Introducing: Laurel and Hardy

I doubt many of my followers have heard or seen Laurel and Hardy, but to my mind they remain one of the funniest duos I’ve ever seen. Mind you, I’m not old enough to have seen them in person, but I did see some of their sketches on TV when I was a little girl. The Bluebird of Bitterness ( had a video of them dancing on her blog Friday, and that stirred me to go back and find out more about them.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

Let me introduce you:

Laurel and Hardy were a comedy team in the early classical Hollywood cinema. Laurel was  the thin Englishman Stan Laurel who paired with the heavyset American Oliver Hardy. They became well known during the late 1920s through the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the very pompous Hardy.

Their comedy is very typical of the simple, physical slapstick of the time – also a feature of the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, and later, Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. It sustained people both here and in England, during the dark days of the 1930s and 40s.

Their physical differences played out in their comedy routines. Stan Laurel was of average height and weight, but appeared small and slight next to Oliver Hardy, who was 6 ft 1in and weighed about 280 lb. They used some details to enhance this difference. Laurel kept his hair short on the sides and back, growing it long on top to create a natural “fright wig”. At times of shock, he would simultaneously cry while pulling up his hair. Hardy’s thinning hair was pasted on his forehead in spit curls and he sported a toothbrush mustache. Laurel walked flat-footed by removing the heels from his shoes, and both wore bowler hats, Laurel’s with a flattened brim. Hardy wore a neck tie which he would twiddle and Laurel a bow tie, and they contrasted their jackets. Hardy’s was always a bit small with straining buttons, while Laurel’s was loose fitting.

You can see this in these clips:

Laurel and Hardy appeared as a team in 107 films – 32 short silent, 40 short sound films and 23 full length feature films. Since the 1930s, the works of Laurel and Hardy have been released in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals, 8-mm and 16-mm home movies, feature-film compilations, and home videos, so their comedy is still making people laugh. There is even a Laurel and Hardy appreciation society called The Sons of the Desert, named after one of their films of the same name.

I dare you not to laugh watching this clip:

Thank you to the Buebird of Bitterness for this trip down memory lane. Visit this blog – she never fails to make me laugh!



32 thoughts on “Introducing: Laurel and Hardy”

  1. I watched some of their stuff when younger. Really only Babes in Toyland and one thing about them in the foreign legion. I heard that they’re doing a movie about them at some point. Forgot who is playing Laurel, but there’s a pick of John C. Reilly looking like Hardy. Hoping it’s a documentary and not what they tried with the Stooges.

    1. Knowing the wonders of Hollywood, it’ll be a movie. I’ve been pretty negative about most of the stuff coming from there – except for the few movies I review. John C Reilly is a good pick for Hardy, though.

  2. I used to watch old Laurel and Hardy movies as a child and they were a great comedy team. I always thought Jackie Gleason and Art Carney in the Honeymooners modeled themselves after Laurel and Hardy.

  3. I met my husband at a Sons of the Desert meeting. We honeymooned at the SOD Int’l Convention in Hollywood, July 1980. Lois Laurel was a friend of ours as was Ollie’s widow, Lucille. Many people might not realize that it was Stan was the brains of the duo. Ollie was a gifted comedian, perfect timing, etc. but once he finished a take, he was of to the golf course. Stan made sure every inch of the production came together. Stan was close friends with Charlie Chaplin. They came to America together. Whew! The memories you brought back. <3 Sons of the Desert are we….

    1. Wow, what great information! You need to post about that! Amazing how a blog reveals great stuff from the readers. I watched the “This Is Your Life” episode (their only American show) and also the last
      video of them together in the 1950s when Ollie had lost so much weight.

  4. I remember watching some of their programs as a kid. I’m not a huge fan of slapstick (I never cared for the Three Stooges) but for some reason, I really enjoyed L&H. Later, I discovered Martina and Lewis and loved their stuff too., Thanks for bringing a smile to my face with the memories.

    1. You’re welcome, Mae Clair! I loved Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis – I think they mirror at lot of Laure and Hardy. I like L&H much better than the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers.

    1. Definitely – but I think the more Laurel laughed, the more funny it got for both of them. Laughter is contagious. And how smart you are to study silent acting skills!

  5. Now, Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd and all of the Hal Roach actors including Spanky McFarland, and BIlly Gilbert are silently resting in the graves for all eternity (until the Second Coming of Christ).

  6. My father and I love Laurel & Hardy. We used to watch it together during weekends when I was a kid. You brought back all the fond memories I had with my dad! Thankyou :))

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