|Born||Arthur Stanley Jefferson
16 June 1890
Ulverston, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
|Died||23 February 1965
Santa Monica, California, United States
|Other names||Stan Jefferson, Stanley Laurel|
|Occupation||Actor, writer, comedian, entertainer, film director|
|Influenced||Dick Van Dyke, George Stevens, Fred Leedon Scott|
Virginia Ruth Rogers
(m.1935-1937; 1941-1946; divorced twice)
Vera Ivanova Shuvalova
Ida Kitaeva Raphael
(m.1946-1965; his death)
|Partner(s)||Mae Charlotte Dahlberg
Stanley "Stan" Laurel (born Arthur Stanley Jefferson, 16 June 1890 – 23 February 1965), was an English comic actor, writer and film director, famous as one half of the comedy team Laurel and Hardy. Laurel began his career in the British music hall where he took a number of his standard comic devices: the bowler hat, the deep comic gravity, and the nonsensical understatement. He was a member of "Fred Karno's Army" where he was Charlie Chaplin's understudy. The two arrived in the US on the same boat from Britain with the Karno troupe. His film acting career stretched between 1917 and 1951 and included a starring role in the Academy Award winning film The Music Box (1932).
In 1961, Laurel was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd. In a 2005 UK poll to find The Comedians' Comedian, Laurel and Hardy ranked top among best double acts and seventh overall. In 2009, a bronze statue of the duo was unveiled in Laurel's hometown of Ulverston, Cumbria.
Early life 
His parents, Arthur and Margaret ("Madge") Jefferson, were both active in the theatre and always very busy. In his early years, he spent much time living with his grandmother Sarah Metcalfe. At the age of 16, with a natural affinity for the theatre, Laurel gave his first professional performance on stage at the Panopticon in Glasgow.
In 1910, with the stage name of "Stan Jefferson", he joined Fred Karno's troupe of actors, which also included a young Charlie Chaplin. The British music hall nurtured him, and for some time, he acted as Chaplin's understudy. Chaplin and Laurel arrived on the same boat from Britain with the Karno troupe and toured the United States. From 1916 to 1918, he teamed up with Alice Cooke and Baldwin Cooke, who became lifelong friends. Amongst other performers, Laurel worked briefly alongside Oliver Hardy in a silent film short The Lucky Dog. This was before the two were a team.
It was around this time that Laurel met Mae Dahlberg. Around the same time he adopted the stage surname of Laurel, at Dahlberg's suggestion.[N 1] The pair were performing together when Laurel was offered $75.00 per week to star in two-reel comedies. After the making of his first film, Nuts in May, Universal offered him a contract. The contract was soon cancelled, however, during a reorganisation at the studio. Among the films Dahlberg and Laurel appeared in together was the 1922 parody, Mud and Sand, of which a short clip can be seen at the left. By 1924, Laurel had given up the stage for full-time film work, under contract with Joe Rock for 12 two-reel comedies. The contract had one unusual stipulation, that Dahlberg was not to appear in any of the films as it was felt her temperament was hindering Laurel's career. In 1925, when she started interfering with Laurel's work, Rock offered her a cash settlement and a one-way ticket back to her native Australia, which she accepted. The twelve two-reel comedies were Mandarin Mix-Up (1924), Detained (1924), Monsieur Don't Care (1924), West of Hot Dog (1924), Somewhere in Wrong (1925), Twins (1925), Pie-Eyed (1925), The Snow Hawk (1925), Navy Blue Days (1925), The Sleuth (1925), Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde (1925), Half a Man (1925).
Laurel and Hardy 
Laurel went on to join the Hal Roach studio, and began directing films, including a 1926 production called Yes, Yes, Nanette. He intended to work primarily as a writer and director, but fate stepped in. In 1927, Oliver Hardy, another member of the Hal Roach Studios Comedy All Star players, was injured in a kitchen mishap and Laurel was asked to return to acting. Laurel and Hardy began sharing the screen in Slipping Wives, Duck Soup and With Love and Hisses. The two became friends and their comic chemistry soon became obvious. Roach Studios' supervising director Leo McCarey noticed the audience reaction to them and began teaming them, leading to the creation of the Laurel and Hardy series later that year.
