Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy: The Double Life of Laurel and Hardy by Simon LouvishStan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have remained, from 1927 to the present day, the screens most famous and popular comedy double act, celebrated by legions of fans. But despite many books about their films and individual lives, there has never been a fully researched, definitive narrative biography of the duo, from birth to death.
Louvish traces the early lives of Stanley Jefferson and Norvell Hardy and the surrounding minstrel and variety theatre, which influenced all of their later work. Louvish examines the rarely seen solo films of both our heroes, prior to their serendipitous pairing in 1927, in the long-lost short Duck Soup. The inspired casting teamed them until their last days. Both often married, they found balancing their personal and professional lives a nearly impossible feat.
Between 1927 and 1938, they were able to successfully bridge the gap between silent and sound films, which tripped up most of their prominent colleagues. Their Hal Roach and MGM films were brilliant, but their move in 1941, to Twentieth Century Fox proved disastrous, with the nine films made there ranking as some of the most embarrassing moments of cinematic history.
In spite of this, Laurel and Hardy survived as exemplars of lasting genius, and their influence is seen to this day. The clowns were elusive behind their masks, but now Simon Louvish can finally reveal their full and complex humanity, and their passionate devotion to their art. In Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy: The Double Life of Laurel and Hardy, Louvish has seamlessly woven tireless and thorough research into an authoritative biography of these two important and influential Hollywood pioneers.
From the Archives: Film Comic Stan Laurel Dies at 74
Brennan, John Larrabee. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appeared together in 35 silent films, of which 33 were produced by the Hal Roach Studios between the years and They were not an established team with a vaudeville background, in the manner of most comedy teams of the day. Rather, they were film actors who just happened to appear in several films together. When they found themselves both employed on the Roach lot in , they along with James Finlayson, Charlie Chase and Edna Marion were part of Roach's "All Stars," a stable of comedy regulars who appeared in a variety of roles in dozens of two-reel comedies. Director Leo McCarey is the man most often credited with noticing the chemistry that always resulted when Laurel and Hardy shared the screen, and as being the main inspiration behind their permanent teaming.
It would seem as if the comedians were destined to reach greatness together, for it was fate that brought the two together with such spectacular results. In fact, their beginnings were very far apart. He was the ticket salesman, the projectionist, the janitor, and the actual manager of the place. It was and Hardy was only 18 at the time. There, in Jacksonville, a go-to place for actors in those days, he worked at night for a period of time as a cabaret singer, and during the day, he found work at the American motion picture production company, Lubin Manufacturing Company.
To mark the occasion, we contribute this post on the first leg of their career as a comedy team — the silent period. Some of these movies are among the highest attainments of comedy film-making and comic performance. We begin the survey in when the professional relationship began in earnest. This leaves out the earlier film The Lucky Dog , from five years earlier. To read about that bit of foreshadowing, go here. Now, the silent films:.
Stan Laurel, the skinny and bewildered half of the famed Laurel and Hardy comedy team, died Tuesday of a heart attack. He was An invalid since he had a stroke in , the lovable comic suffered a heart seizure Monday night and the fatal attack at p. His wife, Ida, and a nurse were at his side when he died in his small apartment at Ocean Ave. John H. Parrott, said the first attack was so severe that Laurel could not be moved to a hospital.
Reilly decide to delight the clerk with a bit of business. Dusting off an old routine, Stan bumbles his way through the lobby carrying way too many pieces of luggage while Ollie grows increasingly impatient. We never get anybody famous staying here. The film mostly focuses on the duo during a low point of their fame as they tour s England with a stage show. The movie opportunities have dried up and TV has yet to make them inescapable via reruns of their old movies that played in constant rotation for the next couple of decades. But even here, Laurel and Hardy need no introduction. And even today, Laurel and Hardy remain instantly recognizable: the big guy with the tiny mustache and the little guy with the vacuous expression, both wearing bowler hats that could fit a little bit better.