About Laurel & Hardy

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were comedians who found fame after being teamed together in short films at the Hal Roach Studios during Hollywood’s silent era (circa 1927). Known as “Laurel & Hardy,” the team’s popularity continued to grow with the advent of sound films. Eventually, they became stars of their own feature films.

Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson, 16 June 1890) was an English comic actor, writer, and film director who was part of the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. He appeared with his comedy partner Oliver Hardy in 106 short films, feature films, and cameo roles. A full Stan Laurel Biography can be found here.

Stan began his career in music hall where he developed a number of his standard comic devices, including the bowler hat, the deep comic gravity, and the nonsensical understatement. His performances were largely as a result of polishing his skills at pantomime and music hall sketches.

He was a member of “Fred Karno’s Army”, where he was Charlie Chaplin’s understudy. He and Chaplin arrived in the United States on the same ship from the United Kingdom with the Karno troupe and were room mates as they travelled around the country. He began his film career in 1917 and made his final appearance in 1951.

From 1928 onwards, he appeared exclusively with Oliver Hardy, and Stan officially retired from the screen following his comedy partner’s death in 1957. In 1961, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy, and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.

The statue in Ulverston

Laurel and Hardy ranked top among best double acts and seventh overall in a 2005 UK poll to find the Comedians’ Comedian. In 1992 a statue was unveiled in Dockwray Square North Shields where stan lived for a while in his childhood and in 2009, a bronze statue of the duo was unveiled in Stan’s home town of Ulverston.

In April 2019, Stan was voted Britain’s Greatest Comedian by the public and a panel of experts. For details, click here.

  • Real name Arthur Stanley Jefferson. Born in Ulverston, England on June 16th, 1890. 
  • Auburn hair, blue eyes. Height 5ft 9in. Weight 10st 10lb (in 1933). 
  • Educated at King James Grammar School, Bishop Auckland.  
  • Following stage appearances in England as a comedian, toured America in Fred Karno’s Company in 1910. Became producer for a short time. Successful comedy roles on screen since around 1917. 
  • Married to four women: 1926-35 Lois Neilsen, 1935-37 and 1941-46 Virginia Ruth Rogers, 1938-40 Vera Ivanova Shuvalova (“Illeana”) and 1946-65 (his death) Ida Kitaeva Raphael, who survived him. Mae Charlotte Dahlberg was his ‘common-law’ wife from 1918 till 1925. 
  • Legally changed his name to Stan Laurel in 1931, preferring “Stan” to “Stanley”. 
  • Two children, Lois and Stanley Robert. Robert lived only a few weeks.
  • According to his wife Ruth, Stan could dance and yodel and believed in reincarnation. 
  • Stan died on 23rd February, 1965.

Stan on Babe:

Hardy inspires me. He is like the character he portrays because of certain individual traits. To me, he is refreshing, so darned human! His humour lies in the funny way he thinks. I can look at him and know just what he is thinking. His moods are very funny to me, the moods of a born comedian.”

Oliver Hardy

Oliver Norvell Hardy (born Norvell Hardy, January 18, 1892) and known as Babe to his friends, was an American comic actor and one half of Laurel and Hardy, the double act that began in the era of silent films and lasted from 1927 to 1951. A full Oliver Hardy Biography can be found here.

He appeared with Stan Laurel in 106 short films, feature films, and cameo roles. He was credited with his first film Outwitting Dad in 1914. In some of his early works, he was billed as “Babe Hardy”, Babe being his nickname as a young man. In 1917, Babe moved to Los Angeles working freelance for several Hollywood studios, and he made more than 40 films for Vitagraph between 1918 and 1923, mostly playing the “heavy” for Larry Semon.

In 1925, he starred as the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz and was in the film Yes, Yes, Nanette!, starring James Finlayson and directed by Stan Laurel. In 1926, Ollie was scheduled to appear in Get ‘Em Young, but he was hospitalised after being burned by a hot leg of lamb. Stan was again the director and was recruited to fill in.

Stan continued to act and appeared in 45 Minutes from Hollywood with Babe, although they did not share any scenes together, before teaming up officially in 1927. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street.

  • Real name Norvell Hardy. Born in Harlem, Georgia, USA on January 18th, 1892.
  • Black hair, brown eyes. Height 6ft 2in.
  • At his heaviest, weighed 25st.
  • Long and varied experience on the stage and screen.
  • Known to his friends and colleagues as ‘Babe’.
  • Married three times: 1913-1920 Madelyn Saloshin, 1921-1937 Myrtle Lee Reeves, 1940-1957 (his death) Virginia Lucille Jones.
  • No children.
  • Had a leaf-shaped tattoo on the inside of his right forearm.
  • Won more than thirty-five trophies, including two gold medals, for his ability on the golf course.
  • Never legally added “Oliver” to his name.
  • Babe died on August 7th, 1957.

Babe on Stan

“Laurel is the most unselfish man that ever lived and the funniest man in the world, as a comedian, as a writer and as a human being. He is so distinctive that he stands absolutely alone. He doesn’t depend upon funny clothes to make him funny, he is funny in himself. And I have sense enough to stand back and let him be funny.”

With thanks to various Wikipedia sites

 

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