The Anniversary of Stan Laurels Birthday

As you probably know, Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born in Ulverston Lancashire today, 16th June – in 1890. Ulverston is now of course in Cumbria and is the home of the Laurel and Hardy Museum.

Just Stan

While we all know about Stan, here’s some trivia – not in any particular order, some of which you might not have heard, interspersed with some wonderful still images. Many of these are not often seen, certainly not in such a high resolution and are taken from across his career. Again – not in any particular order!

Stan in a solo film ‘Near Dublin’ that he made for Hal Roach in 1924

Born as Arthur Stanley Jefferson, theatre was in his blood as his father, Arthur Jefferson, was a theatre manager and his mother, Margaret Jefferson, was an actress.

A lesser seen version of the classic Liberty (1928) pose

Stan and Charlie Chaplin travelled together to America with the Fred Karno Troupe. and often shared a room while on tour. Despite this, Chaplin doesn’t mention Stan once in his autobiography.

Dirty Work (1933)

When Stan moved to the United States, he registered for military service during the First World War. He was never called up however due to his resident alien status and apparently his flat feet(!) and deafness…

Taking a break b]with Babe while filming Towed in a Hole in November 1932

Stan occasionally used the phrase ‘the Little fellow’ to describe his on screen character, at five feet eight he was in fact taller than than Chaplin, Keaton, Langdon, and all of the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers. The height and weight of Babe (six foot two) contributed to his being considered a smaller man.

Bonnie Scotland (1935) – Home Sweet Home

The popular ‘Simpsons’ catchphrase, ‘D’oh!’ has its origins in the Laurel and Hardy films. Much loved Scottish actor James Finlayson, or ‘Fin’ who appeared 33 times with Laurel and Hardy often said it when exasperated!

In the films where Bowlers were worn – there were a great many other hats he used – Stan wore a Bowler hat a size or two smaller so that it sat higher on his head. In the films where they mix up their hats, Ollie wore a larger size than normal so that it would look humorously oversized on Stan while Stan’s was substituted for an even smaller size to go on Ollie’s head.

You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928) with Agnes Steele

Stan Laurel was presented with the Annual Screen Actors Guild award in the sixties ‘for outstanding achievement in foster the finest ideals of the acting profession and advancing the principles of good citizenship.’

‘Behind the scenes’ on Pack up Your Troubles on 2 May 1932 in Sunset Park, Los Angeles

Stan had a chequered marital life! He married his first wife once, his second wife twice, and his third wife three times. He then went back and married his second wife for athird time, and concluded by marrying his fourth wife once.

Une Nuit Extravagante (The French version of Blotto, 1930) with Georgette Rhodes as Mrs Laurel

He and Babe were contracted by Hal Roach Jr to star in a series of TV specials – to be called ‘Laurel and Hardy’s Fabulous Fables’ but they were never made due to Stan’s and then Babe’s failing health.

Bacon Grabbers (1929) with Charlie Hall

Beside his passion for comedy and film-making Stan’s did have other interests. These included fishing and hydroponic gardening (a process in which plants are grown in chemical solutions rather than soil). He once successfully cross-bred a potato with an onion! Perhaps unsurprisingly, he struggled to get anyone to sample the results.

Stan’s first film Nuts in May (1917) in which he played a mental patient, won him a contract with Universal but the contract was not renewed and he returned to vaudeville.

At the KFVD radio station in 1929. Note the cross in the back of Ollie’s bowler.

When Babe died in 1957, Stan was devastated. He retired from acting and refused to perform on stage or act in another film without him. Sadly, he was too ill to attend the funeral of his best friend, saying, “Babe would understand”.

The Chimp (1932)

By 1926 Stan had decided that his true vocation was in writing and directing instead of performing comedy.

A publicity still for Another Fine Mess (1930)

Stan was the creative force behind most of the Laurel and Hardy catalogue. He worked non-stop, often long into the night writing and editing their films. When asked a question about a gag or story line, Babe would always point to Stan and simply say “ask Stan”.

Peter Sellers, a big fan of Stan’s said of the voice he used for ‘Chance’ the gardener in Being There ” … very clear enunciation, slightly American with a touch of Stan Laurel mixed in”. Tony Hancock was also a fan and also visited Stan in the 60’s

A still taken while on location in Hollenbeck Park LA in May 1929 for Men O’ War

As a boy, his early education took place at a kindergarten in a house in Dockwray Square, North Shields, where his family lived, and at King James 1 Grammar school in Bishop Auckland, as a boarder. Stan said he thought this was because he was always getting into mischief and trouble at home.

The boys have reached a ‘ripe old age’ in a deleted scene from Pardon Us (1931)

In his final years, Stan’s personal phone number was in the phone book so fans could contact him and he replied to all his fan-mail by hand – on his little typewriter. Dick Van Dyke was desperate to meet his hero, and famously just found his number in the phone book, called him up and the pair became firm friends

Stan outlived Babe who passed away at 65 in August 1957. Like Babe, Stan was a heavy smoker but decided to quit suddenly around 1960. Five years later he died of a heart attack on February 23 1965.

We hope you’ve found a thing or two you didn’t know about Stan, or perhaps have seen an image for the first time. If you’d like to leave your own birthday tribute, or just would like to leave a comment, please use the box below. We’d live to hear from you and all thoughts will receive a response on this page

8 thoughts on “The Anniversary of Stan Laurels Birthday

  1. Hi Mike, great article and pics but……there’s a whoops in the first paragraph. It says Stan was born on the 16th July instead of June. All the excellent posts you do means you’re allowed the odd mistake. Fraternally yours, Dave.

    Like

    1. Hello Dave,

      Thanks for visiting, for your kind comments and well done on passing that test! Ahem…

      I’ve corrected my slight faux pas in the main article and thanks for pointing it out and of course your understanding! the only think is, that wasnt an “odd mistake”. It was a belter!

      Take care and ‘speak’ soon!

      Mike

      Like

  2. Great article. Lovely photos. Sure is time to celebrate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting Willie and for your kind remarks.

      It certainly is a great day to celebrate and I hope, nay, expect, that Sons worldwide with raise a glass to Arthur Stanley Jefferson at some point today!

      Take care

      Mike

      Like

  3. If there was a Foo-Yung’s near by I would buy some Sukiyaki to celebrate Stan’s University. Happy birthday Stan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Anth and what a splendid idea!

      Thanks for visiting and please, stay safe!

      Mike

      Like

  4. Henry Ottinger June 18, 2021 — 5:28 pm

    Hello Mike:
    I always have enjoyed their films and seeing new stills is a great treat for me and my wife, Karen. I met she due to the Boys. When a friend asked if she liked Laurel and Hardy and she said yes, he said I know just who you should meet and that was over 47 years ago. Nuff said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Henry

      Nice to hear from you and “nuff said” indeed! That’s all there is. There isn’t any more. That’s your story and you’re stuck with it … in it …

      Wonderful that you met that way and in a similar vein, I did read of one chap who would test his latest date by asking if she liked Laurel and Hardy. Anything other than a firm “yes!” meant no second date! Quite right too 😆

      Thanks again for visiting and Stay Safe!

      Mike Jones

      Like

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