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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Laurel and Hardy

Stan Laurel was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson on June 16, 1890 in Ulverston, Lancashire, England.

In 1910, with the stage name of "Stan Jefferson", Laurel joined Fred Karno's troupe of actors, which also included a young Charlie Chaplin. The British music hall nurtured him, and he got his first break as understudy for Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin and Laurel arrived in the United States on the same ship from Britain with the Karno troupe and toured the country.

Stan Jefferson changed his surname to Laurel around this time after his girlfriend suggested that having a stage name with 13 letters was bad luck.

When both Stan Laurel and Chaplin moved to America in 1912 they shared a room in a boarding house. Cooking was not allowed in the boarding house where the pair stayed, so Chaplin would play the violin to cover up the sound of Laurel frying up food on a hot plate.

Stan Laurel made his big screen debut with the 1917 silent comedy short, Nuts in May.

Oliver Hardy was born Norvell Hardy on January 18, 1892 in Harlem, Georgia, USA.. He chose his father's first name calling himself Oliver Norvell Hardy during his career as a stage singer.

Oliver Hardy's first onscreen appearance was in the 1914 comedy film, Outwitting Dad. He was billed as 'Babe Hardy' in the credits.

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Oliver Hardy was rejected for enlistment by the Army during the First World War because of his weight.

Both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were accomplished actors before teaming up. Laurel had appeared in over 50 films while Hardy had been in more than 250 productions.

Putting Pants on Philip, the first Laurel and Hardy film, was released on December 3, 1927. The idea for the short was Stan Laurel's and was based on a story recounted by a friend while Laurel worked in music hall.

Both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy had previously been  cast as separate performers in the 1921 silent short, The Lucky Dog. After signing with Hal Roach film studio to individual contracts they were cast together once again (although in different roles) in the 1926 flick 5 Minutes From Hollywood. Putting Pants On Philip was the first film to bill them as an official team.

As a team Laurel and Hardy appeared in 107 films, with the pair starring in 32 silent shorts, 40 sound shorts and 23 full-length features.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's final on-screen appearance together was in the 1951 French/Italian movie Atoll K (see below).

Unlike most movie stars, Stan Laurel's number was listed in the telephone directory. Fans were amazed to hear him answer the phone at his California home.

Stan Laurel once successfully cross-bred a potato with an onion, but he couldn’t get anyone to eat one.

When Oliver Hardy died of a stroke on August 7, 1957, Stan Laurel was too ill to attend his funeral and said, "Babe would understand". Hardy was 65 at the time of his passing.

Stan Laurel was a heavy smoker until suddenly quitting around 1960, five years before his death from a heart attack, on February 23, 1965. He was 74. Laurel was cremated, and his ashes were interred in Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery.

Stan Laurel's grave at Forest Lawn. By Kafziel Complaint Department -  CC BY-SA Wikipedia Commons

In early 2017, a Dutch ophthalmologist who studied Laurel and Hardy's 92 films, concluded that they probably suffered 88 eye injuries across their career, with Laurel's finger the most common cause, followed by his fist.


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