Three Stooges: Physically Abused in Films, Financially Abused By Columbia Pictures

The Three Stooges first entertained movie viewers in 1934 in movie shorts  and were viewed on television from 1949 till 64 years later and are still being viewed today on television. They also appeared in many feature movies.

Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn told the Three Stooges, that shorts were fading out of the movie scene, so they never asked for or were given a raise in their 23 years with the film company. They didn’t receive any royalty checks from the shorts being shown on television, since it wasn’t in their contracts.

My mother was reluctant to let us watch the Three Stooges, since she thought they were too violent for us kids to watch them punch, poke and hit each other.

Moe Howard 1897-1975

Moe Howard was born Moses Harry Horowitz on June 19,1897 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York and died May 4, 1975 in Los Angeles, California from lung cancer.

Whenever Moe was in a scene it was a foregone conclusion, that he would usually get the last punch, poke or hit in any physical exchange, with the other two Stooges getting the worst of it. He was the Stooge that had the cereal bowl haircut.

His high school education ended after two months. He married Helen Schonberger on June 27, 1925, who was a cousin of the magician Harry Houdini. Moe died on May 4, 1975 a month short of their 50th wedding anniversary. She died only five months later dying in October of 1925.

Shemp Howard 1895-1955

Shemp Howard was born Samuel Horowitz on March 11, 1895 in Manhattan, New York. Shemp was in a successful career as an actor, when his brother Curly had a stroke, which prevented him from being in the Three Stooges shorts so Shemp was with the Stooges from 1946-1955. To me he was not as funny as Curly, but he did a creditable job while replacing Curly. He died on November 22, 1955 in Hollywood, California and died of a heart attack.

Curly Howard 1903-1952

Curly Howard was born Jerome Lester “Jerry” Horowitz on October 22, 1903 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York. He died on January 18, 1952 in San Gabriel, California of a cerebral hemorrhage.

My favorite of the Three Stooges was always Curly. Will never forget his famous “nyuk, nyuk, nyuk” and “soitenly”, which were trademark sayings of his. I will never forget the Three Stooges entering a barn and one of the Stooges saying ” I don’t see a single cow” and Curly said ” I don’t even see a married one”.

Curly had shot himself in the leg at the age of 12, when cleaning a pistol and had a noticeable limp the rest of his life, due to his fear of having corrective surgery. Curly had to have his hair shaved, since it was thought he didn’t look funny with long hair. He was very self-conscious about his head being shaved, since he thought women would not be attracted to him.

His personal life did not go well, as he was married four times and he married his last wife Valerie Newman in 1947 and they were still married at his death.

Larry Fine 1902-1975

Larry Fine was born Louis Feinberg on October 5, 1902 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He died on January 24, 1975 in Woodland Hills, California of a stroke.

Like fellow Stooge Curly he was involved in an accident, when he started to accidentally drink acid, from a bottle and the bottle contained acid that was used to determine if gold was real in his father’s jewelry shop. His dad stopped him from drinking the acid in time, but the acid spilled on his forearm.

He took up the violin to strengthen his arm and also took up boxing to further strengthen his arm. So when the Three Stooges were shown playing violins, only Larry was actually playing the violin.

His wife Mabel Harvey, who he married in 1926 didn’t like to clean house, so they lived in hotels till the late 40’s, when they bought their first home. Their son John died in a car crash at the age of 24 in 1961 and Mabel died six years later in 1967.

Larry had several strokes was confined to a wheelchair the last five years of his life, before his death in 1975.

The Three Stooges we know the best Moe, Curly, Shemp and Larry may be gone now, but we can still thank them, for all the films they left behind to entertain us for many years to come.

The following list from tvguide.com lists Three Stooges shorts, that can be seen on AMC, IFC and myTV till the end of July:

http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/stooges/tv-listings/197285

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Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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