February 15, 1962
THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES, a spoof of the “muscleman movie” craze of the era, opens on this date. The Three Stooges, veteran comics from the vaudeville circuit with a heavy dose of slapstick in their act, enjoy a career revival after their theatrical shorts from previous decades start showing on television in 1958. Their renewed popularity among baby boomer youngsters gives them a ticket to big screen success in a series of low-budget quickies and cameo appearances into the mid-sixties. This ribbing of the popular sword-and-sandal movies was the first of two commercially successful ’62 releases, their highest-grossing films. THE THREE STOOGES IN ORBIT, paying comic homage to the historic Mercury space flight of astronaut John Glenn in February of 1962, would follow on July 4.
Columbia Pictures, the producer of the Stooges shorts, responded to the surge of popularity for the comics by green lighting a series of inexpensive features (budgeted under a half-million dollars) starring two of the original trio, Moe Howard and Larry Fine, joined for all five films by ‘Curly-Joe’ DeRita. The movies showcased sci-fi and fantasy elements in the storylines, with time travel thrown into the unlikely mix of genres in MEET HERCULES. HAVE ROCKET WILL TRAVEL (1959) and SNOW WHITE AND THE THREE STOOGES (1961) proved commercially viable enough to warrant the quick production of the two ’62 releases. THE THREE STOOGES GO AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAZE (1963) would finish their unexpected and profitable theatrical run.