Larry Fine

Last updated

Larry Fine
LFine1936 color.jpg
Fine in Disorder in the Court (1936)
Born
Louis Feinberg

(1902-10-05)October 5, 1902
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedJanuary 24, 1975(1975-01-24) (aged 72)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California, U.S.
OccupationActor, comedian, musician, boxer
Years active1923–1970
Spouse(s)
Mabel Fine
(m. 1926;died 1967)
Children2

Louis Feinberg (October 5, 1902 – January 24, 1975), known professionally as Larry Fine, was an American actor, comedian, violinist, and boxer, who is best known as a member of the comedy act the Three Stooges. [1]

Contents

Early life

Fine was born to a Russian Jewish family at 3rd and South Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 5, 1902. [2] [3] [4] His father, Joseph Feinberg, and mother, Fanny Lieberman, owned a watch-repair and jewelry shop.

In his early childhood, Fine's arm was accidentally burned with acid that his father used to test jewelry for its gold content. On this occasion, the young Fine mistook the acid for a beverage and raised the bottle to his lips. Before he could drink any, his father knocked the bottle from his hand, splashing the boy's forearm with acid and causing extensive damage to it.

His parents later gave Fine violin lessons to help strengthen the damaged muscles in his forearm. He became so proficient on the violin that his parents wanted to send him to a European music conservatory, but that plan was thwarted by the outbreak of World War I. Fine later played the violin in the Stooge films, and was the only Stooge who actually played in any scenes that showed all three of them doing so; the other two were miming.

To further strengthen his damaged arm, Fine took up boxing in his teens, winning one professional bout. His father, opposed to Larry's fighting in public, put an end to his brief career as a boxer.

Acting career

Vaudeville

At an early age, Fine started performing as a violinist in vaudeville. In March 1928, while starring as the master of ceremonies at Chicago's Rainbo Gardens, Fine met Shemp Howard and Ted Healy. [5] At the time, Healy and Howard were performing in the Shubert Brothers' A Night in Spain . Since Howard was leaving the play for a few months, they asked him to be a replacement "stooge". Fine joined Ted's other stooges, Bobby Pinkus and Sam "Moody" Braun. Howard returned in September 1928 to finish Spain's national tour.

In early 1929, Healy signed a contract to perform in the Shuberts' new revue A Night in Venice. Healy brought Fine, Shemp Howard, and Moe Howard together for the first time as a trio. "Moe, Larry, and Shemp", with Fred Sanborn, appeared in Venice from 1929 through March 1930. Fine, Shemp Howard, and Moe Howard toured as "Ted Healy & His Racketeers" that spring and summer, then went to Hollywood in the summer to film Fox Studio's Soup to Nuts (1930).

Fine and the Howard brothers broke up with Healy after Soup to Nuts and toured as "Howard, Fine, and Howard: Three Lost Soles" from the fall of 1930 to the summer of 1932. In July 1932, Fine and Moe Howard teamed up with Healy again, adding Curly Howard to the group. The new lineup premiered at Cleveland's RKO Palace Theatre on August 27, 1932. Shemp Howard split off to pursue a solo career, appearing in Shemp Howard shorts, as well as numerous supporting roles in feature films starring major comedians such as Roscoe Arbuckle, W. C. Fields, and Abbott and Costello.

Larry's hair

Fine was easily recognized in the Stooge features by his hairdo, bald on top with much thick, bushy, curly red hair around the sides and back; Moe called him "Porcupine". His trademark hair had its origin, according to rumor, from his first meeting with Healy. Fine had just wet his hair in a sink, and it dried oddly as they talked. Healy encouraged Fine to keep the hairstyle.

Three Stooges features

Beginning in 1932, the Three Stooges made 206 short films and several features, their most prolific period starring Fine, Moe Howard, and Curly Howard. Their career with Healy was marked by disputes over pay, film contracts, and Healy's drinking and verbal abuse. Fine and the Howard brothers finally left Healy for good in 1934. [6]

Larry Fine (right) in 1949's Malice in the Palace with Moe Howard and Shemp Howard Malice in the Palace.JPG
Larry Fine (right) in 1949's Malice in the Palace with Moe Howard and Shemp Howard

In films from the Curly era, the Larry character did more reacting than acting, staying in the background and serving as the voice of reason in contrast to the zany antics of Moe and Curly. He was a surrealistic foil and the middle ground between Moe's gruffly "bossy" and Curly's childish personae. Like the other Stooges, Larry was often on the receiving end of Moe's abuse. His reasonableness was the perfect foil to Moe's brusque bluntness and Curly's or Shemp's boyish immaturity, but Larry sometimes proposed something impossible or illogical and was quickly put down verbally and physically by Moe, who often pulled a handful of hair out of Larry's head. [6] Film critic Leonard Maltin wrote, "Larry is the least distinctive character of the trio, but he adds a pleasing touch by siding with either Moe or Curly, depending on the situation, thereby enabling him to show moments of lucidity as well as lunacy." [7]

