"Hello, Hello, Hello!" The Three Stooges were a highly successful vaudeville and film comedy team, best known for the 190 short features they produced for Columbia Pictures from the 1930's-1970's, films which remain in syndication today. The prodigious creative output of the Stooges resulted in over 450 film credits. Numerous studies have been written about the Stooges, and countless video compilations have been released over the years. This LibGuide is designed to provide readers with several essential, yet comprehensive, resources to learn more about the history, filmography, and bibliography of the Three Stooges, highlighting works which illustrate their cultural, social, and political impact in popuar culture.
A Brief History
In 1922, while performing at the Prospect Heights Theater, Moe Howard encountered an old friend, Ted Healy, who was experiencing success on the vaudeville circuit. Moe and his brother Shemp joined Ted Healy to critical success. In 1928, Larry Fine joined the troupe, and they began performing as Ted Healy and his Three Stooges. Following a performance of the musical A Night in Venice (1929), the team was signed onto the Rube Goldberg film Soup to Nuts (1930), their first motion picture. In 1932, Shemp had the opportunity to work in the successful Joe Palooka films, and reluctantly left the group, replaced by Moe and Shemp's younger brother, Jerome (Curly). The troupe produced several feature films through the early 1930's.
In 1934, Moe, Larry, and Curly parted ways with Ted Healy, signing a contract with Columbia Pictures to star in several two-reel short films (approximately 16-18 minutes in length). Their first short film was released on March 5, 1935, to mixed reviews. Following the release of their second short film, Punch-Drunks, in November of 1935, the Stooges were signed on for a seven year contract with the studio. Their third film, Men in Black, was nominated for an Academy Award. On January 19, 1940, the Three Stooges released You Nazty Spy!, the first film released in America to satirize Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. The short was released nine months before Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. At the time, America remained neutral and largely isolationist about the War. You Nazty Spy was in defiance of the Hays Code, which prohibited many types of political and satirical messages in film.
In 1945, Curly suffered a stroke, and had to cease filming in 1946. From 1934-1947, Moe Larry and Curly produced 97 short films for Columbia. After Curly left the group, Shemp returned to fill the roll. Together, the three produced 77 short films. In 1955, Shemp passed away, and was replaced by Joe Besser, a prolific comedian. After only 16 shorts, and one year, Joe Besser's contract was terminated. The group resigned with Columbia in 1959, with Joe DeRita as the third Stooge, and produced six feature length films with Columbia, and one on loan to Fox. The troupe remained active through 1970, appearing in public and on television, until Larry suffered a stroke. With this, the team finally disbanded. Both Larry and Moe passed away in 1975.
The Three Stooges remain in syndication, and in 2012 a feature length film was produced in homage to the Three Stooges. Two additional films are currently in production.