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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stooging - 2009

Submitted for your approval: a convention in progress on a sunny Saturday morning at a suburban hotel. People mill around the lobby, some by a registration table, others knotted by one of the two rooms being used for the event. One room, filled with merchandise and souvenirs, is crowded with buyers, browsers, and others queuing up to meet one of several special guests of the convention. Suddenly, two uniformed men run through the lobby and into the dealer room. No one can see who they are chasing, because they are chasing no one. Actually, the uniformed cops are the pursued, and the pursuer in this case happens to be a gorilla wielding a sub machine gun!

The crowd’s reaction to this scene is remarkable: some smile, some laugh and others take pictures of the chase. Otherwise, people go about their business as the two faux cops are chased back into the lobby. The attendees see nothing unusual about this mayhem, since the two “cops” resemble comic icons Moe Howard and Larry Fine. Yes, folks, the annual convention honoring the life and work of The Three Stooges has officially begun.

This convention — held every year in Fort Washington, PA - includes film screenings, guest speakers, memorabilia sales, a dinner, an auction, and an open house at the nearby Stoogeum ( Mostly, the convention gives Stooge fans from all over the country the chance to meet other Stooge fans and celebrate everything Stooge related.

The deal room intrigued me the most of all of the activities. There were Stooge books for sale from biographies to screenplays. The shorts were available on all formats (8mm silent, 8mm sound, 16mm, VHS, DVD), and anything with the Stooges likenesses from clothing to commemorative plates could be purchased. My favorite item this year, which unfortunately I didn’t buy, was a shirt featuring Shemp on the front with the caption “Legalize Shemp”!

One special guest this year worked with the team on one of their features, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules. The film’s leading man, Quinn Redeker, told as much as he could remember about the filming, and apologized for not remembering more of the wonderful show business stories he heard from the Stooges. One stood out from the rest: once, Moe told him, their act was so bad that Ted Healy and the team had to hold back an audience in Texas with real guns, while the scenery was removed and transported to the railroad station. Ah, sweet vaudeville!

Redeker tried his best to stay on topic, even when someone asked him about his experiences co-writing the story for a film that is considered one of the top ten greatest films ever made. He explained that he wrote 21 versions of the story about a man who plays Russian roulette for a living. Other than this tidbit of information, he didn’t seem interested in discussing the film, The Deerhunter, any further, and quickly returned to the subject of the Stooges.

Another special guest was the other leading male from the cast of The Three Stooges Meet Hercules – Samson Burke. Once a professional wrestler who later ran a chain of gyms, Burke was overwhelmed by all of the adoration he received from the Stooge fans. He and Redeker shared a few memories about working on the film, but otherwise they both expressed their gratitude at all of the attention they were getting on this weekend.

Similar sentiments of awe were expressed by Curly Howard's grandsons, Darren and Bradley Server. Bradley became an actor, a career decision he claims he made after seeing Zero Mostel perform in Fiddler on the Roof. At the time he didn’t even know about his famous grandfather, but his grandmother gave him as many details about him as she could remember.

The grandsons announced that they would start a website for Stooge fans called “Grandstooges” ( As the applause of this news subsided, they asked for suggestions for website content, since at this point it was only two pages long.

As usual, a grand time was had by all — fans, guests, and gun-toting gorillas alike.


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