Laurel and Hardy

The funniest, cleverest one-liner you could ever think up will never be as funny as a bucket landing on someone's head. Harshad JoshiLaurel & Hardy are one of the greatest comedy duos in cinema history. Even looking at them is enough to make you smile. Oliver Hardy was a larger than life American with a comically small moustache. Stan Laurel was the child-like beanpole of an Englishman perpetually bemused by life. Together, their relationship and the comic situations that they found themselves in, were the subject of countless films. Between 1927 and 1952, they made the world laugh and jumped successfully from the silent era into the ‘talkies’.

Stan Laurel
Born in 1890 to a theatrical father, Arthur Stanley Jefferson grew up in Ulverston in Lancashire. After leaving school he did odd jobs around the theatres and music halls until he landed a part in a play and his talent became immediately obvious. He spent many years as an understudy to Charlie Chaplin and they arrived together in America with a touring production of a show that eventually became known as A Night in An English Music Hall. Unlike his future partner or Chaplin, Stan rarely made ventures into film and spent most of his time performing in vaudeville theatres.

In 1924, he joined the Hal Roach film company as a scriptwriter and two years later stepped in after one of the stars of Get ‘Em Young was injured. That star was Oliver Hardy. On the strength of his performance, Stan was encouraged to create a part for himself in the upcoming feature Slipping Wives. It was immediately obvious to everyone on the film set that the time Laurel and Hardy were on stage together was pure comedic gold. They were paired together so frequently that they became comedy partners.

Stan was married four times and had one daughter Lois Jr, born in 1927. The 1930s saw him perpetually unhappy at home and found reasons not to be there. Already a workaholic, he threw himself further into the workings of the studio or indulged in his favourite pastime of salmon fishing. He also bred ducks.

Oliver Hardy
Born in 1892, Ollie started life as Norvell Hardy and did not start calling himself Oliver until his father died. He was brought up in Harlem, Georgia and went on to study law at Georgia State University. A gifted singer from an early age, he also studied at the Atlanta Conservatory. Fascinated by the medium of films he moved to Florida where he worked as a jobbing actor1 with various film companies including Gaumont and Pathé. In 1917 he appeared in a film called The Lucky Dog alongside Stan Laurel. They went their separate ways until Ollie joined the Hal Roach company and, after 11 features together, became an official double act.

Oliver Hardy’s personal life was difficult to say the least. He was married three times and the first two times, to Madelyn Saloshin and Mytre Reeves, ended in divorce. The latter marriage was particularly unhappy as Reeves suffered from addictions and depression, which Oliver found difficult to deal with. His last marriage, however, was a true love match. He met Lucille Jones on the set of The Flying Deuces and married her in 1940. The marriage lasted until he died of a stroke in 1957.

(This info is taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A733763 – Harshad Joshi)