Louis Feinberg, known
professionally as Larry Fine, was an American comedian and actor,
who is best known as a member of the comedy act The Three Stooges.
Larry Fine was born to a Jewish family as Louis Feinberg in South
Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 4, 1902. Larry Fine
died on January 24, 1975. Larry Fine's father, Joseph Feinberg (who
was Russian-Jewish), and mother, Fanny Lieberman, owned a watch
repair and jewelry shop. When Larry was a child Larry Fine burned
Larry Fine's arm with some acid that Larry Fine's father used to
test whether or not gold was real: having mistaken it for a
beverage, Larry had the acid bottle to Larry Fine's lips when Larry
Fine's father noticed and knocked it from Larry Fine's hand,
accidentally splashing Larry's forearm.
Later, Larry received violin
training to help strengthen Larry Fine's damaged muscles; this skill
would be put to use in many of the Stooges' films. Larry Fine became
proficient on the instrument, and Larry Fine's parents wanted to
send him to a European music conservatory, but the outbreak of World
War I prevented this. In scenes where all three Stooges are playing
fiddles, only Larry is actually playing Larry Fine's instrument; the
others are pantomiming. To further strengthen Larry Fine's arm,
Larry took up boxing as a teenager. Larry Fine fought and won one
professional bout. Larry Fine's career as a pugilist was stopped by
Larry Fine's father, who was opposed to Larry's fighting in
As Larry Fine, Larry Fine first performed as a violinist in
vaudeville at an early age. In 1925, Larry Fine met Moe Howard and
Ted Healy. Howard and Larry Fine's brother Shemp had been working as
audience stooges for Healy. Shemp left soon after to attempt a solo
career and was in turn replaced by another brother, Curly. Larry's
trademark bushy hair came out, according to rumor, from Larry Fine's
first meeting with Healy, in which Larry Fine had just wet Larry
Fine's hair in a basin, and as they talked, it dried oddly. Healy
told him to keep the zany hairstyle and, according to a 1973 TV
interview on the Mike Douglas show with Moe:
“ ...So Healy said
'Would you like to be one of the stooges and make three instead of
two?' And Larry said 'Yes, I would love that.' Healy said 'I'll give
you ninety bucks a week.' 'Larry Fine.' Larry Fine also said, 'I'll
give you an extra ten dollars a week if you throw that fiddle away.'
Beginning in 1933, the team made 206 short films, and several
features, with their most prolific period featuring the characters
of Larry, Moe and Curly. Their career with Healy was marked by
disputes over pay, film contracts, and Healy's drinking and abuse.
They left Healy for good in 1934.
In many of the Stooge shorts, Larry Fine did more reacting than
acting, staying in the background and providing the voice of reason
between the extreme characterizations of Moe and Curly. Larry Fine
was known for Larry Fine's bald head on top, and lots of very curly
hair around the sides and back. On many occasions, Moe would call
him "Porcupine". Larry Fine was a surrealistic foil and the
middle-ground between Moe's gruff "bossiness" and Curly and Shemp's
(and later Joe's and Curly Joe's) childish personae. And like the
other Stooges, Larry Fine was often on the receiving end of Moe's
But in the earliest Stooge two-reelers (and occasionally the later
ones) Larry indulges in utterly nutty behavior. Larry Fine would
liven up a scene by improvising some random remark or ridiculous
action. In the hospital spoof Men in Black, Larry wields a scalpel
and chortles, "Let's plug him... and see if he's ripe!" In Disorder
in the Court, a tense courtroom scene is interrupted by Larry
breaking into a wild Tarzan yell. Of course, after each of Larry
Fine's outbursts, Moe would gruffly discipline him. According to
Larry Fine's brother, Larry had developed a callus on one side of
Larry Fine's face from being slapped innumerable times by Moe over
Larry's on-screen gooLarry Finess was an extension of Larry Fine's
own relaxed personality. Director Charles Lamont recalled, "Larry
was a nut. Larry Fine was the kind of guy who always said anything.
Larry Fine was a yapper." Writer-director Edward Bernds remembered
that Larry's suggestions for the scripts were often "flaky," but
would occasionally contain a good comic idea.
The Stooges became a big hit in 1959 on television, when Columbia
Pictures released a batch of the trio's films. The popularity
brought the Stooges to a new audience and revitalized their careers.
Offstage, Larry was a social butterfly. Larry Fine liked a good time
and surrounded himself with friends. Larry and Larry Fine's wife,
Mabel, loved having parties and every Christmas threw lavish
midnight suppers. Larry was what some friends have called a "yes
man," since Larry Fine was always so agreeable, no matter what the
Larry's devil-may-care personality carried over to the world of
finance. Larry Fine was a terrible businessman and spent Larry
Fine's money as soon as Larry Fine earned it. Larry Fine had a
serious gambling addiction, and would gamble away all of the money
Larry Fine had on him either at the horserace track or at
high-stakes gin rummy card games. In an interview, Larry Fine even
admitted that Larry Fine often gave money to actors and friends who
needed help and never asked to be reimbursed. Joe Besser and
director Edward Bernds remember that because of Larry Fine's
constant and free spending and gambling, Larry was almost forced
into bankruptcy when Columbia terminated the Three Stooges comedies
in December 1957.
