes boiled in pure varnish, and head cheese garnished with nails, rusty nails.” We can see Shemp, but again from the back as Joe Palma does his best to look like him. The boys knock out the captain of the guards, and we’re back into the old short

Healy was convinced he’d take his place—solo. If only he could ditch his stooges. “Ted’s manager, Paul Dempsey, said to us that Healy was going to sign up with MGM to play in features,” said Moe. “He didn’t think that Ted ought to continue with the boys. He was doing very well on his own in features, which he was doing in between the shorts that we made there. And we were agreeable. And right there we shook hands and decided to part company.” Even though Healy would no longer have to pay them,

brother Jules, who directed all of the politically charged shorts. All of them were Jewish, and had become aware of the toll the Nazis were taking on Europe and the Jewish population there. “We all felt strongly during World War Two,” said White. “We lived through that war, and the feelings ran so high you can’t believe it. Everyone here, with the Japanese colony nearby, we’d look at every one of them and suspect they were spies for Japan and that they were going to destroy us. When the little

Back then, with the existence of the United States at risk, the film community lined up for duty. In fact, there was an armed services office right outside of the Columbia lot, and filmmakers were regular visitors. “Everybody in the film business, all the guys I worked with, all went into the service in various capacities and got commissions because of their knowledge of making propaganda films,” said White, himself the director of many films, and episodes of the series Perry Mason and My Friend

stole every scene he was in, this wildly talented man-child with the high-pitched voice and the distinctive physical mannerisms. Offscreen, he was largely withdrawn, particularly when he was in the company of his brother Moe. Though Moe once described his relationship with Curly “as close as it’s possible to be without sleeping with him,” even Moe acknowledged he didn’t really know what Curly was doing when he wasn’t working. “Socially, he was as hard to contact or grab as a wild rabbit,” said

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