The act was progressing well for a time, then Ted decided they could use one more "stooge". Moe suggested his older brother Sam "Shemp" Howard and soon Ted, Moe and Shemp were a team. One night they were appearing on the bill with an act with a comic violinist, who they invited to join the team, and Andrew Louis Feinburg became Larry Fine and the comic science of 3 began. Very soon Shemp became tired of Ted's abusive behavior toward his (now called) 3 Southern Gentlemen (among other things) and broke away from the act. In the lurch needing a third "stooge", Moe suggested his baby brother Jerry Howard, who shaved his head to find a comic hairstyle to keep up with Moe's bowl cut and Larry's Jew-fro and Curly entered the picture.
In 1946 after literally dozens of 2-reel comedies, Curly suffered a stroke which debilitated him physically and kept him from any more Stoogieness. Brother Shemp returned to the fold to keep the team going until Curly could get his moves back, but he was never able to. Shemp remained with the group until 1955, then one night while coming from a night out at a boxing match, Shemp suffered a fatal heart attack.
Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Moe Howard
Then came the dark ages. In 1957 Joe Besser became the third stooge and sissyfied and lameified and basically made the stooges boring. In 1959 their Columbia contract was cancelled and the stooges retired and went their separate ways. A few years later, after their films had been re-discovered by droves of baby boomers, The 3 Stooges reformed and made a series of feature length films, this time with Joe DeRita as stooge #3 under the name "Curly Joe".