Our conversation with Larry Fine’s grandson Eric Lamond covered more than we could accommodate in the magazine’s “The Three Stooges and Me.” Here’s what else we talked about, including Lamond’s favorite moments with Larry, Stooges favorites and the trio’s ad-libbing abilities:
The Stooges’ Most Requested Act
“The maharaja scene [from Three Little Pirates]. No matter who booked them on a TV show, invariably, they were asked to do the maharaja bit.” It was, Lamond says, because the boys “were in costume, and it had so many pieces of business involved with it, and crazy dialogue.”
The Boys and Joe DiMaggio
Lamond says he once remarked to Joe DeRita, who played Curly Joe, how hard the boys worked. DeRita called it the “Joe DiMaggio theory.” Baseball player DiMaggio, Lamond says, was “very precise in how he wore his uniform and how hard he played every game, whether they were winning or getting blown out.” Asked about that, DiMaggio reportedly replied, “You have to remember that when I’m going out to the batter’s box or out to centerfield, I know that there are people sitting in the stands. This is the only time they’ll ever see me play, and they deserve to see my absolute best.”
“And that’s the same attitude the guys had,” Lamond says. “Whatever they were doing — a live performance, filming a short, whatever — ‘This may be the only time some people ever see us and what we do. We need to be the best we can be.’ That kind of motivated their whole work ethic.”
Besides excelling in slapstick and shtick, the trio was adept at coming up with lines on the spot. “You look at the scripts and all their dialogue had was “They do their stuff” and that was it, and they’d wing the scene.” Lamond says. “They knew what the setup was, the premise and they knew they had certain things they had to do in the next few minutes. And they did, dialogue-wise and shtick-wise.”
He offers a bit of advice for Stooges fans: Ignore “the mayhem on the screen. Listen to the dialogue. They had a lot of good writers at Columbia [Studios] when they did the shorts and the films. [And] the guys ad-libbed a lot. If you really pay attention to the dialogue, some of the throwaway lines are just devastating.”
Equally devastating was when the ad-libbing didn’t stop. Lamond, who worked with the boys, relates one such time.
The boys were four to five weeks into a “really aggressive shooting schedule,” he recalls, when “Norman [the producer] says, ‘Cut!’ The guys don’t stop. Now they start ad-libbing, singing these rather risqué little ditties they knew, and dancing. It took about five minutes, the crew is just destroyed. Norman and Ed Bernds, who was producing the stuff, looked at each other and said, ‘Well, screw it. This day is done.’”
His Favorite Stooges Episode
With the “ridiculous amount of work they put on film,” is there one work that stands out for Lamond? “What I like is different than what the average fan would,” he says, because he considers all elements, such as the writing, the dialogue, the supporting cast. But he eventually says, “I probably like Disorder in the Court most,” which, as it happens, is also a fan favorite.
Lamond is also partial to shorts that starred Shemp and Sylvia Lewis. “She was a phenomenal dancer. The interaction between her and the boys was just terrific,” Lamond says.
His Favorite Memories of Larry
“My dad was a phenomenal golfer,” Lamond says. “He had played professional golf on the West Coast tour in the early ’50s. After his career in radio and TV started moving, he gave up the professional golf. He was a scratch golfer all his life. He always told Larry that he should play golf. Larry finally does. He was one of the worst golfers in the world but he loved it.”
Lamond recounts a time the three of them played at the DeBell Golf Club in Burbank. Work was being done on a roadway next to one of the holes. Nearby is a big piece of equipment, about 8 feet tall, with big tires. “Larry hits this shot this way. It bounces off the tire, way up in the air and ends up down close to the green. He turns around and asks, ‘What do you think of that?’ We all just started just dying laughing. This god-awful horrible shot and ‘What do you think of that?’! That’s my grandfather.”
Lamond also fondly recalls a more tender scene: “My older son was born after Larry had his stroke. The first time Larry held my son in his arms was an unforgettable moment. That was special.”
How Larry Made a Drink
“Larry quit drinking from way back,” Lamond says. His grandfather, “especially when [his wife] Mabel was still alive, did a lot of socializing, a lot of parties and stuff.” But guests had to be careful when he poured them a drink. “The way Larry would make a drink would be to put some ice cubes in an 8-ounce glass and fill it up with booze. Here you go! Really? Don’t get it around any open flame! Larry had no clue. There was 7 ounces of alcohol in there! He was funny that way.”