By Ralph D’Agostino
Nearly everyone knows or remembers the movie and television comedians called the THREE STOOGES. The appeal of Moe, Larry, and Curley has spanned from vaudeville days of the 1920s to today’s marathon status on cable TV. The height of their success, however, occurred between 1934-1946, during the economic depression and World War II. Those same years also witnessed the incredible rise in political power of a trio of another sort – the despotic, war-mongers, Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo.
While adult Americans hated the very sight of these enemies – younger ones, like myself, though despising them, saw a hilarious element in their very appearance and physical quirks. Let’s face it, they were unbelievably funny looking. No, that’s too mild – they were goofy, goofier, and goofiest.
•“Moe” Hitler: The most imaginative of fiction writers couldn’t have come up with such a weird character. This “Moe” could have been a solo on “Looney Tunes”. That half-mustache and slicked-down hair of his were objects of parody and lampooning that provided many hours of comic relief during those years.
•“Larry” Mussolini: If ever there was a Number 2, in all uses of that number, it was ‘Il Duce’ – the prancer and poser of strength and leadership. What an actor! If this “Larry” actually desired to convey that he was a reincarnate of the Holy Roman Empire, he convinced me, because that severe expression of his suggested that he just walked out of the men’s room of Rome’s Coliseum. He was eventually hanged by his own people, who finally decided it was better to have the trains run late than to arrive on time at death’s door.
•“Curly” Tojo: A misnomer for sure because this insect of a man was completely bald, though fully mustached, suggesting that he shaved his head as a symbol of strength. He rose to power as a strong advocate of “nationalistic” aims, including a sneak attack on America, of which Pearl Harbor was the eventual target. Not much to laugh about except for his appearance in uniform, dominated by medals and ribbons of various size that completely covered his jacket.
So, there you have it – six men who achieved fame or notoriety, or both, during the same span of time. The “movie” stooges feigned physical pain to each other with their slaps, jabs, and tricks of their trade, always in the pursuit of laughs. Those other stooges, however, without lifting a finger, caused pain, suffering, and death to millions and millions of people. Let’s never forget that