Together, the two men began producing a huge body of short films, including The Battle of the Century, Should Married Men Go Home?, Two Tars, Be Big!, Big Business, and many others. Laurel and Hardy successfully made the transition to talking films with the short Unaccustomed As We Are in 1929. They also appeared in their first feature in one of the revue sequences of The Hollywood Revue of 1929 and the following year they appeared as the comic relief in a lavish all-colour (in Technicolor) musical feature, The Rogue Song. In 1931, their own first starring feature, Pardon Us was released, although they continued to make both features and shorts until 1935, including their 1932 three-reeler The Music Box which won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject.
Trouble at Roach Studio 
During the 1930s, Laurel was involved in a dispute with Hal Roach, which resulted in the termination of his contract. Since Roach maintained separate contracts for Laurel and Hardy that expired at different times, Hardy remained at the studio and was "teamed" with Harry Langdon for the 1939 film Zenobia. There was also talk about a series of films co-starring Hardy with Patsy Kelly called "The Hardy Family." But Laurel sued Roach over the contract dispute. Eventually, the case was dropped and Laurel returned to Roach. After returning to Roach studios, the first film Laurel and Hardy made was A Chump at Oxford. Subsequently, they made Saps at Sea, which was their last film for Roach.
Fox Studios 
In 1941, Laurel and Hardy signed a contract at 20th Century Fox to make ten films over five months. During the war years, their work became more standardised and less successful, though The Bullfighters, and Jitterbugs did receive some praise. Laurel discovered he had diabetes, so he encouraged Oliver Hardy to make two films without him. In 1946, he divorced Virginia Ruth Rogers and married Ida Kitaeva Raphael.
In 1950, Laurel and Hardy were invited to France to make a feature film. The film, a Franco-Italian co-production titled Atoll K, was a disaster. (The film was titled Utopia in the US and Robinson Crusoeland in the UK.) Both stars were noticeably ill during the filming. Upon returning home, they spent most of their time recovering. In 1952, Laurel and Hardy toured Europe successfully, and they toured Europe again in 1953. During this tour, Laurel fell ill and was unable to perform for several weeks.
In May 1954, Oliver Hardy had a heart attack and cancelled the tour. In 1955, they were planning to do a television series, Laurel and Hardy's Fabulous Fables, based on children's stories, but the plans were delayed after Laurel suffered a stroke on 25 April, from which he recovered. But as he was planning to get back to work, Oliver Hardy had a massive stroke on 14 September 1956 which made him unable to return to acting.
Hardy's death 
On 7 August 1957, Oliver Hardy died. Laurel was too ill to attend his funeral, stating, "Babe would understand". People who knew Laurel said he was devastated by Hardy's death and never fully recovered from it, refusing to perform on stage, or act in another film without his good friend. However, he continued to socialise with his fans. Laurel was described by his fans as a very nice man, with a sense of humour that will never be forgotten.
Life after Laurel and Hardy 
In 1961, Stan Laurel was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy. He had achieved his lifelong dream as a comedian and had been involved in nearly 190 films. He lived his final years in a small flat in the Oceana Apartments in Santa Monica, California.
Always gracious to fans, Laurel spent much time answering fan mail. His phone number was listed in the telephone directory, and fans were amazed that they could dial the number and speak to Stan Laurel. Dick Van Dyke told a similar story to Jerry Lewis. When Van Dyke was just starting his career, he looked up Laurel's phone number, called him, and then visited him at his home. Lewis was among the comedians to visit Laurel, who offered suggestions for Lewis's production of The Bellboy (1960). Lewis had even paid tribute to Laurel by naming his main character Stanley in the film, and having Bill Richmond play a version of Laurel as well. Van Dyke played Laurel on "The Sam Pomerantz Scandals" episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Laurel was offered a cameo role in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), but he turned it down. Laurel didn't want to be seen in his old age, especially without his comedy partner, Oliver Hardy, who died in 1957.