After Curly suffered a debilitating stroke in May 1946, Shemp replaced him in the act. The Shemp era marked a period of increased onscreen presence for Larry, who had been relegated to a background role during the Curly era. Upon Shemp's return, he was allotted equal onscreen time, even becoming the focus of several films, in particular Fuelin' Around (1949) and He Cooked His Goose (1952). [8]

On November 22, 1955, Shemp died of a heart attack. Joe Palma played a fake Shemp role in three previously contracted Stooges shorts, then Joe Besser succeeded him as the third Stooge. Joe DeRita replaced Besser in 1958 when the team was fired from Columbia Pictures.

In the earliest Stooge films, Larry frequently indulged in utterly nutty behavior. Fine livened scenes up with improvised remarks or ridiculous actions. In the hospital spoof Men in Black (1934), Larry, dressed as a surgeon and wielding a large kitchen knife, chortles: "Let's pluck him... and see if he's ripe!" In Disorder in the Court (1936), a tense courtroom scene is interrupted by Larry breaking into a wild Tarzan yell. Of course, after each of his outbursts, Moe would gruffly put him down. According to Fine's brother, Fine developed a callus on one side of his face from being slapped so often by Moe. [6]

Larry's goofiness has been described as an extension of Fine's own relaxed personality. Director Charles Lamont recalled: "Larry was a nut. He was the kind of guy who always said anything. He was a yapper." [6] Writer-director Edward Bernds remembered that Fine's suggestions for the scripts were often "flaky", but occasionally contained good comic ideas. [6]

The Three Stooges became a big hit on television in 1959, when Columbia Pictures released a batch of their films, whose popularity brought them to a new audience and revitalized their careers. [6]

Personal life

Larry Fine, Curly Howard, and Moe Howard in 1937 Three Stooges 1937.jpg
Larry Fine, Curly Howard, and Moe Howard in 1937

Fine met his wife, Mabel Haney, in 1922, when both were working in vaudeville. [9] They married in 1926. The couple had a busy social life, and every Christmas served lavish midnight meals.

Fine was called a "yes man" since he was always so agreeable. [6] His devil-may-care personality carried over to the world of finance. He was a terrible businessman and spent his money as soon as he earned it. He had a significant gambling addiction, leading him to gamble his money away at racetracks or high-stakes gin rummy games. In an interview, Fine admitted that he often gave money to actors who needed help and never asked to be repaid. As Joe Besser and director Edward Bernds recall, because of his constant and free-spending and gambling, Fine was almost forced into bankruptcy when Columbia stopped filming Three Stooges films in December 1957. [6]

Because of his profligate ways and Mabel's dislike for housekeeping, Larry and his family lived in hotels—first the President Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where his daughter Phyllis was raised, then the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood. He did not own a house until the late 1940s when he purchased one in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, California. [10]

On May 30, 1967, Mabel died of a sudden heart attack at age 63. [10] Larry was on the road and about to take the stage for a live show at Rocky Point Amusement Park in Warwick, Rhode Island when he heard the news. [11] He immediately flew home to California, leaving the other two Stooges to improvise their remaining shows at the park. [6]

Mabel's death came nearly six years after the death of their only son, John, in a car crash on November 17, 1961, at age 24. [10] Their daughter, Phyllis, died of cancer on April 3, 1989, at 60. [6] Phyllis's husband, Don Lamond, was a noted television personality in Los Angeles, best known for hosting the Stooges shorts on KTTV for many years; their son (Larry's grandson) Eric Lamond represents the family in the Stooges' holding company C3 Entertainment.

Fine is sometimes erroneously reported to be the father of sportscaster Warner Wolf, who is, in fact, the son of Jack Wolf, one of several other "stooges" who played in Ted Healy's vaudeville act at one time or another.

Final acting years and death

Larry Fine's gravesite at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California Larryfinegrave.jpg
Larry Fine's gravesite at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California

In 1965, Fine, Moe Howard, and Joe DeRita started a new TV comedy show, The New 3 Stooges , a mixture of live and animated segments. The show produced good ratings, but the men were too old to do slapstick comedy well. Fine began showing signs of mental impairment, such as trouble delivering his lines.

