Jeff Smith 2:30 p.m., June 26
Stooge Larry Fine on Performing During the First Super Bowl Half-Time Show
Taking a break from Remembrance of Things Past, I turn to the Qur'an of Stoogedom, Larry Fine's autobiography, Stroke of Luck (as told to James Carone), for my nightly dollop of literary enlightenment. The following photograph and accompanying text appears on page 41,144:
"We made a boat-load of money when the Columbia shorts were sold to television in the '50's. Moe got a call from Fred Friendly over at CBS asking if the Stooges wanted to perform during the half-time show for something called the Super Bowl. Pudd'nhead Joe thought it was an invitation to put in a personal appearance at the opening of a new septic tank store, but Moe said it was a football game. What do I know from football? A bunch of burly hot dogs chasing a ball up and down a field is too violent for me. I prefer playing the ponies.
"The knuckleheads in the audience went wild as The Stooges took to the field. We killed! After our classic 'Niagara Falls' and 'Ah-Ha! Ma-Ha!' routines we broke into a toe-tapping rendition of 'We're Coming to Your House.' During the third chorus, I noticed some thick-necked Bronco Nagurski talking to my Mabel in the stands. He must have thought she was an eligible receiver, because by the looks of things, a football wasn't the only inflated orb he was making a pass at. I shook my fist and shouted, 'I'm warning you! Stop trying to steal my wife, you horse thief.'
"The crowd thought it was part of the act, but I wasn't joking. Blinded by jealousy -- my Mabel is a looker, and can she cook -- I didn't realize the camera was on me when I flipped the pigskin-palooka the 'Italian salute.' Hoo-boy, did I get in Dutch with the top brass at CBS. Not only did I have to pay a fine of $42.50, which was a lot of money in those days, the network banned me from appearing on 'Family Affair.' I'd like to think that had I landed the role of 'Uncle Bill,' poor misguided Buffy would still be alive to this day."
Mr. Fine was no doubt inspired by fellow Stooge, Curly Howard who, during the 1936 Olympics, tall-fingered Hitler after the Nazi snubber refused to recognize Jesse Owens.
When it comes to comedy, Larry Fine is never M.I.A. We all owe him everything.
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