Trivia: The Three Stooges

  • Acting for Two
    • In the short Three Dumb Clucks, Curly plays the boys' father.
    • In the Shemp remake, Up In Daisy's Penthouse, Shemp plays the boys' father.
    • In Heavenly Daze and Bedlam In Paradise, Moe plays the boys' uncle Mortimer.
    • In Self Made Maids, the boys play their fiancées and later their babies. Moe also plays the fiancées' father.
    • In Spooks, Shemp plays a close-up of a bat.
    • In Creeps, the boys play their children.
    • In A Merry Mix-Up, the boys play their triplet brothers.
  • Actor Allusion: Sofia Vergara's breakout role involved her relationship with a much older man. The Reveal involves her cheating on her husband with his father.
    • One of the nuns is played by a descendent of Moe and Curly Howard.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: While Curly could psych himself up when dealing with the bad guys and occasionally needed to be restrained, he never said, "Lemme at 'em! Lemme at 'em!" (That would be Scrappy-Doo.)
  • The Danza: Moe and Larry usually just went by their real names in every short. "Curly" was of course a nickname, and "Shemp" was how the boys' mother pronounced "Sam," his real name.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Curly's goofy walk is the result of an accidental self-inflicting gunshot wound to the left ankle when he was 12.
  • Fatal Method Acting
    • Curly suffered a stroke during the filming of the short Half-Wits Holiday. He is notably absent from the final scene of the short because he had to be written out of it in order to complete it. His health had been declining for a long time, as evidenced by his frail condition in the shorts leading up to his final one.
      • Speaking of which, the pie fight in Half-Wits Holidays was originally written to feature Curly. It also had to be reworked following Curly's stroke. In the finished film, Curly disappears just before the climax begins, and Moe and Larry carry on as a two-man team.
      • Before this, Curly had a few minor strokes that caused some of the Stooges shorts to be rewritten. Beer Barrel Polecats started out as a remake of the Laurel and Hardy film Pardon Us. Much of the planned material was ultimately replaced by Stock Footage from earlier Stooges shorts, and only part of the short was borrowed from the similar L&H film. Other shorts, notably Three Loan Wolves, merely switched Curly's and Larry's roles.
    • Also, the physical comedy was real. Curly had actually gone deaf in one ear from being slapped so much. And Larry had a permanent callous on his left cheek, also from being slapped a lot.
    • Moe actually broke some of his ribs during the filming of Pardon My Scotch in which Curly accidentally saws through the table Moe is standing on, causing it to collapse. Amazingly, Moe managed to stand for a few seconds to deliver a double-slap to Curly and Larry. In the short Who Done It? Moe sprained his ankle falling through a door and spent the rest of the short with a considerable limp that slowed down much of his physical timing.
    • In Brideless Groom, Christine McIntyre accidentally broke Shemp's nose when she punched him.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: A whole lot in The Movie, including Sofia Vergara, Stephen Collins and Jane Lynch.
    • Also from the movie, Curly is played by Will Sasso, who was a cast member on MADtv from 1997 to 2002. On the show, he's known for his impressions of Kenny Rogers (Kenny Rogers' Jackass), Chris Farley (in a COPS parody where the criminals are known celebrities), Bill Clintonnote , Fred Durst (from Limp Bizkit), and Randy Newman (which was also used on the Family Guy episode "Da Boom"note )
    • Not quite as common in the original shorts, although Lucille Ball (back before she was on I Love Lucy) appears in Three Little Pigskins, which was her first credited screen role. Hoss showed up as 'the Goon' in Outer Space Jitters.
  • Marathon Running: In 2011 cable channel Antenna TV began running mini-marathons of the shorts over the weekend.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor
    • Moe's off-screen persona was a vast contrast to the Jerkass he normally portrayed. While still the "leader" to a fault, he was reportedly very selfless and kind. The Stooges loved to do charity benefits, and stories of them clowning around for sick kids in kids' hospitals are plentiful.
    • For all that Moe loathed Curly onscreen, when Jerome [Curly] died, Moe mourned his brother deeply.
    • In addition, perennial supporting player Vernon Dent, who mainly played villains or hot-tempered comic foils, was actually a very generous, friendly, and easy-going person in real life.
    • Dent and Shemp were actually best friends. When Shemp died after a heart attack, the now-blind Dent attended his funeral and, being unable to see Shemp's body, placed his hands gently on Shemp's face and began to weep.
    • Moe, knowing that both Curly and Larry had money troubles (Curly blew his cash on nightclubs and women, while Larry had a gambling problem) convinced them to let him take half their paychecks, which he then invested in their names for their retirement.
    • Another story about Moe: During the filming of I'll Never Heil Again, the second of the Stooge films to try to put the "wacky" in Those Wacky Nazis, Moe, playing a parody of Hitler, was on set the day of his daughter's birthday when he realized that he was going to be running late if he didn't leave the set immediately. Apparently, the LAPD got a couple of reports of Adolf Hitler running red lights in Hollywood — Howard, wanting to get home on time, didn't even bother to get out of costume!
    • In his teenage years, Moe was a lifeguard at Brooklyn Beach, and actually has the saving of several lives to his credit.
    • Curly, whose character was rarely mean but often stupid, reportedly liked to commit random acts of kindness to strangers, particularly children.
  • Old Shame: Although it came later in their careers, they thought it was a mistake to do Snow White and the Three Stooges (since the film gave them little screen time, and barely any slapstick). As well as having scenes involving genuine pathos, which was not in their repertoire.
