Joe Besser was a vaudeville actor known for playing impish, whiny and bratty characters who were easily excitable or upset such as Oswald "Stinky" Davis, the loudmouthed man-child from The Abbott and Costello Show.
Following Shemp Howard's sudden death from a heart attack in 1955, Columbia Pictures chose Joe Besser to replace him as the "third stooge" in the late-1950s. Joe would appear in the final sixteen Stooges shorts. Unfortunately, the character he plays would become unpopular amongst Stooge fans.
Why Moe Should Throw A Pie At His Face
NOTE: This will only focus on the character he portrays in The Three Stooges short films and not the actor himself. Do not write that Joe Besser was rude towards Moe Howard and Larry Fine in real life because the actors got along well in actuality and that false fact was from the 2000 Three Stooges biopic, which has some inaccuracies.
- To write down the first problem, he is the main reason what contributed to the The Three Stooges short film series to jump the shark and go downhill in the late-1950s, due to the various problems as listed below. In fact, he's one of the main reasons the shorts released between 1956-59 weren't as well-received or popular.
- The actor reused his wimpy comic persona he had developed over his career rather than come up with an original personality. As a result, he comes off as incredibly whiny and annoying towards Moe and Larry, especially when the former hits him.
- The actor's contract initially prevented him from receiving any physical abuse from Moe or slapstick in the shorts (you know, one of the defining comedic elements of Stooge humour), which makes him a Karma Houdini as well. This also caused Larry receive most of the abuse from Moe.
- Whenever Moe hits him on the head or he simply gets annoyed in general, he responds by throwing a meltdown, saying the aforementioned "Not soo harrrrrd!" or "You crazy, youuu!" which will most likely get on your nerves fast.
- His whiny, man-child-like persona ultimately contrasted with the slapstick style of the Stooges, making him incredibly unpopular.
- He at least wasn't an imitation of the previous Stooges that came before him.
- Some fans consider him better than the next and final third stooge, "Curly" Joe DeRita, who was pretty bland and only appeared in the six poorly received Stooge feature films (Have Rocket, Will Travel, Snow White and the Three Stooges, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, The Three Stooges in Orbit, The Three Stooges Go Around The World In A Daze, and The Outlaws Is Coming) addition to the forgotten animated show The New Three Stooges and two episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
- Joe Besser left the Three Stooges to care for his sick wife.
- As a result of playing the same kind of character, Joe Besser suffered from what he called "The greatest Hollywood curse of all: typecasting" and struggled to find consistent work after leaving the Three Stooges until he managed to get a major role as Jillson on The Joey Bishop Show, as well as some voiceovers on cartoons.