Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Perhaps the most thorough (and least hokey) of the many TV Three Stooges retrospectives, this NBC special not only concentrates on the most popular members of the comic trio -- Jerry "Curly" Howard, Moe Howard, and Larry Fine -- but also provides generous and laudatory screen time to Curly's successors, Shemp Howard, Joe Besser, and Curly Joe DeRita. As the title indicates, the special covers the years from the Stooges' apprenticeship with comedian Ted Healy, their 25-year tenure with the Columbia Pictures short-subject department, their spectacular comeback in the late '50s thanks to TV exposure of their old films, and their "first love," performing before live audiences all over the world. The film clips shown herein are in pristine condition, and many have not been shown publicly for decades, notably the Stooges' guest appearance on the 1955 syndicated TV series The Eddie Cantor Comedy Theatre and Jack Linkletter's interview with Moe Howard and his family on a 1960 episode of the CBS early-morning program On the Go. Also included are interviews with such dyed-in-the-wool Stooge fans as the Farrelly brothers, Saturday Night Live's Tracy Morgan, and Michael Chiklis, who played Curly Howard in 2000 TV biopic. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, The Three Stooges' 75 Anniversary Special was originally slated to air in November 2002, but for obscure reasons was withheld from view for nearly six months; rest assured, however, that it was well worth waiting for.