In 1959, after Jerome ('Curly') Howard, Shemp Howard, and Joe Besser had either retired or died, this hefty, bald slapstick comedian stepped in as the final "third Stooge" alongside mainstays Moe Howa...
Joined the Three Stooges, taking over for Joe Besser
Supplied the voice of Curly for the animated children's TV show, "The New Three Stooges"
Appeared in the last of the Three Stooges' feature films, "The Outlaws Is Coming!"
First notable feature film role, in a small part in "The Doughgirls"
Moved into the Motion Picture and Television Fund convalescent home and hospital after suffering a series of strokes (date approximate)
First feature film as one of the Stooges, "Have Rocket, Will Travel"
In 1959, after Jerome ('Curly') Howard, Shemp Howard, and Joe Besser had either retired or died, this hefty, bald slapstick comedian stepped in as the final "third Stooge" alongside mainstays Moe Howard and Larry Fine. DeRita, often known as 'Curly Joe', joined the Three Stooges after the group had made nearly 200 comedy shorts spanning a quarter century. The new Stooges were ready to move into a series of low-budget features arising from their newfound popularity due to the TV syndication of their shorts. DeRita was less manic than either Shemp or the original Curly and given to less face-making, but his trademark prissy fussiness was also less funny. The trio romped their aging but still comically crackpot way through a half-dozen silly if broadly amusing vehicles in which they encountered Hercules, Snow White, and Western outlaws and were sent into orbit on several occasions.
In 1993, DeRita's stepsons filed a lawsuit questioning the distribution of profits of and assignment of rights held by Comedy III, a company formed in 1959 by the Three Stooges. The suit was settled in their favor.