Jewish Entertainment
Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians

Lewis Feinberg
"Larry Fine"

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.

Early life

Larry Fine was born to a Jewish family as Louis Feinberg[2] 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 public.[1]

Acting career

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 abuse.

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 the years.

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.

Personal life

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 circumstances.

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.[3]

On May 30, 1967, Larry Fine's wife, Mabel, died of a sudden heart attack.[3] 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.[4] 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.[3] 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 lengthy illness.

Final acting years and death

Gravesite of Larry Fine.

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.[5]

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.[6] Larry Fine was entombed in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Liberation.[7]

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.[8]

Posthumous fame

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 attendance.

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 Larry Fine."

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,
A&E television show Biography
"Stooge Bios - Larry Fine".
You Must Be This Tall: The Story of Rocky Point Park. Midway Pictures.
Brady, Pat (October 28, 1973). "Recovering From Stroke: It's Easy Life for the Stooge". Los Angeles Times, Valley Edition, Part XI, p. 6.
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.

Further reading

[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).

External links

Larry Fine at the Internet Movie Database
Larry Fine at the Internet Broadway Database
Larry Fine at The Three Stooges Official Website


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