Three Stooges Bio Pic Project in Limbo!

Three Stooges 001 Producers/Directors/Writers Peter and Bobby Farrelly have been trying to put together a biographical movie on the lives and careers of the infamous “Three Stooges” for about ten years now. Just when it appeared that they had nailed down their cast and were ready to go into August 2009 production in time to make a 2010 release date, the cast commitments are falling apart. First to back out was Sean Penn, who had been set to play “Larry,” the bald-on-top, fuzzy-on-the -sides character in the right of our photo. Penn cited personal reasons and a desire to spend more time with his family as the causes behind his decision.

On the heels of Penn’s back-out, Jim Carrey, who had signed on to play the bald and stout “Curly,” our guy in the far left of our photo by putting on fifty pounds for the role, is now rumored as the second actor who will be pulling away from the production. Only Benecio Del Toro, the great Spanish actor who signed up to play the dominant “Mo” character in this crazy mix is still on board, but that could change also with the departure of the two big name stars. The Farrelly Brothers have their script and other production needs in place, they are just stopped for now by a scattering, escaping cast of big star chicken outs! I understand that Paul Giammati is the probable replacement for Penn as Larry, but there is no word on the street about who may replace Carrey as Curly.

Like many of you, I grew up watching the Stooges and their inane physical assaults upon each other through all those countless episodes of “dumb and dumber” adventures with wine, women, and work. It’s undoubtedly no coincidence that the Farrelly Brothers are behind the Stooges movie. These are the same guys who brought us that “Dumb and Dumber” movie series a few years ago.

Moe (Moe Howard) was always my favorite Stooge because of his early behavioral resemblance to some of the grocery store managers I encountered as a kid worker, just starting out. To my profound surprise, I later encountered “Moe” again on my doctoral dissertation committee, and also at insurance agencies, banks, repair shops, and even in the presence of some traffic cops and co-workers. Do you remember “Moe”? He was the guy who was forever pretending to be smart enough to do the job that was always over his head.

Curly (Jerome Howard) was Moe’s real life brother – the idiot child who usally caught the brunt of Moe’s displaced anger and aggression for everything bad that happens. Totally hapless in his ability to immediatelystand up for himself, Curly absorbed the pain with a frustrated cry of “NYUK! NYUK!” and a rapid-fire, self-inflicted hand slap of his own face.  His memory for passive-aggressive revenge wasn’t bad, however. A few minutes after each absorbed asault, whenever Moe had returned to his total state of unawareness, Curly would then get him back in some equally painful physical way. – Hammers to Moe’s head were effective, but Curly’s “floating hands butterfly slap” was the real bomb. Moe fell for it every time.

Larry (Larry Fine) was the non-descript, non-relative member of the original Stooges trio. Larry always gave you the impression that he might escape the fate of the Stooges by taking these two easy steps: comb his hair and get far away from Curly and Moe. He was just too dumb to ever do it. As a result, he got his hair pulled, his nose sawed, and his eyes poked on a regular basis by the two Howard boys – and in whatever comibination they came after him.

When Curly Howard had a stroke, he was replaced on screen by brother Shemp Howard, who then played (What do you know?) a character called “Shemp.” (Sadly, Curly later died.) Shemp brought his own brand of creative physical idiocy to the screen. On the broadest band of description, however, Shemp was the guy who looked like Moe and acted like Curly. When Shemp Howard also died and was then serially replaced by the characters named “Joe” and “Curly Joe,” I never watched again. The Three Stooges were then dead to me after the passing of Shemp. Plus, I was older then – and too cool for a while to watch anything like the Three Stooges. Now that I’ve rounded third and am headed for home, I’m a Stooges fan again all the way!

I hope the Farrelly Brothers can get this Stooges movie act finally off the ground and through the force field of all the human egos that are bound to get in the way of making a film of this nature. If they don’t, somebody needs to grab a saw and put it to good use on each of their Farrelly noses.

Editorial Note, 10/01/09: I want to thank Paul Groner for “gently” writing to point out three  errors of fact in my original article: (1) I misspelled Moe Howard’s name as “Mo”; and (2) I neglected to note that Curly Howard’s birth name was “Jerome,” not “Curly;” and (3) I stated that Shemp Howard replaced Curly Howard as one of the Three Stooges upon the death of the latter. In reality, Curly left the ensemble after he suffered a stroke. Shemp replaced him as the result of Curly’s illness. – Curly died later, after Shemp was already established in his replacement role.

Those of you who really know me undertsand how important “getting it right” is to me – and how unimportant “being right” is to my psyche. As a result, I have corrected those mistakes today in the piece above in the hope that they will straighten out these facts to any readers I may have misinformed. My apologies also go out to any Stooges fans who were offended by my mistakes.

I may not remember the Three Stooges perfectly, but the perfect joy they brought to my childhood shall live forever. Next time you find I’ve made a mistake, and I will make some,  just let me know, matter of factly. I listen a lot better to reasonably expressed opinions snd information.


8 Responses to “Three Stooges Bio Pic Project in Limbo!”

  1. Art Audley Says:

    Hello Bill,

    Well what a surprise! Something else we have in common-I never realized you were a Stooges fan. Way back in 1978 after my discharge from the US Coast Guard one of the local television stations was broadcasting the 3 Stooges. My devoutly Methodist mother suggested that “all the beer you’ve been drinking has ruined your brain!” While I gave up the beer over a decade and a half ago my enjoyment of the Stooges remains.

    Unlike you however, Shemp is my favorite. Shemp (Real name Samuel) acquired his nickname when his Lithuanian born mother would call for Sam but with her heavy accent it came out “Schem”, evolving into Shemp. Incidenatlly Shemp was born on March 17th, 1895 as if you needed another reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. 😉 Shemp died of a heart attack on November 23rd, 1955.

    His replacement, Joe Besser, had appeared on radio shows in the 1940’s with Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor and Fred Allen. He also appeared as “Stinky” on the Abbott and Costello Show. He appeared in the last 16 short films the Stooges produced.

    The final Stooge, Curly Joe, was Joseph De Rita (born Wardell) born to French-Canadian and English parents. He was a Catholic, the only non-Jewish member of the Stooges. He appeared in the feature films of late films of the late 1950’s/early 1960’s when Joe Besser left the group to attend to his ailing wife.

    Thanks for putting a smile on my face this Sunday morning.

    Art Audley
    La Plata, MD

  2. Bill McCurdy Says:

    Hello back at ‘ya, Art!

    Good to know you’re a Stooges fan too!

    Thanks too for that additional background information on three of the “boys.” I often wondered about the nickname “Shemp” – and now, thanks to you, we know.

    Stay in touch, friend!

  3. Marc Says:

    Bill Chott may soon be considered for the role of Curly. For more info, read the Movie Blog at:

    For more info on Bill Chott, read

  4. V.E.G. Says:

    Jack Benny is famous for being 39. He has been 39 since his homeland was independent (Lithuania) at the time. Uncle Sam does not recognize Lithuania as a Soviet Republic. Benny’s birthday is the also the namesake’s anniversary of Lithuania.

  5. V.E.G. Says:

    Joe Besser is the very last third stooges for the Columbia Shorts department and after Flying Saucer Daffy is the very last short to be produced, Jules White, the director decided to it was time to hang it up.

  6. Caramoan : Says:

    some insurance agencies are very greedy that is why i always take a second thought when dealing with them.,”

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