One Fine Stooge – Larry Fine’s Frizzy Life in Pictures – By James L. Neibaur

Book written by Steve Cox and Jim Terry (Cumberland Press)

 Back in the early 1970s, Larry Fine was the first stooge to come out with a biography. Some interesting photos were placed in a text that was rife with errors, both grammatical and historical. Few copies sold, it quietly left the market, and is now a bizarre and costly collector’s item. Larry remained very unhappy with the project, and until his death in 1975, would gather material for a proposed new autobiography.

Film and television historian Steve Cox gained access to this material thru co-author Jim Terry, and for the past several years they worked to produce perhaps the definitive book on any of the Stooges’ lives.

One Fine Stooge is indeed mostly about the quietly endearing man in the middle, but it includes a wealth of information about the Stooges and their careers on stage, in films, and on television not found in other biographies, including Moe Howard’s 1977 autobiography, the rather ghastly biography of Curly published in the 1980s (which has a Foreword by Michael Jackson — a real portent for the bizarre psycho babble that fills the rest of the text), and Joe Besser’s thoughtful autobiography from that same period. This latest look at the Stooges is, quite frankly, the best biographical piece on them yet.

Rare photos (including a couple of interesting color shots from the Shemp years), are now placed in a text that is enlightening, informative, and revealing. Even the staunchest stoogephiles will be pleased with such information as the fact that Shemp actually went on stage in place of Curly for many dates as early as 1945 before officially replacing him in 1946, or that two of the most reviled Stooges comedies (Cuckoo on a Choo Choo and Sweet and Hot) were among Larry’s favorites. It was disturbing, albeit fascinating, to read Larry’s personal feelings about his partners, his troubled marriage to an alcoholic and abusive spouse, and the death of his son.

It is amazing to read quotes from Larry such as, "In the early days Moe was an awful coward…. If theater managers wanted to fight, they’d throw me at ’em. I didn’t take shit from anybody!"

And–

"At first Curly was very sensitive and embarrassed about his crew cut hair. He would never take his cap off; however as soon as he got popular in movies, he was proud of his appearance and wouldn’t keep his cap on so everyone would immediately recognize him."

Recollections from celebrities from Frankie Avalon, to Bob Saget, to Penn Jillette add another interesting dimension.

One Fine Stooge is the perfect book on the trio. It contains a wealth of rare photos, the general information for fans who don’t already know the team’s history, and fascinating tidbits for those of us who have been Stoogephiles for decades. It has our most passionate recommendation.