Stan Laurel filmography and biography
Date of birth: 16 June 1890, Ulverston, Cumbria, England, UK
Date of death: 23 February 1965, Santa Monica, California, USA (heart attack)
Stan Laurel biography
Stan Laurel came from a theatrical family, his father was an actor and
theatre manager, and he made his stage debut at the age of 16 at
Pickard's Museum, Glasgow. He traveled with Fred Karno's
vaudeville company to the United States in 1910 and again in 1913.
While with that company he was Charles Chaplin's understudy, and
he performed imitations of Chaplin. On a later trip he remained in the
United States, having been cast in a two-reel comedy,
Nuts in May (not released until 1918). There followed a
number of shorts for Metro, Hal Roach (I) Studios, then
Universal, then back to Roach in 1926. His first two-reeler with
Oliver Hardy was 45 Minutes from Hollywood. Their
first release through MGM was Sugar Daddies and the first
with star billing was From Soup to Nuts. Their first
feature-length starring roles were in Pardon Us. Their
work became more production-line and less popular during the war years,
especially after they left Roach and MGM for Twentieth Century-Fox.
Their last movie together was The Bullfighters except for
a dismal failure made in France several years later
(Atoll K). In 1960 he was given a special Oscar "for his
creative pioneering in the field of cinema comedy". He died five years
Stan Laurel was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson on the 16th of June in
Ulverston, Cumbria in England, 1890. His father was a vaudeville
performer and this led Arthur to being a stage performer too. He didn't
get much schooling and this led to the joining of Fred Karno's
Troupe where Arthur understudied the future star,
Charles Chaplin. In 1912 they went on a tour to America where
Chaplin remained, but Stan went straight back to England. In 1916 he
returned to the States and did an impersonation of Charlie Chaplin and
the act was called "The Keystone Trio" and it was quite successful.
In 1917 Stan made his first movie entitled Nuts in May and at the first screening among the people in the audience were Chaplin himself and producer Carl Laemmle who were both impressed. This led onto more short comedies with such greats as 'Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson' , Larry Semon, and Hal Roach (I). Stan now changed his surname to Laurel thus given the name Stan Laurel. In 1917 Laurel had in fact appeared in a film called The Lucky Dog with an actor in the cast by the name of Babe Hardy. They formed a friendship but not a very good one. Stan later said they did not see each other for another 2 or 3 years.
It was in 1925 that Hardy and Laurel had met again at the Hal Roach studios and at that point in time Laurel was directing movies at the studio with Hardy in the cast for a couple of years. Among these films were Yes, Yes, Nanette and Wandering Papas written & directed by Stan Laurel and starring Babe who now acted under his real name, Oliver Hardy. In 1926 they began appearing together but not yet as a team. One of the directors at the Hal Roach studio known around the world as director of such great movies The Bells of St. Marys and Going My Way, Leo McCarey joined these comic geniuses and an immediate partnership unfolded. Laurel & Hardy had appeared as funny as they could be in Putting Pants on Philip which led them to stardom. They made films for another 20 years. Laurel & Hardy are now known as one of the best comedy teams. They retired from films in 1950 but Stan & Oliver went on a tour of England and appeared in many stage shows for years.
Stan Laurel trivia
- His light blue eyes almost ended his movie career before it began. Until the early 1920s, filmmakers used black-and-white Orthochromatic film stock, which was "blue blind." Hal Roach (I) cameraman George Stevens (I) (the same George Stevens who would later become an acclaimed producer/director) knew of panchromatic film and was able to get a supply of it from Chicago. This new film was sensitive to blue and recorded Laurel's pale blue eyes in a more natural way. Stevens became Laurel's cameraman on his short films at Roach. When Laurel teamed with Oliver Hardy, the team made Stevens their cameraman of choice.
- Only son died 9 days after birth in 1930.
- Laurel first appeared with his future partner, Oliver Hardy, in The Lucky Dog, which was filmed in 1919, but not released until 1921.
- He always thought that his "whining face" was humiliating, but the producers forced him to do it in most of his movies since the public loved it.
- Interred at Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, USA.
- Suffered a nervous breakdown on the death of his long time film partner and friend, Oliver Hardy, and according to his friends, never fully recovered.
- Turned down a cameo part in Stanley Kramer''s gigantic farce Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.
- He had always been a fan of westerns, and after he became a success, his company, Stan Laurel Productions, financed a series of low-budget musical westerns starring singing cowboy Fred Scott (I). The films were made for and released by the independent Spectrum Pictures rather than Hal Roach Studios, which made Laurel's and Oliver Hardy's films, or MGM, which released them. The Scott westerns seldom, if ever, made any money, but Laurel's enthusiasm for them never waned until his accountants showed him that they were getting to be a major drain on his finances, at which time he reluctantly dropped his participation.
- Subject on one of five 29¢ US commemorative postage stamps celebrating famous comedians, issued in booklet form 29 August 1991. He is shown with his partner Oliver Hardy. The stamp designs were drawn by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. The other comedians honored in the set are Edgar Bergen (with alter ego Charlie McCarthy); Jack Benny; Fanny Brice; and Bud Abbott and Lou Costello (I).
- Appears on sleeve of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.
