The four original Stooges all appeared onscreen together just once
All three Howard brothers (Moe, Shemp, Curly) and Larry Fine were together for the first and last time on film.
Image: The Everett Collection
The Three Stooges are one of the most iconic and well-known comedy acts of early twentieth-century America. Some might say they are the best of ANY century in America.
The Stooges started as a vaudeville act with comedian Ted Healy. The lineup was Moe Howard, his older brother Shemp and violinist Larry Fine. Fine and the Howard brothers would act as bumbling assistants to Healy, who would react violently whenever they interrupted him. While it was all for the sake of a gag, there was an element of truth to this dynamic, at least on Healy's part.
Ted Healy was not an easy person to work with. He was abrasive and consumed copious amounts of alcohol. Shemp left the act to pursue a solo career because he was fed up with Healy. Moe suggested his younger brother, Jerry, could fill the spot. Jerry shaved his long red hair, adopted the name Curly and helped take the Stooges to a new level.
In 1934, Moe, Larry and Curly signed a contract with Columbia Pictures and officially became The Three Stooges. For the next twelve years, they produced wildly successful comedy shorts. These include classics like Hoi Polloi, Three Little Beers and A Plumbing We Will Go.
Sadly, by 1946, Curly’s health had deteriorated greatly and he suffered a stroke while filming the short Half-Wits Holiday.
Moe asked Shemp to rejoin the group while Curly recovered. It turned out to be a permanent change. Curly never regained his former strength and animated personality. Half-Wits Holiday was not his final appearance in a Stooge film, however.
Curly made a small cameo in the 1947 short Hold That Lion!
He played a sleeping passenger on a train who the Stooges mistook for someone else. Curly, with a full head of hair, barked and snored doing his signature, “Whoop, whoop, whoop.” The scene was recycled in the 1953 short Booty and the Beast. It's a memorable last appearance by many people's favorite Stooge.
Curly filmed another cameo as a chef in the short Malice in the Palace — but the footage was cut from the final film. He passed away in 1952.
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