10 Slapstick Facts About the First Three Stooges Short
Watch your eyeballs—the first Three Stooges short ever premiered more than 80 years ago, on May 5, 1934. Though Woman Haters clearly showed us what Larry, Curly, and Moe were all about, they weren’t quite The Three Stooges we know and love today. Here’s what you need to know about their first foray into film.
1. The Stooges were cast in Woman Haters almost immediately after Columbia approved their contract.
Their studio switch from MGM to Columbia officially happened on March 19, 1934. Columbia didn’t waste any time—they had the Stooges start filming Woman Haters on March 27.
2.Their salary for starring was $1000 per week—split three ways.
After their third short, Men in Black, was nominated for an Oscar, the comedians' pay was increased to $7500 weekly. But they still had to split it amongst themselves.
3. They don’t play Larry, Curly, and Moe.
Woman Haters marks one of the few times the Stooges play characters other than themselves. Larry plays “Jim,” Moe is “Tom,” and Curly is “Jack.”
4. Curly is billed as “Jerry Howard.”
Curly’s real name was Jerome Horwitz, and Moe—really Moses Horwitz—was his brother. He replaced another brother, Shemp (Samuel Horwitz), after Shemp decided to go out on his own. His nickname, by the way, was a definite misnomer. His brothers called him “Babe” when they were growing up, but when Shemp married a woman who also went by the nickname “Babe,” it became too confusing. So they switched to calling Jerry “Curly,” which was another childhood nickname. According to Moe, he gave his brother the nickname because he hoped Jerry would have curly hair for their mother to play with—Moe had long hair and their mother liked to put finger curls in it.
5. Woman Haters is written in rhyme.
None of the other Stooges films were written this way; it was part of a "Musical Novelty" series Columbia did in the 1930s. Other "Musical Novelties" included an early Betty Grable picture called Love Detectives.
6. It’s the only Stooges short to feature Larry as a main character.
Larry usually fulfilled more of a sidekick role, with Moe taking the lead as the "smart" Stooge.
7. Lead actress Marjorie White died not long after the premiere.
Sadly, female lead Marjorie White never got the chance to become a Hollywood legend. In August of 1935, White was in a car accident in Santa Monica. The vehicle she was riding in overturned, and White was seriously injured. She died of internal injuries the next day.
8. It featured a couple of famous Curly firsts.
Curly’s first “nyuk-nyuk-nyuk” was in this film, as well as his first “woo-woo-woo-woo,” but they’re not quite the refined versions we’re used to now. Curly borrowed the latter catchphrase from comedian Hugh Herbert, though Herbert's version was a little softer and more subdued.
9. Larry really broke his finger.
When the Stooges fell out of the berth toward the end of the short, Larry actually broke a finger.
10. Composer Louis Silvers won an Oscar the next year.
But it wasn’t composing for the Stooges that earned him an Oscar. The composer, whose work was used in more than 250 movies, won for scoring One Night of Love (1934).