|Above: Larry, Moe and Curly, not necessarily in that order.|
Dateline May 5, 1934 – The Three Stooges release their first short “Woman Haters” and nothing was ever the same again.
The Three Stooges made more than 190 two-reelers over a 26 year period, but they started in the knockabout world of Vaudeville. Ted Healy was already a hit in Vaudeville when, in 1922, he took on new actors for his stageshow. Among them was Moe Howard, a childhood friend that had appeared, briefly, in the earlier act Ted Healy and his Southern Gentlemen.
Moe’s job was to act as an average audience member who is called onstage. Hilarity ensues. The showbiz term for this stock character was “stooge.” Soon Shemp, who was Moe’s real life brother, and Larry Fine joined the act. They appeared with Healy in one short, “Soup To Nuts.” but after a dispute over the movie contract, Larry, Moe and Shemp went solo, or as solo as a trio can go. They also took with them some of the material they had performed with Healy.
Intellectual property rights being intellectual property rights, Healey sued. However, he lost. As it turned out the material was owned by the show’s producer, the Shubert Theatre Corporation, which gave the Stooges the right to perform it.
The Three Stooges then had a brief rapprochement with Healy and were to appear together in a new Shubert production. However, when Healy got a better offer, he quit the show, taking Two Stooges with him; Shemp, who had threatened to quit previously, finally decided to pack it in. In need of a third Stooge, Moe suggested his younger brother. Jerry Howard joined the act as Curly.
Healy and the Stooges signed a contract with MGM in 1933 and made a number of shorts. When that contract expired a year later The Three Stooges split from Healy for good. Soon afterwards they signed with Columbia and released “Woman Haters,” the first official Three Stooges short
Growing up I watched a lot of Three Stooges in my time, but I don’t recall ever seeing this one. It’s all done in rhyme and song, all 20 minutes of it. There’s no way they could carry that over 2 2-reelers, let alone 190. Enjoy:
Further reading at Not Now Silly: