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Saluting the Stooges

Visitors to the Stoogeum in Montgomery County get to enjoy the Three Stooges experience as soon as they open the door.

“Hello, hello, hello . . . hello!” is the famed Stooges greeting that fans hear.

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The Stoogeum opened in 2004 in an office park in Ambler. It is billed as the world’s first and only museum of Three Stooges memorabilia.

The curator/director is Gary Lassin, whose wife, Robin, is the granddaughter of Stooge Larry Fine’s brother.

Lassin also is president of the Three Stooges Fan Club. Among other activities, members get together for an annual meeting at the Stoogeum. The membership list includes Stooge relatives and supporting actors, along with impersonators and devoted fans.

In all, the Three Stooges entertained American audiences from 1922–75. There were eight Stooges over the years, but the most famous were Larry and brothers Moe, Shemp and Curly.

The group’s best-known works were its 190 short-subject films. Typically, the trio would be hired for various jobs, with disastrous results.

Moe was the boss of the trio. The mop-topped actor would call his fellow Stooges names, poke them in the eyes and whack them in the head.

Curly, who had a round, shaved head, was the popular one with fans, who liked his boyish antics.

Larry, with googly eyes and hair resembling a Brillo pad, was part of the group for almost 50 years.

He was born Louis Feinberg on Oct. 5, 1902, in Philadelphia, and he lived near Third and South streets. He used the name Larry Fine in film.

A lesser-known Stooge, “Curly Joe” DeRita, was also born in Philadelphia.

Shemp was the oldest of five boys of Solomon and Jennie Horwitz, of Brooklyn.

The Stoogeum features a 1902 family portrait of the parents and sons Samuel (Shemp), Moses (Moe), Irving and Jack. Jerome (Curly) was born in 1913.

The portrait is one of about 3,500 items on display at the 10,000-square-foot Stoogeum.

Fans can find favorite pieces on three floors.

Overall, Lassin has about 100,000 items, some of which are rotated onto displays. Highlights of the tour include interactive displays, television videos of shows and an 85-seat theater.

The three interactive screens include the history and biographies of the Stooges. To begin, just poke the picture of Curly in the eyes.

No chronicling of the Stooges would be complete without a picture of Moe grabbing Curly by the throat and Larry by the hair and calling them “knuckleheads.” There’s also an etching of Moe using Curly’s head as a baseball tee.

The Stooges were popular among other entertainers of the era, and actor Stanley Livingston (who played Chip Douglas on the TV series My Three Sons) designed a stained-glass door featuring the images of Moe, Larry and Curly.

In some of their feature-length films, the Stooges shared the screen with some big-name actors. There’s a movie poster promoting Three Little Pigskins, which starred Lucille Ball, and actors’ chairs with the names of Moe, Larry and Curly.

Longtime fans of the Three Stooges and those not as familiar with the legendary comedy team can walk down “Numskull Lane” this Saturday for the full experience. ••

Hey Moe!

The Stoogeum is at 904 Sheble Lane in Ambler. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the following five dates in 2011: This Saturday, Sept. 3; Oct. 1; Nov. 25–26; and Dec. 18.

There is no admission charge, but donations are accepted. The Stoogeum is wheelchair accessible. Photography is prohibited.

For information, call 267–468–0810 or visit www.stoogeum.com

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