Personal life 
Laurel had a rich marital history. He had four wives and married one of them twice.
In 1928, during the early years of Laurel and Hardy's partnership, Laurel and first wife Lois had a baby girl, also named Lois, who married actor Rand Brooks. In May 1930, their second child, Stanley Robert Laurel, died after nine days.
In 1935, Laurel divorced Lois and married Virginia Ruth Rogers. In 1938, he divorced Virginia and married Vera Ivanova Shuvalova. By 1941, he had divorced Vera and re-married Virginia. In 1946, he divorced Virginia and married Ida Kitaeva Raphael, whom he did not divorce.
Laurel was a heavy smoker until suddenly quitting around 1960. In January 1965, he underwent a series of x-rays for an infection on the roof of his mouth. He died on 23 February 1965, aged 74, four days after suffering a heart attack on 19 February. Just minutes away from death, Laurel 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 Laurel, "I'd rather be doing that than this!" A few minutes later the nurse looked in on him again and found that he had died quietly in his armchair.
At his funeral, silent screen comedian Buster Keaton was overheard giving his assessment of the comedian's considerable talent: "Chaplin wasn't the funniest, I wasn't the funniest, this man was the funniest." Dick Van Dyke, a friend, protege and occasional impressionist of Laurel during his later years, gave the eulogy, reading A Prayer for Clowns.
Laurel had quipped: "If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I'll never speak to him again."
Laurel was interred in Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery.
In 1989, a statue of Laurel was erected in Dockwray Square, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, England where he lived at No. 8 from 1897 to 1902, and where the steps down from the Square to the North Shields Fish Quay were said to have inspired the piano-moving scene in The Music Box. In a 2005 UK poll, Comedians' Comedian, Laurel and Hardy were ranked top among best double acts, and seventh overall. In 2006, BBC Four showed a drama called Stan, based on Laurel meeting Hardy on his deathbed and reminiscing about their career. There is a plaque on the Bull Inn, Bottesford, Leicestershire, England, recording how Laurel and Hardy while appearing in Nottingham over Christmas 1952, stayed with Laurel's sister, Olga, who was the landlady of the pub.
In 1999, merchandiser Larry Harmon produced the direct-to-video film All New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy: For Love or Mummy starring Bronson Pinchot and Gailard Sartain as the descendants of the comedy duo. In 2008, a statue of Stan Laurel was unveiled in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, on the site of the Eden Theatre. In April 2009, a bronze statue of Laurel and Hardy was unveiled in Ulverston.
There is a Laurel and Hardy Museum in Stan's hometown of Ulverston. There are also two Laurel and Hardy Museums in Hardy's hometown of Harlem, Georgia. One museum is operated by the town of Harlem, and the other museum is a private museum owned and operated by Gary Russeth, a Harlem resident.
- Stan Laurel filmography (films of Stan Laurel as an actor without Oliver Hardy)
- Laurel and Hardy filmography (filmography of Laurel and Hardy together)
- Laurel disputes this and claims it just "sounded good."
- Van Dyke, Dick. "Stan Laurel's Eulogy." lettersfromstan.com. Retrieved: April 21, 2012.
- "Stan Laurel." The Nutty Nut News Network, September 8, 1975. Retrieved: April 21, 2012.
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- "Obituary." Variety, March 3, 1965, p. 69.
- McCabe, John. "Comedy World of Stan Laurel". p.143. Robson, 2005 Retrieved 18 June 2012
- Rawlngs, Nate. "Top 10 Across-the-Pond Duos." Time, 20 July 2010. Retrieved: 18 June 2012.
