St. Louis' own Joe Besser saved the Three Stooges. In 1955, third stooge Shemp Howard (who himself had replaced the ailing Curly) had suddenly died of a heart attack and the Three Stooges were once again in crisis. Moe had considered rebooting the series as "The Two Stooges," but Columbia Pictures had another comedian under contract in their short-subject department, and so Joe Besser came aboard for the final sixteen Stooges shorts. (Besser's replacement, Curly Joe DeRita, never made a film short, appearing only in feature-length films, TV shows and cartoons.) Though Joe's contribution has never been held in the same regard as the Stooges he replaced, his prissy persona and catchphrase "Not so haaarrrd!" brought a new dynamic to the team, and his tenure with the Stooges is ripe for re-evaluation. Today from 1 to 4 p.m. members of Besser's family and other fans join together at the AMC Esquire 7 Theater (6706 Clayton Road, Richmond Heights; 314-781-3806) for The Joe Besser Film Festival. The fest includes a selection of Joe's pre-Stooges Columbia shorts, highlights from his Abbott and Costello and Joey Bishop Show TV appearances and the creme de le creme of his work with the Stooges, including the last short the Three Stooges filmed, "Flying Saucer Daffy," which Joe cited as his personal favorite. Admission is $10.
Sun., June 9, 2013