Three Stooges

The Three Stooges was an American comedy act in the 20th century. Commonly known by their first names, Larry, Moe, & Curly (sometimes spelled "Curley"); Larry, Moe & Shemp; and other lineups became famous for their work in movies and starred in many short features that consisted of masterful ways of showcasing their extremely physical and sometimes controversial brand of slapstick comedy.

Missing image
The most common Three Stooges lineup, from left to right: Moe, Curly and Larry


  • "Hey, Moe! Hey, Moe!" (Curly)
  • "Soitenly!" (certainly) (Curly)
  • "Oh, wise guy, eh?" (Curly)
  • "You're a smart imbecile!" (Moe)
  • "Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk!" (Curly)
  • "I'm a victim of circumstance" (Curly)
  • "Whoop whoop whoop whoop" (Curly)
  • "Hey Porcupine!" (Moe, to Larry)
  • "I'll moider you!" (Moe)
  • "What's the big idea?!?" (Larry)
  • "Hey knucklehead! Wake up and go to sleep!" (Moe)
  • "Meep meep meep meep!" (Shemp, frightened or surprised)
  • "Spread out!" (Moe to the others)
  • "Quiet numbskulls I'm broadcasting." (Moe)
  • "Ow, that hurts!" (Joe Besser)
  • "Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard." (over the public address system in a hospital).


Examples of Archetypical Stooge slapstick:

One Stooge pokes the other in the eyes with the first and second fingers of one hand. After a while, the other Stooge catches on and holds his palm perpendicular to the edge of his nose to block this. The first stooge then uses the index finger of each hand to jab both eyes at once.

One Stooge strikes his own outstretched fist with his other fist. After being struck, the hand revolves downward, back and onto another Stooge's head.

The triple slap: a straight man slaps the faces of all three Stooges in one energetic sweep.

See [1] ( for more examples.


The Stooges got their name and their start in a vaudeville act called Ted Healy and his Stooges. Brothers Harry Moses Howard (Moe) and Samuel Howard (Shemp) (original last name Horwitz) were later joined by Larry Fine (real name Louis Feinberg). Shemp left for a career in feature movies (notably as trainer Knobby Walsh in the "Joe Palooka" movies), and brother Curly Howard (real name Jerome, called "Babe" by family members) took his place. Moe was throughout their career the heart and soul of the troupe, acting as both their main creative force and business manager. Comedy III Productions, Inc., formed by Moe, Larry and Curly Joe DeRita in 1959, is the owner of all of the Three Stooges trademarks, copyrights, and merchandising.

The original Three Stooges split from Healy over his drinking and maltreatment of them, signing on with Columbia Pictures for just a few hundred dollars a week. They went on to star in nearly two hundred theatrical short movies in the 30s, 40s and 50s, the longest such series in history. They also made a TV pilot called Jerks Of All Trades in 1949, but the project was canceled. (It is available on video today.) Curly suffered a stroke in 1946 and Shemp returned to the trio. Shemp died of a heart attack in 1955. Outtakes and Stooge short regular Joe Palma (filmed from behind) were used to finish Shemp's contract.

Joe Besser was the fifth (third) Stooge from 1956-1958. Besser had a clause in his contract specifically prohibiting him from being hit too hard. (He sometimes socked Moe though!) But the "shorts" genre had become unprofitable over the years, partly due to television, so Columbia, the last studio still doing shorts, gave up and ended the series in 1958. When his wife had a heart attack, Besser was unwilling to travel, and withdrew from the act. Moe signed Joe DeRita as the sixth (third) Stooge. DeRita quickly shaved his head and became "Curly Joe". But without a film contract, and with vaudeville pretty much dead, they tried night clubs, but with little success.

