Larry immediately got a taxi to
take him to the Cohan Theatre where Healy was performing. While
backstage Healy found Larry first and signaled to Al Jolson to
push him on stage. There Larry with Healy, Moe, and Shemp did
a full routine.
Larry accepted Healy's offer and
soon Healy and his Stooges style of shenanigans caught on and
they played in sell-out crowds across the country.
In 1927, Healy, Shemp and a gang
of funsters acted on Broadway in A Night In Spain, Moe left the
act to be closer to his family, as his daughter was to be born
that year. While Larry married his former Vaudeville partner,
Mabel Haney. Healy and Shemp despite the loss of Moe and Larry
appeared in J.J. Shubert's Musical Revue.
Larry and Moe returned to join
Healy's act in time for the Broadway revue A Night In Venice.
This was to become a permanent act. The New York Times reported
that Healy's hilarious trio were "three of the frowziest
numbskulls ever assembled." A Night In Venice closed, due
to the onset of the Depression, after 175 performances.
After its closing a scout from
Fox immediately signed Healy, Moe, Larry, and Shemp to star in
Soup to Nuts. Ted's salary to star in Soup to Nuts was a third
less than his usual salary, but was enough at $1250 a week. Out
of this he paid each Stooge $150 a week to star in the film. When
Healy learned of the studio's offer of an exclusive contract to
the stooges, he stormed into the office of the Fox studio head,
Winnie Sheehan, arguing that the contract was invalid without
his approval. In a rage, Ted took the contract from Sheehan's
desk and tore it to shreds.
Moe, Larry, and Shemp soon caught
wind of Healy's double-dealing and left the act immediately to
form one of their own under the name of Howard, Fine, and Howard
and billed as "Three Lost Souls." The three performed on the West
Coast and worked their way back to New York. In 1931, the Stooges
hired Jack Walsh as their straight man and together wreaked havoc
on the stages of the RKO - Keith Theatre Circuit.
This combination was making head-lines.
Critics reported that Walsh complemented the three's broad, physical
style of comedy to perfection. The Stooges' act with Walsh had
many routines from the Healy Days bit an additional bit of nonsense
had them constantly interrupting his singing of "Shine On, Harvest
During this period Healy, wanting
to regroup the Stooges, tried to steal first one Stooge and then
all three of them back, using a number of underhanded methods.
First, he filed a legal suit against the team for promoting themselves
in newspaper ads as "Howard, Fine, and Howard former associates
of Ted Healy in A Night in Venice." Healy claimed the use of his
name, combined with the Stooges' use of his comedy material in
their act, was illegal. But a U.S. District Court ruled in favor
of the Stooges, claiming that Healy had no rights to the material.
The material that Healy filed
suit over was skits taken from portions of the Stooge's performance
a A Night in Venice. However, Moe, always the team's manager,
secured permission from the show's producer, J.J. Shubert, to
use certain pieces of material from the show to incorporate it
into their act. Healy's Irish temper was slow to cool and in frustration
he resorted to threats in a vain attempt to stop the Stooges from
continuing their use of any of his material.
Because of Healy's constant threats,
moe, Larry and Shemp became concerned for their own saftey and
decided to change some of the material, hoping to pacify Ted.
Before one engagment, working at fever pitch, the Stooges in one
evening sketched out about half-dozen new routines. As Larry Fine
recalled: "We worked in between the rirst and second show, and
did a complete turnabout. We worked out an old bit where we were
musicians and faked a riot, breaking instruments over each others'
heads and staging a fight. The audience just loved us, and so
did the manager, who booked us for eight more weeks."
Even with their act revamped,
Shemp continued to fear Healy and became so concerned over what
action the comedian might take next that he stressed his desire
to leave the act. Moe, trying to entice Shemp to stay, agreed
that he and Larry would raise his salary and pay him more than
they were making. According to Moe, Shemp took 36 percent of the
team's salary while he and Larry retained 32 percent apiece. The
trio then divided, using this new formula, the lucrative salary
of $900 a week.