A “Stooge” was a term used in vaudeville to describe a person that impersonated a member of the audience who is called on stage.
Today the term “Stooge” is synonymous with the act known as The Three Stooges. Their brand of slapstick was not only hilarious but took a lot of work to get the timing just right.
Moe (Moses Horwitz) spent his childhood in vaudeville, starting out as a “gopher.” Later he became friends with Ted Healy and the Three Stooges were born, originally known as Ted Healy and His Southern Gentlemen. Shemp (Samuel Horwitz) shared his brother’s love of vaudeville and joined him early on with aspirations of becoming a famous actor. Curly, or Curley (Joeseph Horwitz) depending on how you want to spell it, had a natural ability for physical comedy with superior athletic ability despite his rather large frame. With no formal training in the field, he was brought in when Shemp decided to pursue a solo career. Having long curly hair at the time, he shaved his head to make Healy allow him to join the group. Larry (Larry Fineburg) was added to the group when Healy saw his rather failing solo act and offered him a job on the condition that he lose the violin he played in his act.
The Three Stooges became not only one of the greatest physical comedy acts of all time, but also pioneered some of Hollywood’s firsts. They performed the first music video with the Alphabet Song and attempted a primitive form of 3D in which things thrown would be placed on strings and flew straight towards the camera. Mel Gibson created a biopic of the group in 2000 which aired on TV but has since seemed to have fallen off the face of the Earth. You may find it on YouTube in nine parts and it’s a great attempt at a look into the Stooges’ lives. They also springboarded many famous entertainers’ careers such as a very young Lucille Ball.
The Farrelly Brothers’ (Dumb and Dumber, Something About Mary, and Kingpin) much-anticipated Three Stooges movie will finally begin shooting on March 14, but in a wacky twist, it looks like the film has now lost Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn, and Jim Carrey for the respective roles of Moe, Larry and Curly. This has opened up the roles to a casting call. The filmmakers’ ultimate goal is to cast actors who can emulate the appearance of the Stooges, including the looks, vocal patterns, speech rhythms, and physical abilities. The film will be written as if the Stooges were still performing today.
If you think you have the chops to be a Stooge, this is your chance.