At this point it seemed that the career of the Three Stooges was over. However, television was now to become their savior. Columbia Pictures started releasing the series to TV syndication that year and suddenly a whole new generation of children discovered them, becoming instant fans. The Stooges performed live on stage, they appeared at supermarket openings, and they were hot television guest stars on various variety shows. They went on to make a number of successful full-length feature movies over the next decade and a short lived TV series that was part live action and part animation before age finally caught up with them. Their last project, Kook's Tour (1970), was a sort of travelogue made for TV, but Larry Fine suffered a stroke during the production, and was unable to complete the project. Kook's Tour was never released, though it is available today on video. Moe also had a minor career as a non-Stooge, appearing in a few movies during the 1960s.

Larry died in early 1975. After his death, it was decided that long time Stooge short actor Emil Sitka would replace him, and be dubbed "The Middle Stooge". Several movie ideas were considered, including one called "Blazing Stewardesses" according to Leonard Maltin, who also uncovered a pre-production photo. However, Moe passed on a few months later, and it was inconceivable that the Three Stooges continue without a Howard, although Curly Joe did do some live performances with a new group of Stooges in the early 1970s.

Del Lord directed more than thirty-seven of the "Three Stooges" movies. Jules White directed many others.

In Spring of 2000, a TV movie aired on ABC. This movie was based on Michael Fleming's authorized biography on the Stooges: The Three Stooges: From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons.

Feature motion pictures

The Three Stooges also made appearances in many feature length movies in the course of their careers:

The Stooges appeared in a short-lived television show called The New 3 Stooges which ran from 1965 to 1966 and featured a mix of live action, and animated Stooges shorts.

In 1977, there was a short-lived CBS animated series called The Three Robonic Stooges featuring Moe, Larry, and Curly as bionic cartoon superheroes with extendable limbs, similar to the later Inspector Gadget.

There are four Three Stooges shorts that are in the public domain, and which can be downloaded at no charge from the Prelinger Archive:

[[2] (] Disorder in the Court (1936)
[[3] (] Malice in the Palace (1949)
[[4] (]Sing A Song of Six Pants (1947)
[[5] (]Brideless Groom (1947)


Moe Howard
Real Name: Harry Moses Horwitz
Born: June 19, 1897
Died: May 4, 1975
Stooge years: 1922, 1926, 1929-1971

Larry Fine
Real Name: Louis Feinberg
Born: October 5, 1902
Died: January 24, 1975
Stooge years: 1925-1926, 1929-1971

Curly Howard
Real Name: Jerome Lester Horwitz
Born: October 22, 1903
Died: January 18, 1952
Stooge years: 1934-1946

Shemp Howard
Real Name: Samuel Horwitz
Born: March 4, 1895
Died: November 22, 1955
Stooge years: 1922-1925, 1929-1932, 1947-1956

Joe Besser
Real Name: Joe Besser
Born: August 12, 1907
Died: March 1, 1988
Stooge years: 1955-1958

Curly Joe DeRita
Real Name: Joseph Wardell
Born: July 12, 1909
Died: July 3, 1993
Stooge years: 1958-1971


  • The 1985 film, Stoogemania tells the story of an obsessed Three Stooges fan, and includes clips of their classic Shorts.
  • The 1994 Song, "Two Reelers" by Frank Black tells the story of the four "original" stooges and Jules White, and protests the dismissal of The Three Stooges as mere low-brow slapstick: "If all you see is violence/Well then I make a plea in their defense/Don't you know they speak vaudevillian?"
  • A 1987 computer game by Cinemaware, The Three Stooges, has the stooges trying to save an orphanage where they engage in wacky adventures and engage in some of their classic comic scenes.
  • In the 1995 computer game Space Quest 6 (, there was a minigame called Stooge Fighter (, which was a humorous tribute to the stooges.
  • In an episode of the cartoon Pinky and the Brain entitled "Pinky & The Brain And... Larry", Pinky and The Brain are inexplicably joined by a third wheel Larry in their plan to get into the whitehouse posing as wallpaperers, whose unwelcome addition to the team causes Stooge-style antics to ensue.
  • The King of the Hill episode "A-Fire Fighting We Will Go" contains several references to the Stooges.

External links

nl:Three Stooges es:Los Tres Chiflados


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