Any Stooge fan will recognize Christine McIntyre. Her name might not be familiar to them, but her striking looks, beautiful singing voice and classy demeanor instantly stands out amongst the zany antics in the world of the Three Stooges.
The Three Stooges made 190 short comedy films in their career. Stooge fans for generations would watch and rewatch their wild world unfold in these approximately 15-minute comedy adventures.
After so many viewings fans would become more and more familiar with the supporting actors that would lend assistance to Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp. In every Stooge story there was always a need for someone to play the mean cop, the dangerous hood, the angry construction worker or be the stuck up butler. These actors might not have been given a heck of a lot of dialogue or allowed much screen time, but their presence was essential for the comedy and destruction the boys would rain down on the screen.
Really, it would be no fun for the Stooges to destroy a priceless painting if the owner wasn’t there to witness the ruined masterpiece and crazily run after them with an ax.
Out of all the supporting actors that assisted in the Stooge anarchy through all those shorts perhaps none is more beloved by fans or as well remembered as Christine McIntyre. She was an instantly recognizable member of the Stooge world. She was a knockout blonde who would flirt with Curly, beat the daylights out of Shemp or ask the Stooges for some kind of help.
Seeing such a classy looking lady would make you wonder how did this actress end up in all these Stooge shorts? Did she just stumble onto the wrong set for acouple of years or something?
McIntyre would typically fulfill the role of straight woman to the pie fights, eye pokes and pratfalls. She would play a wide variety of roles – a princess, a Nazi spy, a woman who drinks a youth potion, a damsel in distress, a villainess, a salon singer, a sexy vamp and probably most famously as a wannabe singer who can belt out a pretty mean ‘Voices of Spring’ that even makes Moe, Larry and Curly applaud.
Born in Nogales, Arizona in 1911, McIntyre had received a Bachelors of Music degree at Chicago Musical College in 1933. She developed an operatic voice that would be used years later in Stooge shorts in ways that she probably never could have imagined.
With her classically trained voice she began singing on radio and stage and appearing in bit parts in several films at RKO Pictures. Her most notable pre-Stooge work was her appearances in several B-westerns.
With dark hair at the time she would star alongside such western actors as Ray Corrigan, Buck Jones and Johnny Mack Brown. Between the shoot-outs and bar brawls sometimes things would ease up long enough to allow McIntyre to showcase her singing talents.
Cowboy movies were such a popular thing at the time. Today most people will never have heard of their titles – must be in the thousands – but back in the day kids couldn’t get enough of these B-Westerns and the genre was at its peak. They were the superhero movies back in the day with ongoing adventures of good guys defeating bad guys.
Although not many movie fans are searching out these B-western pictures today (and I imagine a lot are difficult to find or have disappeared completely) there is still a small devoted fanbase who loves them. There’s always a handful of fans that will keep somethings legacy alive.
It was in 1944 that McIntyre signed a decade-long contract with Columbia Pictures. There she would become a contract player being assigned work wherever she might be needed. It would be here that would secure her screen legacy and she would meet the Three Stooges.
McIntyre started appearing in several two-reel comedies. For the uninformed, these comedy shorts would play before the main film at theaters.
You know how today when you goto the movies you’re shown a bunch of terrible commercials for soft drinks, announcements to turn off your cell phone (that no one seems to listen to) and some movie trailers before the movie starts? Well, movie audiences back in the ’40’s got to enjoy cartoons, two-reel comedies and news reels before the main feature. A movie ticket bought a lot more entertainment than it does today.
Comedy shorts from all the major studios were extremely popular at the time and Columbia assigned McIntyre to perform in many of their own two-reelers. It was around this time that she dyed her dark hair and became the golden-haired blonde Stooge fans know her as.
She would find herself acting alongside comedians Slim Summerville, Hugh Herbert, Harry Langdon, Vera Vague and Bert Wheeler in a variety of roles. These comedians might be mainly forgotten today – their two-reel comedies don’t get much play or are in demand anymore – but this steady work in the slapstick world allowed McIntyre to showcase her comedic chops and prove she just wasn’t a pretty face.
