hilarious violence has always been the Stooges ‘ stock certificate in trade. Howard has punched, slapped, gouged and poked partners Curly ( Joe de Rita ) and Larry ( Larry Fine ) and their predecessors since the act began as The Three Lost Soles back in Prohibition days .
Moe ‘s fist rattles like a snare drum on Curly ‘s bald frontal bone and booms like a bass drum as it thumps Larry ‘s diaphragm. Both Saturday matinee audiences and sophisticate night club crowds laugh hilariously. But Howard — who began a farseeing career playing a drunkard ‘s son in a Mississippi riverboat drama — is wise in the ways of show clientele. He knows forte laughs could suddenly turn into soft moans of sympathy .
“ The public ca n’t see old people cracking each other, ” the diminutive, mop-headed amusing said in an consultation at the Imperial Hotel. “ They ‘ll wind up feeling regretful for us. We work hard to be curious. We want people to laugh at us, not commiseration us. ”
And so Howard, the only surviving member of the original Stooges that included his former brother Shemp, admits that his retirement is not army for the liberation of rwanda off. Curly and Larry will do the like or go their discriminate ways. And one of show business ‘ oldest and favored acts will be laid to rest .
“ possibly, ” Howard says reflectively, “ we could get three young guys and teach them all the routines and the pratfalls — and the timing, besides. That sulfur very crucial. ”
For Howard, there will be writing — his autobiography, “ I Stooge to Conquer, ” recalling how he was drawn to footlights and. movie sets during his boyhood years in Brooklyn, when he played truancy to hang around the Vitagraph Film Studio and run errands for stars like John Bunny and Fatty Arbuckle .
He can relate how he worked with oldtime stars like amusing Ted Healy, a childhood ally, and first base grew his royal poinciana shepherd dog haircut in 1921, “ long ahead those Beatles were even born. ”
not many performers can recall the days when melodrama extolling virtue and sobriety were performed on Mississippi riverboats. Howard can. His stage was a slant pack of cards in 1919, when he played Simon Slade, The boy who murders his bibulous forefather, in “ Ten Nights in a Barroom. ”
HOWARD dates himself with each recall. But a blunt inquiry about his age brings only : “ I ‘ll celebrate my 45th year in picture business June 11. And I started very youthful .. ”
Howard call tell, most of all, of one of the most marvelous and profitable comebacks iii picture business history. It was up and devour for the Stooges, who began playing the Borscht Circuit summer resorts, moved on to night clubs, and in 1934 signed with Columbia Studios to do two-reel comedies. There were a entire of 204. The shrink lasted until Jan, 15 1958 — the longest in apparent motion painting history .
It appeared, at the. time, that the Stooges were finished. But a few months after the shrink lapsed, the first of their honest-to-god films was fed into television. The studio made $ 7 million. The Stooges, with no rights on the films, made nothing .
THE OLD movies went through the television millrace fast. The populace liked them. The producers wanted more. The Stooges nodded, smiled — and held their hands out for 50 percentage. More shorts, and full-length movies like “ The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze ” were to follow. Personal appearances took them arsenic far as Toronto, Canada, where at the Canadian .National Exhibition, they broke a 76-year attendance read .
At a series of special shows in Pittsburgh — one in which an angle-minded showman required parents to be brought to a cabaret by their children — the Stooges were heaped under winnow letters laboriously printed or scrawled by very young fans .
“ We did n’t make any money out of those first television movies, ” Howard says. “ But they sure did a lot for us. ”
Howard said that while he and his partners are exceptionally good friends, they barely see each other away from exercise .. Each is a disjoined and distinct personality. Curly, the crew cut clown, is a loner who stays home most of the time to read weighty stuff like “ Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. ” Larry is a gregarious extrovert who reads detective novels and likes to do the township immediately and then .
Howard and his wife are on a ’round the world vacation trip. however, Howard says, he may scout some locations for a comedian travelogue the Stooges plan to make .
“ We ‘ll be in Champagne, France, in one sequence. All three of us will jump into a wine tub and start crushing grapes. curly eats one, I hit him and the contend starts. The owners chase us out … ”