Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Three Stooges: Wreck The Halls With Boughs Of Holly

You can’t say that I didn’t warn you about this, but on July 27 during my 300th post I stated that I might just feature this song for Christmas. “Wreck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” was my very first record and I received it with my Mickey Mouse turntable in 1961.

 It was a 78 RPM release and was the first of the few I owned during a period when 78s were being replaced by 45s and Long Playing albums. By 1961, they were already anachronistic in nature.

The Three Stooges were wildly popular in the Pittsburgh area being featured daily on WTAE-TV4’s Paul Shannon’s Adventure Time. Because Shannon was one of several TV personalities who helped to reinvigorate their careers, he was given the part of Wild Bill Hickok in the move “The Outlaws is Coming.”

At age six, I was already a Three Stooges fan and “Wreck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” backed with “Jingle Bells” was an instant favorite of this first grader. The song featured the Three Stooges in their final decade of performance featuring the final performing lineup of Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curly Joe DeRita.

It was this fourth group of Stooges that produced the majority of the full length movies made by the trio. Their films included “Have Rocket Will Travel,” “The Three Stooges Meet Hercules,” and “The Three Stooges in Orbit.” They also appeared in a cast of comedic thousands in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” During this period, the Stooges also voiced the animated “The New Three Stooges” series which aired in 1965 and 1966.

There were officially six Stooges: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard (who was with the trio twice), Curly Howard, Joe Besser, and Curly Joe DeRita. Shemp (Samuel), Moe (Moses), and Curly (Jerome) were three of five brothers named Horowitz. As many had done in the early days of film entertainment, the trio adopted an Anglicized surname (Howard) for publicity purposes.

When Larry became ill and unable to perform, plans were made to add Emil Sitka as his replacement named Harry. Sitka was a supporting cast member to the Stooges in their shorts and full length features. His most memorable role was in the short “Brideless Groom” where he plays the Justice of the Peace J.M. Benton where he repeats the line “Hold hands you love birds.” Due to the death of Moe in 1975, Sitka’s official role as a member of the Stooges never came to fruition.

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