Grave Spotlight

In a way, cemeteries are like libraries. They contain the final resting places of thousands of people, each with their own separate and unique story. Some of these people are famous, and their stories are well known. Most are not, but that doesn't make their life any less interesting or their stories any less worthy of being told and remembered.

Periodically, we'll spotlight a different Los Angeles-area grave. Every person has a story, and we will use this space to tell their story, through their final resting place.

After your tour of the virtual cemetery, don't forget to visit the official store (or the brand new downtown location) on your way out and pick up a souvenir or two. Thanks!

Larry Fine

(Oct. 5, 1902 - Jan. 24, 1975)

Aug. 30, 2009 -- The New York Post is reporting this week that Michael Jackson won't be buried in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn in Glendale, as the Jackson family spokeman has stated, but in the cemetery's Freedom Mausoleum. The change seems surprising, given the high level of security and limited access at the Great Mausoleum. In contract, the aptly named Freedom Mausoleum is open to the public, with no guards and no restricted-access areas.

Why the Freedom Mausoleum? Because wild-haired Larry Fine of the Three Stooges is buried there. "The family believed this is what Michael would have wanted," a Jackson family friend said, according to the Post.

Though the Stooges are remembered primarily for their slapstick anarchy and cartoon violence, true Stooge-ophiles generally agree that Fine was the most talented actor of the group, and his performances were the most interesting to watch. In a article in the New Yorker in 2004 on the Farrelly Brothers' attempt to write a script for a new Three Stooges movie, writer/director Peter Farrelly analyzed the progression of Stooge fans: "Growing up, first you watched Curly, then Moe, and then your eyes got to Larry. He's the reactor, the most vulnerable. Five to 14, Curly; 14 to 21, Moe. Anyone out of college, if you're not looking at Larry, you don't have a good brain."

Born Andrew Louis Feinberg in Philadelphia, Fine started performing at an early age, dancing for relatives when he was just 2 years old. When Fine's arm was severely burned with acid when he was a child, the doctor recommended violin lessons as therapy for the damaged muscles. Although Fine eventually became an accomplished violinist and learned to play other instruments -- he later occasionally played in the Three Stooges films -- he still had dreams of becoming a comedian. Through his teen years, Fine played the violin in local amateur contests, and also earned money as a boxer, winning his only professional fight.

In 1921, Fine landed a job with a small entertainment troupe, playing the violin, dancing and telling jokes. Also on the bill were Mabel and Loretta Haney, two sisters who joined with Fine in a comedy act called "The Haney Sisters and Fine." The trio performed together in vaudeville theaters across the United States and Canada. In 1925, at the Rainbow Gardens in Chicago, Ted Healy and Moe and Shemp Howard saw their act. At the time, Healy and the Howards were popular vaudeville performers, known as "Ted Healy and his Stooges," which consisted of Healy telling jokes from the stage, while the Howard brothers heckled him from the audience. At the time, Shemp Howard was planning to leave the act to pursue a career as a solo performer, so Healy invited Fine to replace him. Healy offered Fine a salary of $90 per week, and an extra $10 if he got rid of his violin. When Fine joined the act, and Shemp Howard decided not to leave after all, they appeared in a string of successful Broadway shows before heading west to Hollywood to make two-reel comedies. (Fine didn't completely turn his back on his former partners, however. He married Mabel Haney in 1927.)

After their first film, "From Soup to Nuts" was made in 1930, Shemp left the act, and was replaced by another Howard brother, Jerome -- better known as Curly. After appearing in 10 films with Healy, Fine and the Howards left the act in 1934 to strike out on their own, going to work for Columbia Pictures. The Three Stooges, as they were now known, made nearly 200 two-reelers for Columbia, and they were among the most popular and most profitable film performers from the 1930s through the 1950s, though they were never able to convince Columbia to allow them to star in a feature-length film.

When Curly suffered a stroke in 1946, Shemp rejoined the act until his death in 1955. Shemp was briefly replaced by Joe Besser, then Curly Joe DeRita. Among the Stooges, Fine was often the forgotten man in the middle. While Moe Howard was the leader of the group, and either Curly or Shemp handled the most outlandish physical comedy, Fine's performances were often limited to being the target of Moe's violent attacks, or simply reacting to the situations around him. In fact, Fine was generally considered to be the most talented actor among the Stooges.

After leaving Columbia in 1958, the Stooges finally had the opportunity to appear in their first feature-length film -- "Have Rocket, Will Travel" (1959). They followed that with "Snow White and the Three Stooges" (1961), "The Three Stooges Meet Hercules" (1962), "The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze" (1963), and "The Outlaws is Coming" (1965). The Stooges also appeared in bit parts in "Four for Texas" (1963), a Western starring Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, and as a trio of firefighters in "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963).

The final Three Stooges film was "Kook's Tour" (1970), which featured the Stooges and their dog on a camping trip. During the final days of filming, Fine suffered a stroke, and was unable to complete the film. Director Norman Maurer attempted to salvage the film by adding additional scenes without Fine, and narration by Moe Howard. The film was finally released on video in 1999.

Off-screen, Fine was known as a friendly and gregarious man, often hosting large parties at his home. He also enjoyed betting on horses, and didn't save much of the meager salary he earned. In fact, Fine was almost forced into bankruptcy when Columbia terminated the Three Stooges comedies in 1958.

Fine is buried next to his wife, Mabel Haney Fine (1904 - 1967). They were married from 1927 until her death. Next to Mabel Fine is their son, John Joseph Fine (1936 - 1961), who was killed in an automobile accident.

Previous Grave Spotlights

Back to main page