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Author Topic: When did Curly begin to slip?  (Read 10239 times)

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Offline scribe8585

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When did Curly begin to slip?
« on: December 15, 2004, 10:30:43 AM »
When did it first appear that Curly was beginning to "lose it" ? As far as I can tell from my various Stooge books, he didn't suffer his first stroke until early 1945, but it seems to me like he began to slip a little bit before that. After watching Spook Louder and Crash Goes The Hash last night, I want to say sometime between spring of 43 and winter of 44.

Thoughts?

Offline Baggie

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2004, 12:47:32 PM »
I'd agree with you there, some time around that. It was reported that by 1942, they had to stop or decrease their number of personal tours and shows because Curly couldn't handle it, and it was clear he was becoming ill. That's what I read anyhow.
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Offline kinderscenen

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2004, 03:52:12 PM »
As I recall from the last Forrester Bros. book, Shemp replaced Curly during some personal appearances as early as 1942. This surprised me, since while it does make sense--no one else had ever mentioned it.  It just appears that there's this big secret (or whatever you want to call it) during this time.  Of course, you don't want the world to know about Curly's health problems, but perhaps the secrecy (or "ignorance") of the problems just made things worse.  There are quite a few examples of performers (Elvis comes to mind) who should've been able to retire, or at least recouperate, before touring/filming again.

I can't seem to recall any shorts from 1942 in which Curly seemed to be "slipping", in fact, he seemed to be pretty much the usual Curly--perhaps I should look at the later '42 shorts.

Too bad there's no one out there who may have seen the 1942-era Shemp performing with Moe and Larry, or that there's no publicity (obviously) of it.

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Larry: They’ll hang us for this!
Moe: I know! Let’s cremate him!
Larry: Can’t do that--we ain’t got no cream!

Offline Double Deal Decker

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2004, 03:58:53 AM »
He seemed ok in most of the 1943 shorts , "Dizzy Pilots" and "Dizzy Dectectives" are good examples.  I was unaware that Shemp had filled in for him in some live appearances asearly as 1942.  On film , it is easy to notice the start of his decline by the 1944 releases.

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2005, 10:27:29 AM »
Actually I can't tell in any of the shorts really if he was starting to slip, of course they all where older by the mid 40s anyway, I think Curly acted as he always did. We have to remember that Moe was 47, and Larry was 42, and Curly was 42, in 1945. When they started doing The Three Stooges shorts they were still in there 20's. As for Curly starting to slip, I personally don't think it is visible on any short he was in.

Offline Stooge

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2005, 11:36:44 AM »
Actually I can't tell in any of the shorts really if he was starting to slip, of course they all where older by the mid 40s anyway, I think Curly acted as he always did.

As for Curly starting to slip, I personally don't think it is visible on any short he was in.

Watch AN ACHE IN EVERY STAKE and THREE LOAN WOLVES back to back and try to tell me there's no difference between Curly's performances in those shorts.

Offline kinderscenen

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2005, 07:53:21 PM »
I noticed "slippage" mostly with Curly (of course--due to medical reasons); some with Shemp (again, medical reasons--just not as severe as Curly's), but for Moe and Larry, not as much. However, when I compare "The Outlaws IS Coming!" to "Kook's Tour", there are noticeable differences, but I'm not certain if these are due to merely age, or a combination of age/health/and type of film. Larry slurs some words in "Kook's Tour", but it seemed like that happened in earlier (way earlier) films as well. 

Watch AN ACHE IN EVERY STAKE and THREE LOAN WOLVES back to back and try to tell me there's no difference between Curly's performances in those shorts.

That brings up an interesting point--Ed Bernds (among others) stated that in "Three Little Pirates" Curly was almost (or was, I can't remember the exact quote) back to his normal self.  Uh...what were they drinking?  To compare the "Maja" routine of 1946 to the vastly superior 1941 version  is evidence that Curly wasn't the same.  I understand the need to keep the money train going, but how delusional could a group of people be?

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Larry: They’ll hang us for this!
Moe: I know! Let’s cremate him!
Larry: Can’t do that--we ain’t got no cream!

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2005, 08:29:56 PM »
As someone with some health care background, I can say that it's rarely ever the case that a chronically ill person goes straight downhill. Sometimes, they rally themselves (for whatever reason, maybe sheer willpower) and have one or more periods of relatively good health again.

"Micro-Phonies" and "Idiots Deluxe" were made during Curly's physical decline, but he seems like his old self and he turns in two very funny performances. However, in "If A Body Meets A Body" (made the same year, 1945), his timing is off and his speech seems halting. I find that short hard to watch because it always makes me feel sorry for the poor guy— he's obviously trying hard, but he's just not making it.

