Dick Curtis: Of Stooges and Stages

Kentucky native Dick Curtis (1902-1952) appeared in nearly 250 films between 1930 and 1952, mostly westerns and comedy shorts at Columbia, in roles ranging from extra parts and walk-ons to decent sized supporting parts. He was usually cast as villains and henchmen.

In comedies, he appeared most often with the Three Stooges, in shorts such as We Want Our Mummy (1939), Boom Goes the Groom (1939), Yes We Have No Bonanza (1939), Oily to Bed Oily to Rise (1939), You Nazty Spy (1940), Rockin’ Thru the Rockies (1940), Crash Goes the Hash (1944), The Three Troubledoers (1946), Three Arabian Nuts (1951), Don’t Throw That Knife (1951), and The Tooth Will Out (1951). He was also in Tars and Stripes (1935) with Buster Keaton; Time Out for Trouble (1938) and The Awful Goof (1939) with Charley Chase; A Nag in the Bag (1938) with Smith and Dale; Now it Can Be Sold (1939), Trouble Finds Andy Clyde (1939), and All American Blondes (1939) with Andy Clyde; Glove Slingers (1939) with Shemp Howard and Noah Beery Jr; Woo Woo (1945), The Mayor’s Husband (1945), Get Along Little Zombie (1946) and A Slip and a Miss (1946) with Hugh Herbert; Snooper Service (1945) and Pistol Packin’ Nitwits (1945), with El Brendel and Harry Langdon; Off Again On Again (1945) with Shemp Howard; Hot Water with Gus Schilling (1946); and Rootin’ Tootin’ Tenderfeet (1952) with Max Baer and Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom; and Heebie Gee Gees (1952) with Wally Vernon and Eddie Quillan. His comedy features included Girl Crazy (1932) and The Nitwits (1935) with Wheeler and Woolsey, and Scared Stiff (1945) with Jack Haley.

Curtis’s many serials and thrillers include Mandrake the Magician (1939), Terry and the Pirates (1940), and the original Batman (1941). Scores and scores of westerns make up the bulk of his creidts including such classics of the genre as the Robert Taylor version of Billy the Kid (1941), Honky Tonk (1941) with Clark Gable, and Abilene Town (1946) with Randolph Scott.

In 1946, with the backing and participating of Roy Rogers and Russell Hayden of the Hopalong Cassidy films, he developed Pioneer Town, a unique facility that doubled as a western movie set and an actual functioning town with residential dwellings and small businesses. Gene Autry’s TV show, The Cisco Kid, and Judge Roy Bean starring Edgar Buchanan were among the many productions shot there. The rock club and western theme bar Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneer Palace is one of the more popular attraction in Pioneertown. As of this writing it is still a going concern.

As for its founder, actor Dick Curtis was not yet 50 when died of complications from lung cancer in 1952.

For more on classic comedy read  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.