What do you think of when you hear the phrase “The Three Stooges”? Most likely you imagine silly black and white characters smacking each other over the head. What you probably don’t know, however, is the sad and somewhat gloomy story of the Stooges’ lives off-screen. These are 25 Terribly Tragic Facts About The Three Stooges.
Fired by Columbia
After more than two decades of making low budget clips for Columbia, they were let go in 1957 rather unceremoniously.
He once got 6 stitches in his head during a shoot and had to finish it wearing a wig.
They are possibly the least successful household name ever. During their lifetimes, they were far out shined by more high profile acts like Charlie Chaplin.
The Stooges didn’t start much better than they ended. Ted Healy, the founder, was one of the most prolific comedians of the 20’s and 30’s. In 1937, he was beaten to death in a parking lot. Although police never apprehended anyone, it was believed to have been orchestrated by rivals in the movie industry.
Whether it was under their founder, Columbia Pictures, or another studio, the Stooges often got the short end of the proverbial stick. While they made millions, they saw very little of it.
Although the Stooges were known for slapstick comedy, directors required them to use actual scissors, mallets, and saws. Needless to say this resulted in many injuries, sprains, and close calls.
Following their termination, Larry’s gambling addiction got the best of him and forced him into bankruptcy.
Blows to the Head
Because their slap stick comedy wasn’t as staged as many people believe, the several blows to Curly’s head caused a bit of bleeding actually inside his head. He got to a point where he couldn’t make public appearance anymore.
Healy's Bomb Threats
Before his death, Healy (the founder) had been known for his abrasiveness. When the Stooges were offered a role by Fox (without Healy), he got jealous and even threatened to bomb any theaters where the Stooges were performing.
The surviving grandchildren of the stooges have filed lawsuits against each other over profit stealing. The stooges would be rolling in their graves…
The Three Brothers
The Horwitz (Howard) brothers – Moe, Curly, and Shemp, only appeared in one short clip together. Every other episode involved a non-related stooge.
Due to their satirizations of Hitler and the Nazis, the Stooges apparently ended up on Hitler’s “kill list.” Not bad for a trio of comedians.
A Messed Up Childhood
Not only did the Stooges have a rather depressing adult life, their childhoods weren’t much better. As a child, Larry lost his brother, and his arm was destroyed by acid (at his father’s jewelry shop). Actually, his children didn’t fare much better. In 1961, his 24 year old son died in a car accident.
One characteristic feature of Curly was his walk. What most people don’t know is that he got his famous walk by shooting himself in the foot when he was younger. He refused the surgery out of fear.
Despite being the most popular stooge, Curly had some bad habits and ended up drinking quite a lot. He also blew his money and had numerous failed relationships. He then had to quit the Stooges due to deteriorating health. Unfortunately, he died shortly thereafter.
After being fired by Columbia, Moe wanted to say his final goodbye to the executives but wasn’t even allowed inside the building because he didn’t have an up-to-date pass.
Or rather his lack of hair (because he had to shave it for the show) caused him to feel unappealing to women and led to many bad habits like drinking.
Curly's Love Life
Curly unfortunately didn’t have much luck with successful relationships. Among a series of relationships here and there, he also married Marion Buxbaum. After 9 months of marriage and lots of money spent, she drug him through a long nasty public divorce. He did, however, settle down with his fourth wife until his death in 1952.
After letting the Stooges go, Columbia pictures had more than 18 months of video recorded that they could use to still profit off of the Stooges.
It wasn’t until the 1980’s that the Stooges finally gained recognition for their work…about 60 years after their start.
The president of Columbia Pictures, Harry was known for building the studio into a powerhouse, but he was also known for being something of a jerk. He even remarked that running a studio was, “better than being a pimp.” Even when Curly suffered several strokes, Cohn forced him to continue working.
Larry’s worst depression came when his wife, Mabel, died of a heart attack while the Stooges were on tour. Larry’s heart broke and shortly thereafter he suffered a stroke. It left him wheel chair bound until his death in 1975.
In 1983, the Stooges got a Hollywood Star; its unveiling drew the largest crowd up-to-that-point.
As we’ve already established, the head of Columbia Pictures wasn’t a very straight shooter. The worst part, however, was the fact that he consistently underpaid the Stooges while profiting from their work.
The Failed Revival
Although there were attempts to bring back the Stooges, they were cut short by Moe’s death on May 4, 1975.
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