The Three Stooges performed at Binghamton Capitol Theater in 1950

It was May 1950, and the Triple Cities region was in the midst of the post-World War II growth. The baby boomer generation was increasing each year, and EJ, IBM, GE, Ansco and Link were the major employers in the region.

The era of television had arrived a year before when WNBF-TV went on the air. While the increasing number of television screens in the area was just beginning, the popularity of the “boob tube” would give rise to a number of starts, from Milton Berle to Sid Caesar, and, by the early 1960s, the Three Stooges.

While television might have been a growing form of entertainment in 1950, it was certainly not the only one. Movies were shown across multiple theaters in the region, and some of those theaters also had stages were live shows continued to bring what some would still call vaudeville to the people of the area.

The largest of those theaters in this area was the Capitol Theater on Exchange Street in Binghamton. With its chandeliers, oriental carpeting, gold and gilt furnishings, it oozed class. One might expect a performance by Lawrence Olivier, or Ethel Barrymore might grace the stage and raise up the culture level of the area.

The Capitol Theater in downtown Binghamton.

One might, but in May 1950, you would be wrong. Unless, of course, Olivier also liked to poke his fellow performers in the eye or yell out “nyuk, nyuk.” No, that never would happen.

But it did on May 1, 1950, as a stage show was booked for that Saturday that included Maureen Cannon, a songstress from Broadway; Al Schenk, the Atomic Comic; June and Martin Barrett and their Ballet in Taps act; and Al Mardo and Irene Haye and their dog act. The performance also included music performed by Phil Brito and Square Dance Katy, and local musician Don Gray and the Capitol Theater Orchestra.

The main attraction, however, was Moses Horwitz, Louis Feinberg and Samuel Horwitz. They were better known by their stage names of Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Shemp Howard — the Three Stooges. The act, known for its physical comedy — hitting, poking in the eyes, falling, and many other types of comedy — had already been active as a group for three decades.

The Three Stooges slide down the banister at Binghamton's Capitol Theater in 1950.

Starting in 1922 as Ted Healy and His Stooges, the composition of the group continued to evolve. Healy dropped out, and Shemp Howard (Moe’s brother) stepped away to be replaced by yet another brother, “Curly” Howard. In 1934, the group was put under contract with Columbia Pictures. From that year until 1946, the group filmed over 90 shorts to be played along with main film attractions at theaters across the nation.

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