Our family watched Snow White and the Three Stooges for a recent family movie night. We got the free DVD by sending in forms from Kellogg's cereal boxes. Our whole family enjoyed the movie. Snow White was played by figure skating's Olympic Gold Medalist, Carol Heiss. It was a musical fairy tale with plenty of ice skating. My wife loves musicals and figure skating. My daughter loves fairy tales. And of course my son and I love the Three Stooges. But this one was a box office bomb. Being short on slap stick, many traditional Stooge fans just would not accept it.
As any serious Stooge fan knows, the Three Stooges lineup evolved several times. Here is a run down:
1) Moe, Larry, and Shemp. (1922-1932) Brothers Moe and Shemp Howard with longtime friend Larry Fine.
2) Moe, Larry, and Curly. (1932-1946) The "classic" and most popular lineup. The heyday of the Stooges in my opinion. Howard brother "Curly" replaces Shemp who leaves the act.
3) Moe, Larry, and Shemp. (1947-1955) Following Curly's stroke and eventual death, Shemp is persuaded to rejoin the act.
4) Moe, Larry, and Joe. (1955-1958) Following Shemp Howard's death, he is replaced by Joe Besser.
5) Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe (1958-1975) When Joe Besser leaves the act due to his wife's illness, he is replaced by "Curly" Joe DeRita. While other incarnations of the Stooges starred mainly in short subjects, this is the lineup that is best known for six feature films. The "classic" lineup received top billing in only one feature film, "Rockin' in the Rockies."
6) Moe, Harry, and Curly Joe. Well, this lineup never actually made it to film. But after Larry Fine's death, Moe Howard asked Emil Sitka to be the third stooge ("Harry"). Sitka was already affectionately known as "the fourth stooge" due to his numerous appearances in Stooge films, being the only actor to have worked with every single combination of the Three Stooges. But the unexpected death of Moe Howard robbed Sitka of the opportunity to be an official Stooge. Without a Howard brother in the act, and with no originals left, it was thought best to end the Three Stooges.
So if you count Emil Sitka, you could say that there were seven stooges all together. Snow White only befriended three.
The various Three Stooges lineups have appeared in comics through the years. What follows is a Three Stooges cover gallery which celebrates each combination.
In 1949, a publisher called Jubilee (later St. John) published the only two Golden Age appearances of the "classic" Stooge lineup.
The most common comic book version of the Stooges was the lineup with Curly Joe DeRita as the third Stooge. In the 1960s, between Dell and Gold Key, over 50 issues with photo covers of this lineup were produced. The issues in my personal collection include issues 17 and 35.
So there you have it! a very abbreviated history of the Three Stooges and their history in comics. Ironically, while Curly Howard was the most popular third Stooge, he only appeared in two issues of all the Golden and Silver Age comics. But modern publishers would not even think of any other lineup.