It's a complicated subject, and a lot less was known in the 1940's about strokes and other neurological problems than we know now... which still isn't much, considering the complexity of the human organism. As an M.D. friend of mine once said, "It's a wonder that it works at all!"

 [twitch]
 

Offline kinderscenen

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2005, 07:43:09 PM »
Ah, yes--I'm using 21st century knowledge to talk about a 1940's problem.  Until (I suppose) the major strokes, it may have been passed off as "Curly partying too much".  Interestingly enough, I wonder how much was known 25 years later when Larry had his strokes.  At least according to "Stroke of Luck", he had no desire to rush back, or even continue performing.  Of course, being 67 rather than 42 may have had something to do with it, and it seems that he had a more serious "beginning" stroke than Curly.

This whole subject fascinates me because of the differences of thought between then and now.  Nowadays, I don't think a performer would have a stroke, get "patched up", and continue to perform.  Then, because of the lack of knowledge, it was hoped that some therapy, rest, and a strict diet would be a "cure".

I have to agree--it doesn't seem like we know that much more today than we did 60 years ago. 
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Moe: I know! Let’s cremate him!
Larry: Can’t do that--we ain’t got no cream!

Offline Senorita Rita

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2005, 01:34:36 PM »
  Until (I suppose) the major strokes, it may have been passed off as "Curly partying too much".  
As tired as I've become of seeing this (Curly's "decline") topic discussed, I have to agree that it is still  very intriguing. I cannot understand what the hell anyone working with the Stooges during that time was thinking. Really, the resoning there was just illogical. The man looked like hot death after 1945...and sounded terrible...and couldn't remember 2 lines in a row...an no one though there was a problem? He was even in the hospital for several weeks, so there's no excuse as to why they wouldn't have known that he had major health issues.

I also have to wonder how much of this "misinterpretation" of Curly's condition by those around him at the time has to do with the way the actor is portrayed today. From what I've read, some associates found him to be a little "off"(socially, mentally, and emotionally.) But I have the feeling that these sentiments refer to a specific time, and not to those who knew him in earlier years. If they were referring to  his condition during his illness, that would make perfect sense. The fact that he was also known for being occaisionally introverted only further bolsters the idea that maybe there was something "wrong" with him.( And because of that, he was somehow lead down some self-destructive path ending with his demise.) Now, there may be some truth to that. Who knows?  But personally, I find the fact that this great comic actor's life story is almost always reduced to some sad man-child/typical out-of-control-star/tears-of-a-clown BS to be an insult to his memory. None of us will ever know how much of his decline was self-induced, and how much of it was out of his hands. Despite what some authors and historians want us to believe, I do not think that the Stooges were the same, or even similar (at least not on a conscious level) to the actors who created them. Nor do I believe that Jerry Howard was some perpetually sad, pathetic man who got famous by dumb luck and drank himself to death. The guy was a brilliant comic, and all truly great comedians have to be headstrong, smart and quick-witted.  He doesn't get enough credit for creating a believable charachter. Instead, the actor and the charachter have somehow become one in the same.  A totally unfair dismissal of talent, IMO.

-end of rant-
...to say the least, if not less...

Offline kinderscenen

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2005, 12:00:29 PM »
I realise that this is sort of a silly question, but I'm sure that every actor in an established role has faced it.  Just how stupid do you have to be to think that the character is the same as the actor?  There was a story that illustrated this in one of the books--a child (old enough to know better) decided to smack Curly on his head with a cane--with the approval of his mother! You do have to wonder about the intelligence of people.....

I don't think I've ever thought of Curly as this "tragic" figure--he liked to live life to the fullest, and whether or not it was the sole cause of his death (I think not) is hard to say. Of course, perhaps he just wasn't "meant" to live as long as his three older brothers.

Sunday
Larry: They’ll hang us for this!
Moe: I know! Let’s cremate him!
Larry: Can’t do that--we ain’t got no cream!

Pilsner Panther

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2005, 12:55:13 PM »
Quote from: kinderscenen link=topic=219.msg1259#msg1259

I don't think I've ever thought of Curly as this "tragic" figure--he liked to live life to the fullest, and whether or not it was the sole cause of his death (I think not) is hard to say. Of course, perhaps he just wasn't "meant" to live as long as his three older brothers.


