08/17/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT
What was the name of the Three Stooges' pet skunk in 1965's The Outlaws Is Coming? The answer: Elvis. And who was the sponsor of the TV show in 1962's The Three Stooges in Orbit) That would, of course, be N'Yuk-N'Yuks, "The Breakfast of Stooges." The short in which Curly shot an oyster? Dutiful but Dumb (1941).
Didn't know? Don't care? What are you anyway, a knucklehead? Robert Kurson, who compiled more than 1,400 entries in the just-published The Official Three Stooges Encyclopedia ($29.95), is a Stoogeiana expert who woo-woo-wooed his way through Harvard Law School. So there!
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Kurson, 35, who forsook the practice of law in 1994 and is now a features writer at the Chicago Sun-Times, watched the Stooges every Saturday morning. His impersonations made him popular with friends in school—and a regular in the principal's office. "When I didn't know the name of a king on a history test," he says, "I wrote 'King Cole of Coleslawvania.' "
And he never lost his devotion to Moe, Larry and Curly (not to mention substitutes Shemp, Joe Besser and Curly Joe DeRita). "I knew I had to write this book," says Kurson. That meant he also had to watch (and re-watch) just about the entire Stooge oeuvre, including the 190 shorts that they made.
"The Stooges," says Kurson, "are more than just poking out eyes, throwing pies, and hacksaws across the head. There's a rhythm, a beauty to the language." N'Yuk-N'Yuk!