Shemp Howard, along with brother Moe Howard and family friend Larry Fine (originally known as Ted Healy’s Southern Gentlemen), began their show business career in the 1920s as protégés of the Broadway entertainer. In 1930, Healy and the trio appeared together in their first film, Soup to Nuts, a feature production scripted by cartoonist Rube Goldberg. When Shemp left the act shortly thereafter to pursue a solo career, brother Jerome (Curly) Howard came aboard, and the group soon became known as the Three Stooges.
Aside from being the Three Stooges’ film debut, Soup to Nuts contains many scenes of the trio, playing firemen, riding a fire truck around the Skid Row area due east of the newly constructed Los Angeles City Hall, completed in 1928. The film contains many remarkable images of buildings, and even entire streets, which have since been redeveloped into oblivion.
Because Keaton filmed frequently in Skid Row, it’s not surprising that Buster and the Three Stooges nearly crossed paths. In one scene the Stooges ride north up Los Angeles Street towards the intersection where Buster knocked out a traffic cop in Cops (1922). (See another Keaton – Soup to Nuts connection in this later post. See two posts about Keaton and the Stooges both filming at the Columbia Ranch at this Part One post, this Part Two post, and this Part Three post).
Instead of passing through this intersection, the Stooges turn right (east) down Aliso Street (thin arrows on photos above and below), and right again onto San Pedro Street (thick arrows above and below). As they make the turn onto San Pedro, the east tower of the Baker Building appears in the background, matching the view Buster saw of the building when knocking down a policeman in Cops.
Buster and the Stooges also filmed in the shadow of City Hall, looking south down Market Street (now lost) from the corner of San Pedro – this time with Keaton’s film Neighbors (1920).
The side of City Hall appearing in Soup to Nuts can be seen as it looks today on Google Street View.