Friday, January 22, 2010

The Last Stooge: Emil Sitka

Emil Sitka was a best known actor in nearly 40 of THE THREE STOOGES short films, yet was never really a household name. But, his outrageous catch phrase of "Hold hands, you lovebirds" in BRIDELESS GROOM, lives on forever. Sitka was also considered to be the "fourth stooge" by many, and was even set to join Moe Howard and Curly Joe DeRita after Larry Fine suffered a 1970 stroke and was unable to work.

Son of a Pennsylvania coal miner, who died of black lung when he was just 12 years old, and a sick mother unable to care for young Sitka, Sitka lived with a Catholic priest. Sitka nearly became a priest because of the influence of faith in his life. But fortunately, for THREE STOOGES fans he went on to become a fan favorite in numerous THREE STOOGES episodes instead.

Sitka's goofy appearance as a preacher set to marry Shemp so that he could inherit $500,000 in BRIDELESS GROOM made him an instant comedy classic hit. He was just as funny as the other THREE STOOGES in this classic short film. Sitka was a great comic actor.

In 1971, after Larry Fine had become paralyzed with the effects of a stroke, an elderly Moe Howard hoped to revive THE THREE STOOGES one last time and asked Sitka to join him and Curly Joe DeRita. Some publicity shots were taken, and there were high hopes for some new projects involving THE THREE STOOGES. But there were few new actual opportunities for the elderly trio of comics, and Sitka never got to perform on film as the replacement for Larry. By 1975, first Larry, and then Moe had died.

But Sitka remained a lifelong fan of THE THREE STOOGES, and was a real wealth of knowledge about them. In June of 1997, Sitka was hosting some fans of THE THREE STOOGES at his home relating history of the comedy greats, didn't feel very well, and then suffered a serious massive stroke. He never regained consciousness, and sadly died months later in January of 1998.

More than 320,000 persons have visited the Emil Sitka website run by his son, Saxon Emil Sitka. And there's even a newsletter for fans of this great character actor. And strangely, on his headstone, his famous words are written, "Hold hands, you lovebirds".