Although these gentlemen appear to be dapper businessmen circa the mid thirties, they were actually three of the most legendary comedians in the history of film.
Beginning as a late-twenties vaudeville comedy act under the direction of Ted Healy, his show featured himself and his stooges, Moe Horowitz, his brother, Samuel and friend, Louis Feinberg.
The trio performed under the stage names of Moe and Shemp Howard and Larry Fine.
Healy landed his troupe a movie deal and they produced one short, Soup to Nuts, before the Stooges were offered their own contract, which Healy sabotaged.
This led to an irreparable rift between Healy and the Stooges, ultimately leading to the Three Stooges to start performing on their own. Shemp, decided to pursue solo work, which led to Moe and Larry to recruit Moe’s other brother Jerome to join the act. Which he did, after shaving off his mustache and hair, adopting the new moniker of “Curly.”
By 1934, the now-named “The Three Stooges” signed on to appear in two-reel comedy short subjects for Columbia Pictures, eventually making 190 of them. The Stooges popularity grew on television, where their shorts were discovered by generation after generation of viewers.
With this new lineup, The Three Stooges made public appearances and starred in several features including Have Rocket, Will Travel (1959), Snow White and the Three Stooges (1961), The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962), The Three Stooges in Orbit (1962), The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze (1963), and The Outlaws Is Coming (1965).
With a career resurrected, The Three Stooges became one of the most popular and highest-paid live acts in America throughout the Sixties. Moe, Larry and Curly Joe also filmed 41 live-action color short comedy skits for The New Three Stooges for use on an animated series, appearing at the beginning and end of each of the 156 cartoons (the trio also voiced their respective characters.)
Merchandising was also a hit for the Stooges, as their images were licensed for everything from t-shirts and posters to comic books and novelty records. The Stooges also appeared in video games and clothing as well as various animated incarnations (including The Three Robonic Stooges and appearances on Scooby-Doo) and collectable dolls from Spumco.
Through DVD releases, the Three Stooges continue to attract an adult audience. Recently, the trio have been the subject of two different slot machines. The first is a progressive jackpot that incorporates the icons of Moe, Larry, Shemp, Curly, and period props such as film clappers, film cans, Bowler hats, cash, and old telephones. It also has three special features; Moe Money, Curly Cash Feature and Larry’s Loot Feature. The second Stooges slot includes special features such as Curly’s Cashola, Larry’s Stash and Moe’s Moolah. All in all, far more profitable than an eye poke or a slap across the face.
Their influence has been felt across popular culture in particular in the work of director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell in the Evil Dead series.
in 2000, Stooge-fan Mel Gibson produced a bio-film that starred Paul Ben-Victor (Moe), Evan Handler (Larry), John Kassir (Shemp) and Michael Chiklis (Curly). A long in-development feature film was released in 2012 and starred Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Sean Hayes (Larry) and Will Sasso (Curly).
As long as people like slapstick and physical farce and enjoy laughing, The Three Stooges will be relevant.