The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy act of the mid–20th century (19301975) best known for their numerous short subject films, still syndicated to television. Their hallmark was physical farce and slapstick. In films, the Stooges were commonly known by their first names: "Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard" or "Moe, Larry, and Shemp Howard", among other lineups depending on the films; there were six or seven stooges. Moe and Larry were always present until the very last years of the ensemble's forty-plus-year run.

Although they never acted in any Disney movies, they were the inspiration for the creation of the characters: Yao, Ling, and Chien Po from Mulan and Reggie, Darnell, and Two Fingers from The Princess and the Frog as referred by co-director, Ron Clements due to their slapstick comedy in the movies. In Flubber, Moe made an appearance on Weebo's screen during the scene where Weebo is watching T.V. and tells the robot butler to clean up after Brainard talks to his girlfriend at the picnic table. In the Jungle Cubs episode; "'Tree For Two", they appeared as moles. In the Mighty Ducks episode; "Mondo-Man", Chameleon was seen transforming into Moe and Curly Howard as well and again Curly in "Take Me to Your Leader", "Zap Attack", and "The First Face-Off". They also appeared as a 3-headed alien in the Timon & Pumbaa episode; "Space Ham".

Last Years

In 1969, the Stooges filmed a pilot episode for a new TV series entitled Kook's Tour, a combination travelogue-sitcom that had the "retired" Stooges traveling around the world, with the episodes filmed on location.

On January 9, 1970, during production of the pilot, Larry suffered a paralyzing stroke, ending his acting career along with plans for the television series.

Plans were in the works for long-time foil Emil Sitka to replace Larry as the "middle Stooge" in 1971, but nothing ever came of that idea other than the proposed publicity still reproduced here. Three years later, in mid-December 1974, Larry suffered yet another stroke at the age of 72 and four weeks later an even more massive one. Slipping into a coma, he died a week later of a stroke-induced cerebral hemorrhage on January 24, 1975.

Devastated by his friend's death, Moe nevertheless decided that the Three Stooges should continue. Several movie ideas were considered, one of which, according to critic and movie historian Leonard Maltin (who also uncovered a pre-production photo), was entitled Blazing Stewardesses. Before pre-production could begin, Moe fell ill from lung cancer, and died three months later on May 4, 1975. However, Blazing Stewardesses was eventually made, starring the last of the surviving Ritz Brothers comedy troupe and released to moderate acclaim later that year.

Joe DeRita continued to perform live into the mid-1970s with Mousie Garner and Frank Mitchell as "The New Three Stooges", enjoying recognition well into old age, before retiring by 1979.

Of the remaining "original-replacement" Stooges, Joe Besser died of heart failure on March 1, 1988, followed by Joe DeRita of pneumonia on July 3, 1993. Emil Sitka, who was announced as a Stooge but never performed as such, died on January 16, 1998.


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