Stooges That Never Were is a timeline that explores many things that almost happens in the careers or lifes of the comedy team Three Stooges. Unlike my first timeline, Cherry, Plum, and Chrysanthemum, that trying to compress many points of divergence into one timeline, Stooges That Never Were will going into the similar ways like Choose Your Own Alternate History! where one divergence can lead to a different chain of events.
The articles that belong to one sub-timeline should be named like this:
- Moe Howard (Stooges That Never Were: Alpha)
- Moe Howard (Stooges That Never Were: Beta)
"Alpha" indicated the name of first sub-timeline, "Beta" the name of second sub-timeline, "Gamma" for the third timeline, and so forth.
Scenario I (Timeline Alpha)
- The Stooges signing a contract with Universal Pictures, instead of Columbia Pictures, just shortly after their part their ways with Ted Healy by leaving MGM in 1934.
Scenario II (Timeline Beta)
- Mantan Moreland joining the team as new "third stooge" instead of Joe Besser in 1958.
Scenario III (Timeline Gamma)
- Curly Howard recovers from his stroke in 1950s and returning to the team.
Scenario IV (Timeline Delta)
- Joe Besser deciding to stay with Moe Howard and Larry Fine after the contract with Columbia Pictures finally making its end in 1958.
The Three Stooges was initially started in 1921 from a roughhouse vaudeville act of Ted Healy and his childhood friend, Harry Howard. In the act, Healy as the lead comedian would attempt to sing or tell jokes while Howard acted as his stooge would interrupting him on stage by ripped Healy’s trousers off at the end of act. Harry Howard later known by his first name, “Moe.” One day in 1923, Moe spotted his older brother Shemp watching the act and yelled at him from the stage. Quick-witted Shemp yelled right back and then the two heckled each other to a large positive response from the audience. After finished his heckling, Shemp walked onto the stage, joining Healy and Moe in the act. Healy then hired Shemp as a permanent part of the act.
A violinist-comedian, Larry Fine, was added to the act by Healy in 1925. However, all of Healy’s stooges (Moe, Shemp, and Larry) were never appeared together in three at a time before 1929. It was in the successful 1929 Broadway revue, A Night in Venice, Healy teamed the Howard brothers and Fine for the first time. On stage, Healy would perform while his three noisy stooges would get in his way. Healy would retaliate with physical and verbal abuse. The success of the revue led Healy and his Stooges made their first movie, Soup to Nuts in 1930 for Fox Film Corporation (later 20th Century Fox).
The film was not a critical success, but the Stooges' performances were singled out as memorable, leading the studio to offer the trio a contract minus Healy. Healy who not wanted his Stooges left, tried to nix the offer. Enraged, Howard, Fine and Howard then briefly left Healy and formed their own act, “Three Lost Souls”, which quickly took off with a tour of the theatre circuit with Jack Walsh as their straight-man. Moe is now acting as the trio’s business manager and continued to do so until his death in 1975. After Healy and the Stooges reached an agreement in 1932, the trio re-joined the act. However, Shemp quit the act shortly thereafter. Shemp later had a very successful film career and performed with such comic greats as W. C. Fields and the comedy team Abbott and Costello, who would reportedly trim his scene-stealing material.
With Shemp gone, Healy, Howard, and Fine needed someone to fill the space left by Shemp in the act. Moe then suggested his other brother, the youngest Jerry Howard. Jerry, however, with his long chestnut red locks and a handlebar mustache, did not look funny for Healy.