Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Three Stooges Love 'em or Hate 'em PART III

After Curly's second stroke Moe was faced with the task of finding
a replacement. Moe and Larry had considered breaking up the act
for good but Columbia Studios were insistant that they continue
producing the two-reeler shorts. Eventually Moe's brother Shemp
was chosen to replace Curly. Shemp was less than eager to get back
into the act as he didn't like the idea of being looked upon as Curly's
"replacement" as he knew that Curly would be a hard act to follow,
but Shemp had little choice in the matter as he was still under
contract to Columbia and they made the choice for him. Shemp joined
the Stooges in 1946 and stayed with the act until his death less than
ten years later.
As one of the Stooges, Shemp fit in quite well even though his comic
style was vastly different to Curly's.
My personal opinion was that Curly was a much better Stooge than
Shemp (and a lot of other people thought this as well) but still Shemp
did "click" with Moe and Larry and he was in a number of very funny shorts.
In 1952 Curly suffered another stroke and never recovered.

The first short the Stooges made with Shemp was "Fright Night" in 1947
and this showed Shemp's comic timing and included a wild slapstick chase.
Shemp was good at ad-libbing and a lot of his improvised ad-libs were used
in the shorts. A great example of Shemp's improvisation can be seen in
"Brideless Groom". By now the early 50's a number of old shorts were being
re-made with Shemp and one of these was "A Plumbing We Will Go" which
was re-named as "Vagabond Loafers" and this turned out to be a beaut remake.
Other great "Shemp" shorts were "Studio Stoops"; "Dopey Dicks"; and
"Punchy Cowpunchers" a very funny western spoof.

In the early 1950's The Three Stooges were uncertain about the two-
reeler shorts as most studios had closed their shorts department and
Columbia was the only studio still maintaining this department, but the
writing was on the wall so the Stooges decided to have a go at a T.V.
career with a weekly series. A pilot was filmed in colour at ABC Studios.
After the completion of the pilot Shemp decided he did not want to pursue
a television career, but despite the fact arrangements had been made to
replace Shemp, the series was dropped by ABC and the pilot was never
aired. During the 50's, 3-D films made an appearance, so a few shorts
were made in 3-D, but these were not popular. The Stooges continued
making the shorts, when in November 1955 Shemp was returning home
from the fights in the back of a cab when he suffered a heart attack and
died almost immediately. He was 60. Moe was devastated by Shemp's
death and wanted to retire the Stooges, but he was encouraged by his
wife and Larry to find a replacement, this they did with Joe Besser.
I was not at all pleased with Joe Besser, and then his replacement Joe
DeRita as replacements for either Curly or Shemp. To me they both
did not have the same "oomph" and were a poor replacement.
Mind you they did the best they could under the circumstances.

Larry, (Poor ole') Curly and Moe.

Some facts: Actors who appeared in the Stooges shorts prior to becoming
"famous".....Lucille Ball; Walter Brennan; Lloyd Bridges (of Sea Hunt fame);
Dan Blocker (Hoss from Bonanza) and Jock Mahoney.
During their time at Columbia Studios, The Three Stooges made 190 shorts
of which Curly was in 97 of them, Shemp in 77 and Joe Besser in 16.
The Stooges also starred in 6 feature films with Joe DeRita from 1959 to
1965. They also "guest starred" in 15 miscellaneous feature films including
"Snow White and the Three Stooges" in 1961, "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad
World" (one of the better comedy films) and "Four For Texas" (a Rat Pack
movie with Sinatra, Martin and Davis) both in 1963.
In 1969 Larry suffered a stroke and was partly paralyzed and went into a
retirement home until he suffered a second stroke and fell into a coma in
early 1975. A week later he was dead.
Then also in 1975 Moe was found to be suffering from stomach cancer and
was hospitalized immediately.
After more than half a century of making people laugh Moe Howard, the last
of The Three Stooges, died on May 4th, 1975.
Today The Three Stooges are still as popular as ever, and they are beginning
to receive critical acknowledgement. Critic Leonard Maltin recognizes the
Stooges as "truely fine clowns".
My final word comes from Curly...."Nuk! Nuk! Nuk!....Woo! Woo! Woo!

Larry, Moe and "Poor suffering" Curly.


Hale McKay said...

It took three parts - and all three were great - to tell the epic story of the Three Stooges.

A wonderful set of posts there, Warren.

Jim said...

I love it. You see, I was too old and poor to get in on them. Too old for them when I could afford a TV to watch them. Too poor to go to the movies or have a TV to watch them when I was younger.
Now I can catch up fast. I might even get on loan all the videos our library has.

Jim said...

I forgot to say what I wanted to say. I have a pair of toothpulling pliers. I call them my 'crooked pliers.'
They are a lot easier than a string and a door knob.

Raggedy said...

Sure.... Write the good stuff when I am gone...
The stooges are great!
I had to play catch up...
You look spiffy in your kahki!
I missed you.
Have a wonderful day!
(=':'=) hugs
(")_ (")Š from da Cool Raggedy one

Peter said...

Good series of posts Wazza, we'll have to have a three stooges night when I'm down sometime.......
now lets see who could be Curly?

Merle said...

Hi Warren ~~ I'm not a fan of the stooges but you ave put a lot of work into these posta. Thank you so much for the Maths puzzle. It is really very good, and I got it first try.
Why don't you post it. Fun for our blogging friends. Regards, Merle.

Margaret said...

Hi Wazza, this is really Peter trying out posting things for Margaret.
BTW seems I'm stupid!!!!!!!! what is the signifigance of 10966025??????

Gino G. said...

These 3 blog pages about the 3 Stooges are excellent, the best summary of their careers I have yet seen.

They were extraordinary, and were the funniest act - in my opinion - ever.

Thanks for all your effort in these posts!