- He and Mae Laurel lived as a common-law couple, as Mae was legally married to someone in her native Australia when she met Stan in 1918. They parted in 1925 by mutual consent and Mae returned to Australia.
- At the time of Oliver Hardy's death in 1957, Stan was too ill to attend his late partner's funeral.
- Had said that out of all the impersonations done of him, he liked actor Dick Van Dyke's the best. Van Dyke even got to perform that impersonation on one of the episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show and after it premiered, he called Laurel to ask his opinion. Laurel said he liked everything but one detail, the hat wasn't right. Van Dyke said he found Laurel's number in a Santa Monica, CA, phone book.
- His and Oliver Hardy's films had and still have great success in Italy, where they are known as "Stallio and Ollio.".
- He was voted, along with comedy partner Oliver Hardy, the 45th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
- The death of his partner Oliver Hardy left him a broken man, so much so that he fell into a deep depression and swore never to do comedy again. He didn't. In the eight years between Hardy's death and his own, he repeatedly turned down offers to do public appearances.
- He and Oliver Hardy have been and continue to be very popular in Germany under the name of "Dick und Doof" (Fatty and Stupid).
- Father of Lois Laurel, who appeared with him in The Chimp.
- Fell off a platform and tore ligaments in his right leg during the filming of Babes in Toyland.
- An extra named John Wood (II) from the film Babes in Toyland sued him and his stunt double, Ham Kinsey, claiming back injuries after Laurel and Kinsey threw him in the ducking pond on the set. The lawsuit specified $40,500 in damages, but was settled out-of-court.
- Is portrayed by Jim Plunkett (I) in Harlow (1965/II).
- Dick Van Dyke delivered the eulogy at Laurel's funeral.
- He was greatly admired by Jerry Lewis (I). When Lewis had his own production company in the early 1960s, he repeatedly tried to hire Stan for his creative team. Stan refused, despite the impressive salary. According to Lewis, he would send scripts to Stan who would read them and write suggestions in the margins.
- Portrayed by Matthew Cottle in Chaplin.
- Stan was greatly admired by Peter Sellers. Sellers claimed that the "Laurel" character was his inspiration when he created the "gardener" character in Being There.
- While rarely credited as a writer or director, he was the driving creative force behind the team of he and Oliver Hardy--whenever Hardy was asked a question about a gag, story idea, plot line, etc., he always pointed to Laurel and said, "Ask Stan." Laurel often worked well into the night, writing and editing their films.
- In his later years he was arguably the most approachable of all movie stars, keeping his phone number in the phone book, welcoming all sorts of visitors, and responding to his fan mail personally.
- His partner Oliver Hardy was an inveterate golfer, often setting up his own little putting green on the set so he could practice between takes. Laurel once joked to a reporter interviewing him that golf was Hardy's only "bad habit". When the reporter asked if he had any bad habits, Laurel--who had been married and divorced five times--replied, "Yes, and I married them.".
- Suffered a stroke in June 1955.
- Although Stan is recorded as being born in Ulverston Cumbria, he never knew it. He was actually born in Ulverston Lancashire. Ulverston became part of Cumbria under the 'Local Government Act 1972' and became part of Cumbria two years later in 1974; nine years after Stan died.
- A comedian until the very last, Stan Laurel, just minutes away from death on February 23, 1965, told his nurse he would not mind going skiing right at that very moment. Somewhat taken aback, the nurse replied that she was not aware that he was a skier. "I'm not," said Stan, "I'd rather be doing that than have all these needles stuck into me!" A few minutes later the nurse looked in on him again and found that Stan had quietly passed away.
- He was a staunch Democrat.
- In his later years he was a close friend of Dick Van Dyke.
- He was a heavy smoker until he suddenly gave up when he was about seventy.
- Laurel insisted that the quote attributed to him, "You know my hobbies; I married them all" was actually dreamed up by the publicity department.
Stan Laurel quotes
- If any of you cry at my funeral, I'll never speak to you again!
- A friend once asked me what comedy was. That floored me. What is comedy? I don't know. Does anybody? Can you define it? All I know is that I learned how to get laughs, and that's all I know about it. You have to learn what people will laugh at, then proceed accordingly.
- [on Oliver Hardy's death] The world has lost a comic genius. I've lost my best friend.
- Crazy humor was always my type of humor, but it's the quiet kind of craziness I like. The rough type of nut humor like The Marx Brothers I could never go for.
- [about the eight films he and Oliver Hardy made at 20th Century-Fox in the 1940s] We had no say on those films, and it sure looked it.
- What business do we have telling people who to vote for? They probably know more about it than we do.
- Dick is a very clever comic, very talented, he does resemble me facially but thats about all, firstly, he is much taller and his mannerisms are entirely his own style. I enjoyed very much meeting him, a very interesting chap. - On Dick Van Dyke
- [On the death of Oliver Hardy] Ben Shipman called me the day before and told me Babe had taken a turn for the worse and the end was expected any hours, even knowing this, the final news came as a shock to me. However, I think it was a blessing - poor fellow must have been really suffering (they discovered recently he had a bad cancer condition), so under the circumstances there was no hope of his ever recovering. What a tragic end to such a wonderful career.