Well, I don't know what your spiritual or religious background is, kinderscenen, but you're expressing a Hindu or Buddhist point of view here. Curly existed because there had to be a Curly to make us all laugh so hard at his inspired antics, just like there had to be a Moe Howard, a Larry Fine, a Shemp Howard, a Buster Keaton, a Charles Chaplin, a Harold Lloyd, a Stan Laurel and Babe Hardy, the Marx Brothers, a Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, a W.C. Fields, and an Ernie Kovacs.

Never mind what's in those all those old books— the Bible included (even if G.W. Bush and his acolytes tell you that that's what you have to believe in), it's the comedians and the musicians and (some) painters and (some) novelists who really got it down. Life as it is, I mean...

The Stooges are right at the top of the list— who ever thought that their totally off-the-wall submarine bit from 1939 would become reality?

But, it just did. Oh, yes indeed...

 [salame] [stooges]

Not that I want to get too metaphysical here, but wouldn't a universe without the Stooges in it feel incomplete, like it was missing something?

"Who threw those pies?"

« Last Edit: January 17, 2005, 09:27:26 PM by Dunrobin »

Offline Bruckman

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2005, 04:30:28 PM »
I.e., Curly as the "holy goof", as Kerouac would've put it.....

Have to agree w/Rita: there's too much emphasis placed on psychoanalyzing the comedic impulse. I've never bought into the whole concept of the jolly slapstick practitioner using his skills to conceal a broken heart or sense of grievance against an unfair world. Rather, it's their essence to create comedy: I think of Stan Laurel still crafting gags for himself and Babe long after Hardy's demise, just as a way of keeping his own comedy skills honed. Much as I try to attribute certain of Curly's mannerisms to one influence or another, what it often comes down to is: it was just Curly's nature or Platonic essence (I'm an essentialist but not necessarily a Platonist) to do what he did, to woo woo, spin on floors, go "Hmmmm!", etc. What combination of factors coalesced to produce Curly is just too indefinite to sort out, otherwise.

A couple years ago on this site I did a timeline using the shooting dates of the 45-46 Stooge shorts to give some idea of Curly's working schedule the last 2 years he spent as part of the team. In 1946 he did either 7 or 8 shorts back to back between January and the time of his stroke (May), and this after coming off a number of live shows, coping w/a divorce, etc. When I put together the timeline (it was on one of the former threads of this site, no longer extant) I became sadly aware that, in the 6-8 months preceding Curly's stroke he was terribly overworked (filming 8 shorts in a row would be brutal for anyone in great health). I'll muss around a bit and maybe I can reconstruct the research I did then, if Dunrobin promises not to lose the bloody thing again!
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Offline kinderscenen

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2005, 06:36:58 PM »
I.e., Curly as the "holy goof", as Kerouac would've put it.....

Much as I try to attribute certain of Curly's mannerisms to one influence or another, what it often comes down to is: it was just Curly's nature or Platonic essence (I'm an essentialist but not necessarily a Platonist) to do what he did, to woo woo, spin on floors, go "Hmmmm!", etc. What combination of factors coalesced to produce Curly is just too indefinite to sort out, otherwise.

I seem to recall Moe saying something like that in a Mike Douglas interview, although his exact words were "Well, he was a little mentally slow." This was also pointed out by Dolly Sallin (a relative), but she rather took offense at this, feeling that it described someone who was deficient mentally.

Quote
I became sadly aware that, in the 6-8 months preceding Curly's stroke he was terribly overworked (filming 8 shorts in a row would be brutal for anyone in great health). I'll muss around a bit and maybe I can reconstruct the research I did then, if Dunrobin promises not to lose the bloody thing again!
Quote

I imagine that it was worse during that time period--dietary stuff, ease (??!!) of traveling, etc. weren't like they are today. So that was a factor, along with his divorce, and pressure to "tone down" his wild lifestyle may have given him a bit more worry than he needed. (Ah, my rampant speculation rears its ugly head.... :P)

Either being "Curly" was simpler than we're making it, or it was as difficult as portraying Hamlet.  :D
Larry: They’ll hang us for this!
Moe: I know! Let’s cremate him!
Larry: Can’t do that--we ain’t got no cream!

Offline mrhoward

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2005, 11:12:41 AM »
there is some fact that  Shemp replaced Curly on live apperances.  In one of the  Stooge books, there is a poster of a show with Shemp, they are promoted as the original Three Stooges. this was in 1944, there is also mention of an East Side KIds flick that came out that same year. It was at The St.Charles Theater in North Carolina

Offline JoeCobbFan

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2008, 03:03:02 AM »
Curly was the best!