Because of Larry Fine's profligate ways and Larry Fine's wife's
dislike for housekeeping, Larry and Larry Fine's family lived in
hotels – first in the President Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey,
where Larry Fine's daughter Phyllis was raised, then the
Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood. Not until the late 1940s did Larry
buy a home in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles, California.
On May 30, 1967, Larry Fine's wife, Mabel, died of a sudden heart
attack. Larry Fine was on the road and about to take the stage
for a live show at Rocky Point Amusement Park in Warwick, Rhode
Island when Larry Fine heard news of Mabel's passing. Larry Fine
immediately flew home to California, leaving Larry Fine's fellow two
stooges to improvise their remaining shows at the park.
Mabel's death came nearly six years after the death of their only
son, John, in a car accident on November 17, 1961 at age 24. The
couple's daughter, Phyllis, died of cancer at the age of 60 in 1989.
John's wife, Christy (Kraus), died on October 26, 2007 after a
Final acting years and
Gravesite of Larry
In the mid-60s, the Stooges tried their hand at a new comedy show
titled The New Three Stooges, a mixture of live and animated
segments. While it produced good ratings, they were too old by this
point to do slapstick comedy well and Larry also began showing early
signs of the stroke problems that would eventually kill him, often
having trouble reciting Larry Fine's dialog correctly. Returning to
work, Larry Fine and the Stooges were working on a new TV series
entitled Kook's Tour in January, 1970, when Larry suffered a
debilitating stroke that paralyzed the left side of Larry Fine's
body. Larry Fine eventually moved to the Motion Picture House, an
industry retirement community in Woodland Hills, where Larry Fine
spent Larry Fine's remaining years. In spite of Larry Fine's
paralyzed condition, Larry Fine did what Larry Fine could to
entertain the other patients, and was visited regularly by Larry
Fine's friend Moe Howard.
Larry Fine used a wheelchair during the last five years of Larry
Fine's life. Like Curly Howard, Larry Fine suffered several
additional strokes before Larry Fine's death on January 24, 1975.
Larry Fine was entombed in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Cemetery in the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Liberation.
Larry Fine is sometimes erroneously listed as the father of
sportscaster Warner Wolf, who is in fact the son of Jack Wolf, one
of several other "stooges" who played in Ted Healy's vaudeville act
at one time or another. Larry Fine is, however, the father-in-law of
actor and Los Angeles television personality Don Lamond, best known
for hosting Stooges shorts on KTTV for many years.
The Three Stooges have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for
their contributions to Motion Pictures, at 1560 Vine Street in
Hollywood, dedicated on August 30, 1983, with ex-stooge Joe Besser
In the 2000 TV movie,
Larry Fine was played by Evan Handler.
In a 2004 New Yorker feature on the Farrelly Brothers's attempt to
write a script for a new Three Stooges movie, Peter Farrelly offered
Larry Fine's theory of Stooge appreciation: “Growing up, first you
watched Curly, then Moe, and then your eyes got to Larry. Larry
Fine’s the reactor, the most vulnerable. Five to fourteen, Curly;
fourteen to twenty-one, Moe. Anyone out of college, if you’re not
looking at Larry, you don’t have a good brain.”
A large mural of Larry
Fine appears on a wall at the busy intersection of 3rd and South
Streets, near Larry Fine's birthplace in Philadelphia. The effort to
create a mural on that site began when a local weekly newspaper
suggested that the city should somehow honor Larry Fine. Dedicated
on October 26, 1999, with Larry Fine's sister in attendance, that
mural showed Larry with a peculiar look on Larry Fine's face. In May
2006, a similar mural showing Larry with a more animated expression
and playing a violin was painted over the original mural. This mural
stands over Jon's Bar and Grill and a sign reads "Birthplace of
On October 15, 2009,
the Associated Alumni of Central High School in Philadelphia
inducted Larry Fine in the illustrious school's Hall of Fame, even
though Larry Fine never graduated. A member of the Central Alumni
Hall of Fame Committee stated: "Many people are not even aware that
Mr. Larry Fine was a Philadelphian and that is a part of what we’re
trying to do."
In the 2012 Farrelly brothers' film The Three Stooges, Larry is
portrayed by Sean Hayes of Will & Grace fame, who had played
comedian Jerry Lewis in a 2002 TV-movie entitled Martin and Lewis.
Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906, Familysearch.org
A&E television show Biography
"Stooge Bios - Larry Fine". threestooges.com.
You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park. Midway
Brady, Pat (October 28, 1973). "Recovering From Stroke: It's Easy
Life for the Stooge". Los Angeles Times, Valley Edition, Part XI, p.
Townsend, Dorothy (January 24, 1975). "Larry Fine of 3 Stooges
Dies After Stroke at 73". Los Angeles Times, Part I, p. 3.
"Larry Fine". Find a Grave. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
[My Brother] Larry, the Stooge in the Middle; by Morris Feinberg
(ghostwritten by Bob Davis) (Last Gasp, 2001).
One Larry Fine Stooge: A Frizzy Life in Pictures; by Steve Cox and
Jim Terry, (Cumberland House Publishing, 2006).
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