    • Moe Howard is also stated to have despised his tenure with Joe Besser, finding him to be spoiled pain due to refusing to take part in their trademark shtick. Averted with Larry, who was mentioned as being a good sport to the requests of Besser, who himself enjoyed his work on the series.
  • The Other Darrin: Usually crosses over with Not Quite Starring, often after the actual Stooges died.
    • This actually caused a bit of trouble with The Movie, which was stuck in Development Hell for 11 years because they couldn't find good comic actors to replace the originals. The roles ended up with Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes and Will Sasso as Moe, Larry and Curly, respectively.
  • Pie in the Face: Shortly before he died, Moe demonstrated that he still had deadly aim with a pie on The Mike Douglas Show by nailing a mannequin at a range of 10 to 15 feet...without his glasses.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Pretty much unavoidable with the classic 1930s and 1940s shorts. References to pop culture, trends and events of old are a given. That being said, the humor and the charm of The Three Stooges is timeless enough that the shorts continue to find new fans to this day.
    • Heck, the 2012 film wasn't even able to avoid this, even with it being set in present day (not that it really did much to avoid being a period piece). It's practically a time capsule for the early 2010s, what with indie rock tunes popping up all over and the inclusion of the Jersey Shore cast, a show that got canceled only eight months after the film premiered.
  • What Could Have Been
    • Kook's Tour as a TV series.
    • The Stooges' unnamed TV sitcom pilot, which would have seen them attempting a new (inevitably doomed) business each episode - sort of like Wallace & Gromit, with Stooges!
    • The Three Stooges Scrapbook, a sitcom which would have been partially live action and partially animated.
    • Stooge Time, another proposed series that would have featured both live action and animated segments, utilizing rotoscoping for the cartoon portions. One of the animated segments (Li'l Stooges) would have focused on the team's adolescent sons.
    • A television series (with Joe Besser as the third Stooge) that would have parodied TV news shows.
    • The Stooges had wanted to do a full-length feature film for years, but weren't able to do one until the late 1950s, by which time Curly was long dead and replaced with Curly Joe.
      • Regular Stooge writer Elwood Ullman scripted a final draft for a Moe, Larry, and Shemp feature titled Where There's a Will in 1948. The story would have found the team as city laborers who inherit a family fortune in the southern hills. Ultimately, the trio would have found themselves against another family in a premise much like the Hatfields/McCoy feud.
    • A 1946 Columbia two-reeler titled Pardon My Terror was originally written for the Stooges. They were forced to back out at the last minute after Curly Howard's stroke. The trio was ultimately replaced by Gus Schilling and Richard Lane. There was so little time for rewrites that Schilling and Lane worked directly from the Stooges' script. Schilling was given most of Curly's lines while Lane took on Moe's lines. Larry's lines were split between the two actors. The Stooges (Moe, Larry, and Shemp) eventually remade the short as Who Done It? (1948).
      • Speaking of which, the pie fight in Half-Wits Holidays was originally written to feature Curly. It also had to be reworked after Curly's stroke. In the finished film, Curly disappears just before the climax begins, and Moe and Larry carry on as a two-man team.
      • Prior to this, Curly had a few minor strokes that caused some of the Stooges shorts to be rewritten. Beer Barrel Polecats started out as a remake of the Laurel and Hardy film Pardon Us. Much of the planned material was ultimately replaced by stock footage from earlier Stooges shorts, and only part of the short was borrowed from the similar L&H film. Other shorts, notably Three Loan Wolves, merely switched Curly's and Larry's roles.
    • Curly was supposed to have a part in Malice in the Palace as the cook who the stooges mistakenly think is chopping up a dog and a cat and cooking them, but unfortunately Curly was too sick to play the part so it was given to Larry. Had Curly been able to do it, it would have been the only time Curly would appear in a Shemp short as more than just a brief cameo.
    • Supporting actor Emil Sitka was planned to be ascended to replacement Stooge following Larry's death (under the moniker 'Harry'). However, aside from odd bits of promotional material, the act never took off, due to Moe's death shortly after it was planned.
    • One of the Sitka movies planned (Make Love, Not War) would have found the boys in the Philippines (and it would have been filmed there as well, to get around the Hays Office) during World War II and having them face off against the forces of Imperial Japan. Given that the surviving script has jokes centered around the Bataan Death March, the Japanese murder of Philippine civilians, and the Rape of Manila (they even include a nod to the infamous head-lopping competitions of the occupation of China!), and a scene in which Sitka is disguised as a local woman and gets the unwanted attention of a drunken Japanese sergeant and then is slapped around by Moe for it, it's probably best that this never happened.
    • In the early 1970s, Grade Z producer Sam Sherman wanted the Stooges as the comic relief for his film R rated film Blazing Stewardesses (originally titled The Jet Set). The original premise found Moe and Curly Joe taking a sick Larry to a health resort (this would have been an excuse for Larry Fine, who had recently had a stroke, to remain in a wheelchair). Fine's health problems led to the team's scenes being reworked with Emil Sitka as the 'middle Stooge'. Moe's death in 1975 led to the Stooges being dropped from the film (though producer Sherman briefly considered bring Joe Besser back to the team). They were ultimately replaced by the two surviving Ritz Brothers (Harry and Jimmy).
    • For the 2012 film, Jim Carrey, Benicio del Toro, and Sean Penn were originally cast to be the stooges before backing out of the project.