Laurel & Hardy
Born June 16, 1890 – Ulverston, Lancashire, England
Born January 18, 1892 – Harlem, Georgia
One was from the north of England, the other from the American south, and together they would combine to become one of the greatest duos in comedy history. Film veterans long before they were teamed, Laurel having more than 50 features under his belt, Hardy more than 250 shorts to his credit, the first time they worked on the same film together was in The Lucky Dog (1921), and would finally be placed together as a team for Putting Pants On Philip (1927).
Known for their style of slapstick and physical comedy, something that helped them ease from the silent era into taking pictures, a running theme in their films were the tit-for-tat battles where some small slight would result in an escalating back and forth battle taking it to a hilarious out of control conclusion, as seen in Big Business (1929) where a disagreement between the pair and James Finlayson builds to the destruction of their car and Finlayson’s house. They also weren’t afraid to broaden a piece. If slipping on a banana peel or a pie in the face is funny, then witness The Battle of the Century, where a slip on a banana peel leads to a fight involving more than 3000 cream pies. And, of course there was Ollie’s catchphrase of blame “Well, this is another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”.
The films and their scenes are classics of the era. Their first talking picture Unaccustomed As We Are (1929), Sons Of The Desert (1933), Way Out West (1937), The Block-Heads (1938),and The Flying Deuces (1939). The Music Box (1932),with its iconic trying to carry a piano up a long flight of stairs scene, would win the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short, Big Business would be added to the National Film Registry as a national treasure, and Babes In Toyland (1934) would become a Christmas season classic. Their final film was 1951’s Atoll K whose last piece of dialogue was “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” followed by Stan’s nonsensical whimpering.
In later years the duo took to the live stage, their final performance taking place in May of 1954 at Plymouth’s Palace Theatre, and later that year they made their only American television appearance, a surprise interview on This Is Your Life.
Stan Laurel Died February 23, 1965 – Santa Monica, California
Oliver Hardy Died August 7, 1957 – North Hollywood, California