Jerks of All Trades

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Jerks of All Trades
Genre Sitcom, Television pilot
Directed by George Cahan
Starring Moe Howard
Larry Fine
Shemp Howard
Emil Sitka
Symona Boniface
Dink Trout
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 1
Producer(s) Phil Berle
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 20 minutes
Distributor public domain
Original network ABC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original release October 12, 1949

Jerks of All Trades (identified on the title card only as “The Three Stooges”) is the title of an American television pilot released on October 12, 1949. It was the Three Stooges' first and only pilot made with Shemp Howard in the role of the third stooge. Filmed before a live studio audience, it was a pilot for a planned TV series on the then-new ABC Television Network; the series never went into production due to objections from Columbia Pictures, who held the trio under contract. The pilot film is currently in the public domain and is available on home video.


The overall concept of the series was that each week The Stooges would try a different job or trade to see if eventually they might succeed; the comedy would ensue as each career they tried would eventually turn into a fiasco. In the pilot they try their hand as interior decorators. In their office, they meet a new client, Mr. Pennyfeather (Emil Sitka). Just a few moments after Pennyfeather arrives, Shemp accidentally spills ink down the front of Pennyfeather's suit, who becomes enraged. The Stooges then challenge Pennyfeather to mischief with them, featuring the famous "Texas" routine. After the some slapstick mayhem, they are successful in tossing Mr. Pennyfeather out of the office. Suddenly, the next client calls him on the phone for them to come in to manage her house. In her house, The Stooges not only hang wallpaper, but also manage to trash their client's home. Unfortunately, that woman is Mrs. Pennyfeather (Symona Boniface) and that house is Mr. Pennyfeather's house. After Mr. Pennyfeather comes home, the Stooges cover Mr. Pennyfeather with wallpaper and both Mr. Pennyfeather and the Stooges recognize each other (after Pennyfeather imitates the "Texas" routine done for him earlier by the Stooges). In a rage, as the trio attempts to sneak out of the house, both Pennyfeathers attack the boys with their own paint and utensils; the Pennyfeathers also snipe at each other for hiring them.

In the end, Moe, Larry, and Shemp, defeated and severely injured, remove "interior decorators" from the long list of services (listed on their office door) they offer. The list included other comically misspelled potential occupations for the trio for future episodes: physicians, surgeons, lawyers, engineers (civil, aeronautical, electrical and chemical), psychiatrists, optometrists (and "downtown-etrists"), bank examiners, real estate brokers (and broke estate realers), income tax preparers and babysitters (18 and over only).


  • The pilot took a single day to film, and was never aired. It was actually a kinescope film of a three camera television production, most likely to replicate a proposed live broadcast series.
  • As sketch humor it compared well with the Stooges's own short films of the day, and with other early network comedy series. But it was fated not to become a regular series. B.B. Kahane, Columbia Pictures' Vice-President of Business Affairs, stopped the show from being broadcast. Kahane warned the Stooges that a contract stipulation restricted them from performing in a TV series that might compete with their two-reel comedies. Columbia further threatened to cancel the boys' contract and take them to court if they tried to sell the series. To avert a legal hassle, the pilot was shelved and the project abandoned; Columbia instead licensed a package of 30 shorts from the film series to ABC, beginning a long tradition for The Three Stooges on television.[1]
  • The Three Stooges (with Joe DeRita as the third stooge with Moe and Larry) would eventually land their first made-for-television series in 1965, The New 3 Stooges, for which the trio contributed short live-action wraparounds and voices for animated segments. (Many of the New 3 Stooges episodes likewise dealt with the trio performing various jobs that descend into chaos, just as this series had originally intended.) Like Jerks of All Trades, most of The New 3 Stooges is now in the public domain.
  • The Stooges would try another television series Kook's Tour in late 1969 and early 1970, again with DeRita as the third stooge. It was a show based on cinema verite filming of the ongoing adventures of the Stooges in their travels, mixing farce with a look and feel that almost anticipated modern reality TV shows like MTV's Road Rules. But Larry suffered a severe stroke after the pilot was shot, making it impossible for him to continue and bringing the project to an end before the show could air.
  • On April 16, 2002, The Three Stooges All Time Favorites DVD was released and featured this pilot as well as an interview with the director.
  • Symona Boniface made her last on-camera appearance on this pilot. She would die in 1950; stock footage of her would reappear in Stooge shorts for the hext six years.


  1. ^ Grossman, Gary H. Saturday Morning TV, Dell Publishing, 1981

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