‘Sappy Bullfighters’ (1959) is the 190th and final short comedy made by The Three Stooges for Columbia Pictures. It was photographed on Monday July 4 and Tuesday July 5, 1957 and released on Thursday June 4, 1959 (the 155th day in the Gregorian calendar). It’s a remake of a 1942 Curly outing ‘What’s The Matador’. The best part of the film comes at 14 minutes in, when old footage of a Curly double riding a bull is intercut with new footage of Joe Besser riding what appears to be a child’s mechanical toy bull. Aside from this hilariously inept moment I see no point in going any further with critical appraisal of the film.

Of much more interest than the film is the film’s leading lady Greta Thyssen. The stunning and voluptuous Miss Denmark of 1951, Thyseen is a type straight out of a James Ellroy novel–a blonde bombshell wandering the wastelands of the late studio-era, finding herself in the dead-end alleyways of cheap TV gigs (she was the original ‘Pirate Girl’ on the game show ‘Treasure Hunt’, assisting host Jan Murray with presenting prizes hidden in miniature treasure chests) and appearing in bottom-rung B pictures with titles like ‘Accused Of Murder’, ‘Three Blondes In His Life’ and ‘Journey To The Seventh Planet’. She even had a run-in with the law–in 1953 she was ordered deported from the U.S. for having violated her visitor’s permit in two ways: the permit had expired in March 1953, and despite her status as a visitor, she worked in films and television. If this were an Ellroy novel the deportation story (which made no headlines whatsoever) would have been a failed attempt at garnering a little publicity for the starlet. Indeed, maybe it was.

Thyssen’s career resolutely failed to launch. Her closest brush with legitimacy came in a movie she didn’t even appear in –in 1956 she body-doubled for Marilyn Monroe in ‘Bus Stop’. She was no doubt preyed upon by the aging and lascivious (and soon to be irrelevant) studio executives who were on their way to being flushed out of the floundering studio system (she slammed through three marriages in just under a decade) and little would be known about her now if not for a fortuitous call from Jules White to appear in a Three Stooges short—by then a gig that was strictly from hunger. Thyssen gamely showed up and so impressed the boys that she was invited back again…and again, turning up in ‘Pies and Guys’, ‘Quizz Whizz’ and today’s outing. She is admirably professional and gamely takes a pie in the kisser in one of the three outings (hint–it’s the movie with the word ‘pies’ in the title). Somewhat charmingly, Thyssen didn’t seem to consider her Stooges work demeaning–largely because she didn’t know who they were. “I didn’t quite understand that those kind of shorts would later be so admired and loved,” she said in a 2010 interview. “I just was offered the job, because (the Stooges) wanted to start again. There was a new producer, and it was a new time. I think the original ones — weren’t they in the thirties?” Thyssen gamely attempted dating Cary Grant in 1960 when the actor was deep in his LSD phase in an attempt to find ‘inner peace’ (here I see Ellroy raising an eyebrow at ‘Lavender Loving Cary’). The pairing didn’t take–though Thyssen may have been the template for Grant’s final starlet ‘conquest’ Dyan Cannon.

Thyssen’s movie career ended with an appearance in the 1967 musical ‘Cottonpickin’ Chickenpickers’. She married for a fourth time, raised a family and became an artist in New York painting nude figures against surrealist backgrounds. This sounds like a form of self-portraiture–with Thyssen the nude displayed against the aging Moe, Larry and Joe. She lived to the age of 90 and, like other obscure actresses of the late-studio era, seemed bemused when later looking back at her odd career trajectory; from a brush with a legend–Monroe–to a pie in the face from the Stooges. In her obit her daughter Genevive Guenther said: “She was always cagey about her acting career… My mother was a very clever woman and extremely well read. If she had been born in a different era, I think she could have been a lawyer or professor…I think that she always felt a little bit embarrassed about the movie persona that she adopted as this kind of voluptuous, glamorous Danish pastry with nothing between her head except silk and feathers.” 


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