Laurel and Hardy

Stan Laurel would have been 130 this week.

He was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Ulverston which was then in Lancashire (now in Cumbria). He was a member of Fred Karno’s Army, where he became Charlie Chaplin’s understudy and the two of them travelled to the USA on the same ship. Stan began his film career in 1917 and four years later, the television director Leo McCarey teamed him up in partnership with Oliver Hardy and their first short was The Lucky Dog in 1921.

Between 1921 and their retirement in 1951, Laurel and Hardy appeared in 106 films together which consisted of 34 silent shorts, 45 shorts with sound and 27 sound feature films. Oliver Hardy died in 1957 and Stan, who was too ill to attend his funeral, never got over the tragedy. His phone number was listed in the phone directory and he often took calls from fans and chatted freely with them.

In 1961 he received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy. He was a heavy smoker all his adult life until he quit suddenly in 1960. He died in February 1965 aged 74 and is buried at Forest Lawn cemetery in Southern California. Dick Van Dyke read the eulogy at his funeral.

Here is a five minute clip from their 1933 short Dirty Work.

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