During this time McIntyre also worked with Shemp Howard when he was a solo performer and future Stooges Joe Besser and Joe DeRita in their own two-reel comedies. This would give her the distinction of making her one of the few actors to have worked with all six of the recurring Stooges. There’s not many people who can say that!
It was her debut appearance in 1944’s Stooge short Idle Roomers that would introduce McIntyre into Stooge history. She would subsequently appear in over twenty-seven Stooge shorts (not counting the last few ones that are mainly recycled footage).
From 1944 to ’46 she appeared alongside Moe, Larry and Curly in six shorts, the most famous being Micro-Phonies. In it Christine sings ‘Voices of Spring’ and Curly tries to trick a bunch of ritzy partygoers that her angelic voice is actually coming from him.
I’m not cultured in the genre of classical music by a long shot, but whenever I hear ‘Voices of Spring’ I immediately think of Christine and the Stooges. It’s sorta like how some classical songs I associate so closely with Looney Tunes cartoons I just can’t ever untangle their connection to them and the images automatically playback in my head when I hear them.
In 1946 Curly suffered his debilitating stroke and retired from the act. That’s when older brother and original third Stooge Shemp stepped in. Christine continued to co-star alongside the boys for eight more years and became the prettiest face fans could want to see in the Stooges world.
Throughout her Columbia contract she would pop up providing support, asking the boys for help, getting whistled at and slapping them silly. While the Stooges would be making pancakes out of cushions, eating bubblegum cakes and sawing holes in floors, Christine would give off wide-eyed bewilderment to the characters she was forced to deal with.
Christine had married in 1953. The following year when her Columbia contract ended so did Christine’s acting career. She decided to retire from acting and went into a career in real estate with her husband. The last released Stooge short that contained newly shot footage of Christine would be Of Cash and Hash released in 1955.
I can’t count the amount of time I’ve spent watching McIntyre share the screen with the Stooges through the years. It was very easy to develop a crush on her and how could you not think she wasn’t a cool lady seeing her work alongside the Stooges. When they barked like puppies when she walked into a room I couldn’t blame them!
After watching the Stooge shorts so many times I naturally got curious as to the supporting players in all of them. I mean, we all know the stories behind Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp and what would become of them, but their supporting company of actors would be something of a mystery. We would recognize them as they reappeared in various roles, but we never knew much about them. I got curious as to who they were, how they ended up working with the Stooges and whatever became of them, especially Christine – and I knew I couldn’t have been the only one.
And of course I wasn’t. Years before anyone could easily pull up info about anyone on the planet by just sitting at a keyboard, one hardcore Stooge fan Bill Cappello took it upon himself to track down Christine back in the mid-70’s.
His mission was to find out what became of her after she retired in 1954 and to shed some light on this beautiful actress. Most of the information about her that you’ll find floating around in the deep corners of the internet comes from him and his tireless search to track her down. So thanks to him fans learned more about Christine than they ever would have had he not been so tenacious to launch his McIntyre investigation.
It might sound a bit stalker-ish at first, but it’s actually a really sweet story of simply a fan wanting to learn more about a performer they admired. I’m not going to rehash what Bill’s epic search for Christine revealed. It’s a story that he tells beautifully in his own words and is really worth reading.
It also shows just how passionate fans can become towards a performer. When Christine was going to work and filming those Stooge shorts she might not have thought much about those two-reelers. Maybe it was just a job for a few days and she hadn’t expected her work to be remembered. Maybe she was just happy to have her name on a title card, have a few laughs on set, do her best to be a supporting player and was just thankful she was being paid to perform.
But thanks to Bill perhaps she learned just how much of an impact she had on some fans decades after she showed up onto those Stooge sets. That when she was trading slaps and come hither looks at the Stooges it would become her long-remembered lasting impression.
I’m pretty confident new generations of young fans will be discovering her every year as they become introduced to the Stooges (who will continue to last and entertain). And I’m betting those future fans most likely will become just as enamored of Christine as Bill and so many others have become. Maybe she’ll even become the person they immediately think of when they hear ‘Voices of Spring’ too.
A tribute video I made of Christine. Along with her work with the Stooges featuring some clips of her other two-reelers and film appearances.