A few years later, the men started working Kook's Tour , a new TV series. On January 9, 1970, Fine suffered a debilitating stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body, which marked the end of his performing career. [12]

Fine eventually moved to the Motion Picture Country House, an industry retirement community in Woodland Hills, where he spent his remaining years, and used a wheelchair during the last five. [1] [6] [12] Even in his paralyzed state, Fine did what he could to entertain the other patients, and completed his "as told to" autobiography Stroke of Luck. [12] He also received visits from Moe Howard. [13] Fine remained accessible to Stooge fans, regularly hosting them despite his disability. When asked if spending his life as a Stooge was enjoyable, he answered, "it wasn't fun: it was work—but it paid off good, so I enjoyed it." [14]

Like Curly Howard, Fine suffered several additional strokes before his death on January 24, 1975, at the nursing home in Woodland Hills, at age 72. [15] He was interred with his wife and son in a crypt at Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Liberation. [16]

Filmography

Legacy

Moe Howard, his brother Shemp Howard, and Larry Fine in 1947's Sing a Song of Six Pants Sing a Song of Six Pants (1947) 2.jpg
Moe Howard, his brother Shemp Howard, and Larry Fine in 1947's Sing a Song of Six Pants

Related Research Articles

The Three Stooges American comedy team

The Three Stooges were an American vaudeville and comedy team active from 1922 until 1970, best known for their 190 short subject films by Columbia Pictures that have been regularly airing on television since 1958. Their hallmark was physical farce and slapstick. Six Stooges appeared over the act's run : Moe Howard and Larry Fine were mainstays throughout the ensemble's nearly 50-year run and the pivotal "third stooge" was played by Shemp Howard, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard again, Joe Besser and "Curly" Joe DeRita.

Ted Healy American vaudeville performer, comedian, and actor

Ted Healy was an American vaudeville performer, comedian, and actor. Though he is chiefly remembered as the creator of The Three Stooges and the style of slapstick comedy that they later made famous, he had a successful stage and film career of his own, and was cited as a formative influence by several later comedy stars. His sister Marcia Healy appeared in The Sitter Downers with the Three Stooges.

Moe Howard American actor and comedian

Moses Harry Horwitz, known professionally as Moe Howard, was an American actor and comedian, best known as the leader of the Three Stooges, the farce comedy team who starred in motion pictures and television for four decades. That group originally started out as Ted Healy and His Stooges, an act that toured the vaudeville circuit. Moe's distinctive hairstyle came about when he was a boy and cut off his curls with a pair of scissors, producing a ragged shape approximating a bowl cut.

Shemp Howard American actor and comedian

Samuel Horwitz, known professionally as Shemp Howard, was an American actor and comedian. He was called "Shemp" because "Sam" came out that way in his mother's thick Litvak accent. He is best-known as the third Stooge in the Three Stooges, a role he played when the act began in the early 1920s (1923–1932), while it was still associated with Ted Healy and known as "Ted Healy and his Stooges"; and again from 1946 until his death in 1955. During the fourteen years between his times with the Stooges, he had a successful solo career as a film comedian, including series of shorts by himself and with partners, and reluctantly returned to the Stooges as a favor to his brothers Moe and Curly.

Paul Garner American actor

Paul Albert "Mousie" Garner was an American actor. Garner earned his nickname by assuming the role of a shy, simpering jokester. Garner was one of the last actors still doing shtick from vaudeville, and has been referred to as "The Grand Old Man Of Vaudeville."

Curly Howard American actor and comedian

Jerome Lester Horwitz, known professionally as Curly Howard, was an American vaudevillian actor and comedian. He was best known as a member of the American comedy team the Three Stooges, which also featured his elder brothers Moe and Shemp Howard and actor Larry Fine. In early shorts, he was billed as Curley. Curly Howard was generally considered the most popular and recognizable of the Stooges. He was well known for his high-pitched voice and vocal expressions, as well as his physical comedy, improvisations, and athleticism. An untrained actor, Curly borrowed the "woob woob" from "nervous" and soft-spoken comedian Hugh Herbert. Curly's unique version of "woob-woob-woob" was firmly established by the time of the Stooges' second Columbia film, Punch Drunks (1934).

Joe DeRita American actor and comedian

Joseph Wardell, known professionally as Joe DeRita, was an American actor and comedian, who is best known for his stint as a member of The Three Stooges in the persona of "Curly-Joe."

Joe Besser American actor, comedian and musician

Joe Besser was an American actor, comedian and musician, known for his impish humor and wimpy characters. He is best known for his brief stint as a member of the Three Stooges in cinematic short subjects of 1957–59. He is also remembered for his television roles: Stinky, the bratty man-child in The Abbott and Costello Show, and Jillson, the maintenance man in The Joey Bishop Show.

