The Three Stooges went through several line-ups in their career, but the most classic is of course Moe, Larry and Curly. Now, some people swear by Shemp—he started with the group before Curly, actually—and I’m not in the interest in starting an Internet war with the Advocates of Shemp. But, you know…Curly is the iconic Stooge. There is no “Three Stooges As Legend” without Curly.
Unfortunately, Curly Howard suffered a severe stroke in 1946 and could no longer perform with Moe and Larry—necessitating the return of Shemp. However, in 1947 Curly made one final brief appearance with the Three Stooges, in scene from the short “Hold That Lion.”
The short’s director, Jules White, described how the cameo came about:
It was a spur of the moment idea. Curly was visiting the set; this was sometime after his stroke. Apparently he came in on his own, since I didn’t see a nurse with him. He was sitting around, reading a newspaper. As I walked in, the newspaper, which he had in front of his face, came down and he waved hello to me. I thought it would be funny, to have him do a bit in the picture and he was happy to do it.
And there you have it: History.
Next time: the terrifying enigma of the Fake Shemp!