Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chloroformed Turkey

Moe Howard, I Stooged to Conquer: The Autobiography of the Leader of the Three Stooges (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2013), pp. 53-4. Originally published as Moe Howard & the 3 Stooges (Citadel Press, 1977).

One of the most unusual stories in show business happened during the run of A Night in Venice. The story kept cropping up whenever shows folks gathered and was retold for many years thereafter, with some exaggeration along the way.

The show was touring and playing the Grand Theater in Chicago, while on the bill of the Shubert Theater across the street was an Earl Carroll show – I think it was Sketch Book. This is how the story was told to me:

It was Thanksgiving eve and a group of showgirls from Sketch Book and from A Night in Venice were having a high old time at the 606 Club after their performance. In the wee hours the club management raffled off chances on a turkey, and a group of the girls who had pooled their tickets won the twenty-four-pound bird – live, no less! It was packed in a large wooden crate, head protruding and gobbling like mad. The astonished doorman helped the girls put the crate into a cab and off they went to their hotel. With more help, they got the bird into their room and out of the crate. The frightened creature then tore wildly through the suite, under beds, and over tables. The girls were at a loss as to what they should do. One of them had an idea: tie the bird’s legs to a chair until morning, at which time they’d cook it. A second girl suggested that they lock it in the closet. A third girl said, “Not with my clothes in there.” Finally the girls went into a huddle and came up with a solution. One went to the all-night drugstore on Michigan Avenue where her boyfriend worked and asked him for some chloroform. She returned to the hotel, chloroformed the bird, gave it a vicious blow over the head, removed the feathers, and put it into the refrigerator.

The next morning, one of the girls went to the refrigerator, opened the door, and that poor featherless gobbler staggered out naked as a newborn bird.

The awesome sight sent the girls screaming down the hall to the apartment of some chorus boys, who completed the necessary task of doing away with the bird. A beautiful Thanksgiving dinner was served by the chorus boys in their apartment, but the girls wouldn’t eat a thing.