Those Wonderful, Waning Days Of Showmanship
Dateline November, 1963. The place is Indianapolis, Indiana’s Circle Theatre, where 2,500 anxious kiddies showed up en masse for the biggest Three Stooges Saturday Morning Movie Party the city had ever seen, or sad to say, would ever see again. Grassroots showmanship was making a glorious final stand here, but chances are few of these happy participants realized it. That sideshow pitchmaster out front is WFBM’s Harlow Hickenlooper, host of the weekly TV Stooge-fest, whose own frenzied promotion over the preceding weeks resulted in the twenty-five hundred free ducats now being redeemed at the crowded boxoffice. The feature was Three Stooges Go Around The World In A Daze, admittedly a step down even from the none too exacting standards of Harlow’s video inventory, but, hey, when the show’s a freebie, with a stage show besides, who’s kicking? The Greater Indianapolis Amusement Co., of which the Circle was a flagship venue, put all their best showmen on this project. Kids were writing in a month ahead of the playdate for their tickets, and within a week, they were gone-eroo. That stage show must have rocked. WFBM radio microphones were at the ready to record "exciting moments", which included improvised hijinx with Hickenlooper and his on-air stooges, Captain Star and "Curly". The whole thing culminated with a pie in the face for "Happy Harlow", his traditional TV sign-off. What a blast. WFBM-TV cameras were on hand "to take motion pictures of activities" at the event, with the footage to be unspooled on weekend newscasts and later on the Saturday Hickenlooper show. I wonder if this reel could have possibly survived (chances are it was shot on 16mm). What a priceless artifact that would be!