Offline ArPharazon

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2008, 04:06:03 AM »
I've wondered this for a while and I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere, but what are the chances of Curly's and even Larry's strokes being (in part) the result of all the head bonks, however "light" they might actually have been.  Over so many years and maybe hundreds of bonks, could that have contributed to their strokes?

Offline FineBari3

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2008, 08:45:39 AM »
Oh, yes..it has been mentioned. I believe it is mentioned a lot in the book 'The Three Stooges The Triumphs and Tragedies of The Most Popular Comedy Team of All Time by Jeff Forrester, Tom Forrester, Joe Wallison'. 

It is a rather controversial subject, I think, because even the cause Shemp's death has been debated. I do wonder if all of that hitting was the reason for Curly's early demise, but he sure loved to live life hard.  He probably also drank and ate the things you aren't supposed to, at least now you aren't.
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Offline ArPharazon

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2008, 10:31:23 PM »
I wouldn't imagine it could have been the only thing, if it was a contributor.  The smoking, drinking and possibly a predisposition towards strokes are other reasons.
Although, Moe isn't known to have ever had a stroke, is he?
Unfortunately, they didn't know much about health risks of any kind in those days, only 75 or so years ago.  We've come a long way and now everything is bad for you.

Offline metaldams

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2008, 10:43:25 PM »
I know of professional wrestlers, football players and boxers who have suffered from forms of dementia due to several concussions, but then again, I don't think The Three Stooges practiced that level of brutality. 

Hey, I'm know they got hurt at times, and I'm sure the stage act was rougher than the shorts, but Curly supposedly lived a hard life and was usually overweight, and combined with possible genetic factors (if Shemp died of a stroke and not a heart attack), other factors besides Stooging contributed to the man's condition.  As for Larry, he had his strokes in his late 60's and early 70's, just like thousands of other people who never got slapped by Moe.

It's possible the Stooging had some impact on the strokes, but we'll never prove it either way, and I'm more inclined to believe the activities mentioned in the first paragraph are greater risks for brain disease.

Offline ArPharazon

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2008, 02:28:52 AM »
quote from wikpedia:  " In Paul "Mousie" Garner's 1985 biography of the Three Stooges, co-written by Joan Howard Maurer, Shemp's wife Gertrude is quoted as saying that after his mild stroke in 1952, Shemp was prescribed an unknown heart medication despite never being otherwise treated for a heart problem. "

So Shemp did have a stroke, and I think they were hinting that the medication for that might have caused the heart attack.  But like you said, we'll never really know.

Offline BeAStooge

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2008, 08:03:22 AM »
quote from wikpedia:  " In Paul "Mousie" Garner's 1985 biography of the Three Stooges, co-written by Joan Howard Maurer, Shemp's wife Gertrude is quoted as saying that after his mild stroke in 1952, Shemp was prescribed an unknown heart medication despite never being otherwise treated for a heart problem. "

One of several Wikipedia entries that are not true, written by someone who was banned from this site for making a series of fictional posts (including that one), even after repeated warnings.

And for the record, there is no such book.

Offline busybuddy

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2008, 10:03:03 AM »
I think Curly getting sick is a major example of the difference between Columbia and other studios back then. When Lou Costello got sick in the mid-forties, he and Bud were allowed an entire YEAR off at Universal before they went back to make another movie. When Curly got sick, he had to work for about 2-3 years before it finally caught up with him. And at the time, Abbott and Costellos were much more popular then The Three Stooges, so Unviersal probably lost more money losing Costello than Columbia would have had lost if they gave Curly a break.
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Offline metaldams

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2008, 02:51:40 PM »
And at the time, Abbott and Costellos were much more popular then The Three Stooges, so Unviersal probably lost more money losing Costello than Columbia would have had lost if they gave Curly a break.

Yeah, but the poularity of Bud and Lou may have had another line of reasoning, as in they had to protect their long term "investment."  In other words, take the short term loss to preserve the long term gain.

I believe the Stooges had a six - eight month break from making short films during Curly's sickness, like they did every year.  I don't know how that time was spent, but either way, Curly didn't get better.

Offline JazzBill

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Re: When did Curly begin to slip?
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2008, 08:13:34 PM »
For me it's right about the time of Busy Buddies (1944) , where I start to see a difference in Curly. I first notice his speech to be a little slurred. then, as time goes by I notice his actions and appearance change. The 5 shorts that I find almost unbearable to watch because of Curly's ill health are. If A Body Meets A Body, Beer Barrel PoleCats, Monkey Businessmen, Three Loan Wolves and Half-Wits Holiday.
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