Today, I'm nostalgic about the 115th anniversary of Larry Fine's birth, after having just celebrated my dad's 95th birthday this past Tuesday.
Forty-four and a half years ago, in April 1973, when Larry Fine was 70 years old and living in the Motion Picture Home, my dad (who was then 50) arrived in Los Angeles on a business trip, and ventured to Woodland Hills to visit Mr. Fine. Back then, very little information was available about the surviving Stooges, as it was a time following the active years of the Three Stooges - but a time before Stroke of Luck, Moe Howard and the Three Stooges, and the dozens of other literary publications tracking the famous trio's history. And it was a time decades before the advent of easy internet access.
Just prior to my dad’s trip, I had learned that Fine was living at the Motion Picture Home and had written him a letter. When Fine answered my letter, I was enthusiastic and surprised – so much so that I couldn’t help wondering if a visit to Fine was a possibility. When my dad told me he’d be traveling to LA, I had to ask if there was any possibility he could try to see Larry. My dad’s response was firm – he would attempt a visit as long as I sent Fine a letter informing him of my dad’s potential visit, and assuming that my dad’s business schedule allowed such a visit.
My next question to my dad was whether he’d be willing to ask Larry a series of questions and record Larry’s responses. My dad would not commit to doing so, but told me to give him a list of questions and a compact tape recorder, in the event that things worked out to do so.
My questions were trivial – nothing deep – ones that were crafted by a fifteen year old fan with minimal insight and minimal knowledge. But to this fifteen year old, the questions were important ones that needed to be answered.
As some of you know, my dad did see Larry during that trip and he did record Larry’s responses to the sophomoric questions I had prepared. What a revelation this was! This April 1973 visit led to an April 1974 visit where my dad and I both spent an afternoon with Fine, and enabled separate visits with Moe Howard, Joe Besser, and Joe DeRita.
In honor of this 115th anniversary of Larry Fine’s birth, and in honor of my dad’s 95th birthday this past week, I am attaching the following three items to this post:
1) The April 1973 audio recording of my dad asking Larry Fine my list of questions;
2) An April 1974 snapshot showing Larry Fine in the foreground and my father in the background; and
3) A photo of my dad, taken this past Tuesday on his 95th birthday.
Long live the Stooges, and long live my dad!