<i>Hold That Lion!</i> (1947 film) 1947 film by Jules White

Hold That Lion! is a 1947 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 100th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.

<i>Soup to Nuts</i> 1930 film by Benjamin Stoloff

Soup to Nuts is an American Pre-Code feature film written by cartoonist, sculptor, author, and inventor Rube Goldberg and directed by Benjamin Stoloff. It was the film debut of the original four members who would later, minus Ted Healy, go on to become known as The Three Stooges comic trio. Goldberg made a cameo appearance in the film as himself, opening letters in a restaurant. Several other comedians are also featured.

<i>Have Rocket, Will Travel</i> 1959 film by David Lowell Rich

Have Rocket, Will Travel is a 1959 American science fiction comedy film starring The Three Stooges. By this time, the trio consisted of Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and new "third Stooge" Joe DeRita. Released by Columbia Pictures, the feature was produced to capitalize on the comedy trio's late 1950s resurgence in popularity.

The Three Stooges filmography Filmography of the Three Stooges

This is a complete list of short subjects and feature films that featured The Three Stooges released between 1930 and 1970.

<i>Hoofs and Goofs</i> 1957 film by Jules White

Hoofs and Goofs is a 1957 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 175th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.

The Three Stooges' comedy routines have inspired generations of tributes in other media. The following information is a partial list of such tributes. Depending on the form of media used, there are direct and indirect references to the Three Stooges. Beginning with the Stooges themselves as the trio did make small guest appearances in movies or in small bumper clips for their cartoon series. Clips from the Stooges shorts are sometimes featured in the actual footage of a movie, TV show, or advertisement, or the line from the 1934 short Men in Black, "Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard" is used. Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Howard appeared as cartoon versions of themselves.

<i>Commotion on the Ocean</i> 1956 film by Jules White

Commotion on the Ocean is a 1956 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 174th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.

<i>Fright Night</i> (1947 film) 1947 film by Edward Bernds

Fright Night is a 1947 short subject directed by Edward Bernds starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 98th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.

<i>Corny Casanovas</i> 1952 film by Jules White

Corny Casanovas is a 1952 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 139th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.

Frank Mitchell was an American film actor. He appeared in over 70 films between 1920 and 1980.

<i>The Three Stooges</i> (2000 film) 2000 television film

The Three Stooges is an American biographical television film about the slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges directed by James Frawley. This television film was entirely shot in Sydney, Australia. It was broadcast on ABC on April 24, 2000.

References

Notes

  1. 1 2 Louis Calta (January 25, 1975). "Larry Fine of Three Stooges, Frizzy‐Haired Comic, Is Dead". New York Times .
  2. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906, Familysearch.org
  3. A&E television show Biography
  4. South Street Headhouse District
  5. Davidson, Robert. "ThreeStooges.net :: The Three Stooges Journal – Issue No. 155".
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Maurer, Joan Howard; Jeff Lenburg; Greg Lenburg (2012) [1982]. The Three Stooges Scrapbook (revised ed.). Citadel Press. ISBN   978-1-61374-074-3.
  7. Maltin, Leonard (2015) [1978]. The Great Movie Comedians: From Charlie Chaplin to Woody Allen (revised ed.). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN   978-1-51432-494-3.
  8. Okuda, Ted; Watz, Edward (1986). The Columbia Comedy Shorts. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. pp. 60–102. ISBN   0-89950-181-8.
  9. Cox, Steve, and Jim Terry (2006). One Fine Stooge: Larry Fine's Frizzy Life in Pictures. Nashville: Cumberland House. p. 10. ISBN   1581823630.
  10. 1 2 3 "Stooge Bios - Larry Fine". threestooges.com. Archived from the original on July 29, 2012.
  11. You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park. Midway Pictures.
  12. 1 2 3 Larry Fine, as told to James Carone - Stroke of Luck, Siena Publishing, Hollywood, 1973.
  13. Brady, Pat (October 28, 1973). "Recovering From Stroke: It's Easy Life for the Stooge". Los Angeles Times, Valley Edition, Part XI. p. 6.
  14. Davis, Lon & Debra (2008). Stooges Among Us. Albany, Georgia: BearManor Media. p. 117. ISBN   1-59393-300-2.
  15. Townsend, Dorothy (January 24, 1975). "Larry Fine of 3 Stooges Dies After Stroke at 73". Los Angeles Times, Part I. p. 3.
  16. Forever LA

Further reading