Laurel And Hardy
You can’t have a section dedicated to US comedy that was popular here in the UK without perhaps one of the greatest comedy double acts of all time: Laurel And Hardy.
I often feel lucky that growing up in the 1970’s, I got to see some of the best sitcoms made to date.
However, whilst the 1970’s is considered by many to be the golden age of sitcom, there were some real vintage treats screened on the BBC, usually on BBC2 around 6.00pm. These were American and included Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin and of course Laurel and Hardy, the latter of which were still being shown regularly during the 1980’s. Despite the lack of mainstream TV repeats the duo are as popular today as they ever were with their slapstick humour still evident in some of today’s comedy.
Laurel and Hardy began their career during the early 1920’s. The team was composed of thin Englishman Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and heavyset American Oliver Hardy (1892–1957). 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 pompous Hardy.
Before they became the much loved comedy duo both comedians had well-established film careers.
Laurel and Hardy first worked together as cast members on the film “The Lucky Dog” in 1921. It was six years later, in 1927, before they first appeared together as the main stars in a silent short film” Putting Pants on Philip”.
They would go onto appear in 107 films, starring in 32 short silent films, 40 short sound films, and 23 full-length feature films.
The peak of their career was of course the Hal Roach films that they produced until 1940. They then went on to appear in eight “B” movie comedies for 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1941 to 1945.
After completing their movie commitments at the end of 1944, they went on to perform in stage shows across Europe in the late 1940’s. In 1950, they made their last film which was a French/Italian co-production called Atoll K. before retiring from the screen.
In the early 1950’s the duo embarked on a music hall tour of England, Ireland, and Scotland. Their British Tour would be their last work together. Seven years later after a period of ill health Oliver Hardy died. Stan Laurel passed away in 1965.
Their movies were characterised by hilarious slapstick. From walking into planks hanging off ladders, this combined with some strange antics from Stan (flicking his thumb against his fingers to produce a flame) have kept audiences in histericks for generations.
TV Channel (UK): BBC2
Years Active: 1927 – 1955
Catch Stan and Ollie in cinemas today !