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A ‘Three Stooges’ Family Album

A ‘Three Stooges’ Family Album

Some years ago
I was contacted by Paul Howard, the son of Moe Howard, to ask if I would
participate in a documentary he was making about his famous father, the
eye-poking, head-banging leader of The Three Stooges. Of course, I said yes. In
subsequent conversations Paul revealed that it had taken him many years to come
to terms with being the offspring of a Stooge. That piqued my curiosity, and if
you’re a lifelong Stooge fan (like me) I think you’ll have the same reaction to
the finished product, a nine-part series called The Three Stooges: Hey Moe! Hey Dad!, which is now
available in an elaborate boxed DVD set.

Paul and his
filmmaking partner, Frank Basile, cover all the bases as they explore present-day
Stooge fandom (including an annual convention in Philadelphia), the enduring
appeal of the slapstick trio, and their personal and professional history.  The show draws on interviews with Stooge family
members (including Paul’s sister Joan Maurer), experts, and admirers (including
Whoopi Goldberg, voice artist Billy West, and yours truly) as well as a
treasure trove of rare photos, home movies, television clips, and scrapbook
ephemera. There are even audio recordings of Moe, Larry, and Joe De Rita. And unlike
almost every previous Stooge tribute, this one makes extensive use of the
Columbia Pictures library and doesn’t rely solely on public domain footage to
show the comics at work.

I’ve been a
Stooge fan from the moment I first encountered the trio on television when I
was eight-years-old. In those days there was no place to read about them, so in
my teens I began conducting my own research and published the first Stooge
filmography in Film Fan Monthly,
which I expanded for my chapter about their career in my 1970 book Movie Comedy Teams. I saw the aging
knuckleheads make a personal appearance at my local theater when they were
promoting The Three Stooges Meet Hercules
in 1962 and had the thrill of corresponding with Moe Howard, who was an avid
and articulate pen pal for several years. (You can read more about that HERE.)

My early
efforts have been eclipsed by decades of writing and research by other diligent
fans and enthusiasts, but I’ve never lost my boyhood interest in the Stooges. I
look forward to each new issue of The Three
Stooges Journal
, faithfully published by Gary Lassin, who operates The Stoogeum in Philadelphia,
home town of Larry Fine.

A less devoted
admirer might find Paul Howard’s nine-part miniseries overlong; the story could
have been told more concisely, but I didn’t mind. And I love all the goodies
that come along in the boxed set: a replica script of their 1935 two-reeler Uncivil Warriors, a reproduction of a
giveaway comic book from the 1960s, sheet music for “The Alphabet Song,” a
facsimile of Moe Howard’s membership card in Actors Equity, personal photos, and
much, much more.

You can read
about the Stooges in books and online, but this heartfelt documentary series
brings them to life in a different way. I’m honored to have participated in it.


 

 

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