In 1934, Columbia Pictures put a short film out titled “Three Little Pigskins.” The film, which was 20 minutes long, was one of the 190 films that Columbia Pictures backed starring The Three Stooges. “The Little Pigskins” was shot in Boulder City. Local resident Shirl Naegle was able to provide me with a publicity still from the film taken outside of what is now Milo’s Cellar.
The plot of the short movie revolves around Boulder City’s athletic elite. Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard are mistaken as “The Three Horsemen of Boulder Dam,” who are famous football players. The mistake is made by a gangster, who is led to think the three men advertising a Boulder Dam football game are really the famous players and offers them a lot of money to rig the game. The comedic threesome can’t help but take the offer, and the film’s antics ensue.
“Three Little Pigskins” is slapstick comedy, but the film brought a lot of attention to the Boulder Dam (as it was known as and named at the time) and our wonderful city, too.
Another tie to this film is a guest appearance by Lucille Ball, mother of Desi Arnaz Jr., who owns the historic Boulder Theatre. And while the fact that an early Three Stooges short was filmed in our city, the personal lives of all six Stooges — yes, there were six — is even more fascinating.
Moe Howard married Harry Houdini’s cousin Helen Schonberger. Shemp Howard (Moe’s brother and one of the original Stooges) had an unreasonable fear of dogs and water. He died of a massive heart attack while lighting a cigar in a taxicab.
Larry Fine was a Russian immigrant who was a professional boxer and even better violinist. He also was a notorious gambler. Curly Howard was a notorious introvert who died in Baldy View Sanitarium in San Gabriel, California.
Joe Besser spent a stint of his preteen years in a corrective reformative school in St. Louis before appearing in the 1950s as one of the Abbott and Costello regulars. “Curly” Joe DeRita was born on this day, July 12, in 1909. The DeRita Sisters and Junior, a California-based punk band, is named after Joe DeRita.
Each one of the six Stooges, who were known as The Three Stooges, had their quirks, troubles and successes.
For my Throwback Thursday not only do I recommend “Three Little Pigskins” as a digital download, but also the book “The Three Stooges: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Most Popular Comedy Team of All Time” by authors Jeff and Tom Forrester. This book is 200 pages, exposing one-time secrets and more.
“Three Little Pigskins” is a wonderful expression of how Boulder City looks on film. The short features yet another major tie our community has to Hollywood, leaving me pondering if another major motion comedy picture could be in the works.
Tanya Vece is an entertainment and music writer who resides and volunteers in Boulder City. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @hollywoodwriter.