Three Stooges

When the American comedy team known as The Three Stooges came together in 1925, they were doing stooging for stage and vaudeville comedian Ted Healy. The team consisted of Healy's lifelong friend Moe Howard, who'd unsuccessfully pursued a dramatic acting career in his youth; Moe's brother Shemp, who'd previously teamed with his sibling in a fifth-rate blackface act; and Larry Fine, fresh from a vaudeville turn in which he played the violin while doing a Russian dance. Healy preferred his stooges short, stupid-looking and adorned with bizarre hairstyles — Moe, Shemp and Larry fit the first two qualifications naturally, meeting the third requirement by having Moe wear a Beatles-style trim, Shemp an unkempt mop of hair split down the middle, and Larry a frizzy Einstein-like hairdo.

Ted Healy and his Stooges hit Broadway in the late 1920s in Earl Carroll's Vanities, and when Healy made his first film, Soup to Nuts (1930), the Stooges appeared (with a fourth member, Fred Sanborn), as "the Racketeers." Shemp disliked Healy and dropped out of the act to become a solo. He was replaced by younger brother Jerry, who'd been doing a comedy "orchestra" act. Casting about for a distinctive haircut for Jerry, Healy decided to shave his new stooge's hair to the bone; thereafter, Jerry was known as Curly. Continuing to work with Healy in films and on stage until 1934, Moe Howard decided to strike out with Larry and Curly in a separate act. As "Howard, Fine and Howard," the threesome signed with Columbia Pictures' short subject unit in 1934 as "The Three Stooges." They'd stay with Columbia to make 190 slapstick comedies until 1957.

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