- "The Fine Mess-Maker at Home". New York Times. 7 September 2012
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- "Statue honours Laurel and Hardy.". BBC. 19 April 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- Midwinter, Eric. "Laurel, Stan". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2006. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- Bowers 2007, pp. 143–147.
- McCabe 1961, p. 18
- Ronald Bergan (1992). "The life and times of Laurel and Hardy". p. 33. Green Wood, 1992
- Bergen 1992, p. 118.
- "The Stan Laurel Correspondence Archive Project". Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- Western Section of the Los Angeles Extended Area Telephone Directory with Classified Section for Beverly Hills. The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. 1951. p. 217. Retrieved 8 September 2012. "Laurel Stan 1111FranklinSM...........EXbrk 3-1851"
- Brody, Richard. "Front Row: Jerry Lewis, Writer." New Yorker, May 5, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
- Harnisch, Larry. "Stan Laurel's stormy marriage full of off-screen drama." Los Angeles Times, 21 June 2009. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- "Stan Laurel." Find A Grave. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- "Correspondence: April 4–29, 1964." The Stan Laurel Correspondence Project via lettersfromstan.com. Retrieved: August 20, 2011.
- "Correspondence: January 4–29, 1965." The Stan Laurel Correspondence Project via lettersfromstan.com. Retrieved: August 10, 2011.
- "Stan Laurel Dies. Teamed With Oliver Hardy in 200 Slapstick Films-Played 'Simple' Foil." The New York Times, 24 February 1965. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- Bergen 1992, pp. 119–120.
- Holmes, Linda. "Dick Van Dyke Talks About His 'Lucky Life' And What Stan Laurel Left Him." NPR, May 10, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011.
- Levy 2005, p. 5.
- "BBC Four Cinema - Silent Cinema Season." BBC. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- "The Battle for Bottesford - the border town of Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire." Leicestershire Magazine, 31 July 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
- Roberts, Will. "Laurel proves Hardy after disaster delays: Statue of Laurel arrives in Bishop Auckland." thenorthernecho, 13 August 2008. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- "Hundreds attend Laurel and Hardy statue unveiling". The Telegraph. Retrieved 25 July 2012
- Bergen, Ronald. The Life and Times of Laurel and Hardy. New York: Smithmark, 1992. ISBN 0-8317-5459-1.
- Bowers, Judith. Stan Laurel and Other Stars of the Panopticon: The Story of the Britannia Music Hall. Edinburgh: Birlinn Ltd, 2007. ISBN 1-84158-617-X.
- Louvish, Simon. Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy. London: Faber & Faber, 2001. ISBN 0-571-21590-4.
- Marriot, A.J. Laurel & Hardy: The British Tours. Hitchen, Herts, UK: AJ Marriot, 1993. ISBN 0-9521308-0-7.
- Levy, Joe, ed. Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. New York: Wenner Books, 2005. ISBN 978-1-932958-61-4.
- McCabe, John. Babe: The Life of Oliver Hardy. London: Robson Books Ltd., 2004. ISBN 1-86105-781-4.
- McCabe, John. Mr. Laurel & Mr. Hardy: An Affectionate Biography. London: Robson Books, 2004, First edition 1961, ISBN 1-86105-606-0.
- Stone, Rob. "Laurel or Hardy: The Solo Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy." Temecula, California: Split Reel Books, 1996
- Okuda, Ted and James L. Neibaur. "Stan WIthout Ollie: The Stan Laurel Solo Films." Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 2012
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Stan Laurel|
- The Laurel and Hardy Forum
- The Laurel and Hardy Magazine
- The Official Laurel and Hardy website
- Stan Laurel at the Internet Movie Database
- Laurel and Hardy Museum, Ulverston
- The Stan Laurel Correspondence Archive Project
- The Laurel and Hardy Discussion Group at Yahoo!Groups
- Stan Laurel's Eulogy
- Stan's tempestuous love life