I Stooged to Conquer: The Autobiography of the Leader of the Three Stooges
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Telling the full story of the head Stooge, this work reveals the life-long career of a legendary funnyman. Born into a working-class family in Brooklyn, Moe Howard transformed his real-life experiences of getting into mischief with his brother Shemp into the plots that would have millions rolling in the aisles. From childhood, Moe’s ambition was to perform—whether it was plucking a ukulele on the beach, or playing a halfwit on a Mississippi showboat. But he only found success when he joined with Shemp and Larry Fine to play, as the New York Times put it, “three of the frowziest numskulls ever assembled.” As the brains behind the Three Stooges, he went on to act in hundreds of their movies, introducing his little brother Curly into the act when Shemp departed, and, after Curly’s death, partnering with Joe Besser and finally Joe de Rita. This is Moe Howard’s self-penned, no-holds-barred story of the ups and downs of his life, ranging from personal family tragedies to tidbits about career mishaps and triumphs. It overflows with the easygoing charm, generosity, and inspired lunacy of the “wise guy” behind America’s most successful comedy trio.
Rhode Island reds and Plymouth Rocks was a multicolored hen we called Henrietta. She followed me everywhere. At milking time I got a kick out of spraying her with milk. One day Henry, as I named her, fell into a mound of cow manure. I rushed for my water bucket, washed her off, dried her with a burlap bag, and then put her in a warm oven to dry. We almost had roast Henry when my brother Jack turned up the oven to cook something. I found her in the nick of time. I can remember that whenever I
took the trouble to put them up again. There were always exceptions to the rule, and the Cleveland Palace in the RKO circuit was one of them. This theater was built without missing a thought for the actors’ comfort. The Palace was beautiful not only outside and in the auditorium, but also backstage. Most impressive was the second floor of the theater, which sported a regulation-size pool table, chess tables, comfortable chairs, an ice machine and soft drinks, playing cards, cigars—it had all the
“Pop Goes the Weasel.” He comes to a truck with a man on the back waiting to make a speech. Larry hops into the truck, drives off. The man on the back somersaulted off and broke his arm. The Stooges’ Oscar-nominated short Men in Black (1934), with Ruth Hiatt as the nurse and Charles King as the anesthesiologist. In the film Men in Black, a takeoff on Clark Gable’s hit Men in White, we were cut by flying glass when we slammed a glass door in one of the hospital scenes. Three Little Pigskins,
the scene.” Forty-five minutes later McCarey had the three doubles on the field, and ten minutes after that they were in uniform, wearing wigs which the prop man located. With cameras rolling, Curly ran along the sidelines, and Larry and I were blocking. Then the football players charged toward us, the four news cameramen yelled, “Hold it for a picture,” and we stopped to pose. The camera cut and moved into a long shot as our doubles came in. All of the players, including the doubles, landed in
curls … a mass of freckles … At about two in the morning, shaking with chills and saddened by the weeping of my mother on the porch above, I knew I had to give myself up. I coughed softly a couple of times, then I coughed a bit louder. “I think Moe is under the porch,” said my father, grabbing a candle and bringing it out to the lattice. He pulled it aside, peered in, and speaking softly so he wouldn’t frighten my mother, urged me to come out. Shemp knelt alongside my father. He wouldn’t dare go