Mae Dahlberg

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Actress Mae Dahlberg as Pavaloosky, in a publicity shot from Mud and Sand 1922

Mae Dahlberg sometimes known as Mae Laurel, (24 May 1888, Brunswick, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia – 1969, New York, U.S.) was an Australian-born music hall and vaudeville performer and actress, later active in Hollywood silent films.[1] She was Stan Laurel's professional partner and common-law wife, from 1917 to 1925.

Childhood and career in Australia[edit]

She was born May Charlotte Dahlberg on 24 May 1888, in the inner Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, Victoria, Australia, to Louis, a labourer, and Mary Jane (nee Gundry). By 1905 she had begun to earn a reputation performing as a singer and dancer on the Australian stage, with positive reviews.[2][3] In 1906 she married baritone and fellow performer Rupert Cuthbert, while in Hobart, Tasmania.[4] A child, Rupert Clifton Saxe Cuthbert, was born of the union in 1908, in Melbourne.[5]

In about 1913, Dahlberg and Cuthbert sailed for the United States.

Career in the US[edit]

Dahlberg and Cuthbert's personal and professional relationship apparently did not last. While performing in a "sister act," in California, Dahlberg met and formed a variety act with Stan Laurel. In 1917 she played in a comedy short, Nuts in May, notable as the screen debut of Stan Laurel (credited as Stan Jefferson). Mae Dahlberg is credited as "Mae Laurel" in several of her films.

Though Stan and Mae never married, as professional partners they lived together as common-law husband and wife from 1917 to 1925. Mae maintained that it was she who suggested Stan change his name to Laurel.[6]

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; Rock thought 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.[7][8] Her last film had been Wide Open Spaces, made for Hal Roach in 1924 with Laurel and fellow Australian, Ena Gregory in the leading roles.

Dahlberg returned to the US a few years later however, and in November 1937 she sued the now successful Stan Laurel for financial support. The matter was settled out of court.[9] She was described as a "relief project worker" by the court.

Although Dahlberg appears to have lived in Melbourne again for some time during the 1940s, she returned to the United States again. She died in New York in 1969.



  1. ^ "Family History Search". Department of Justice & Regulation, Victoria State Government. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  2. ^ Critic, Sat 5 Nov 1910, Page 2, "Miss May Dahlberg" Accessed 2017-4-15
  3. ^ The Brisbane Courier, Mon 15 Jan 1912, Page 5, "Entertainments" Accessed 2017-15-4
  4. ^ Punch, Thursday 13 Jan 1910, Page 34, "Greenroom Gossip" Accessed 2017-15-4
  5. ^ "Family History Search". Department of Justice & Regulation, Victoria State Government. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  6. ^ Simon Louvish, Stan and Ollie, The Roots of Comedy, Faber & Faber 2001 ISBN 0-571-21590-4
  7. ^ Bergan 1992, p. 33.
  8. ^ The Sun, Tue 3 Mar 1925, Page 10 "NINE YEARS IN U.S.A" Accessed 2017-4-15
  9. ^ San Bernardino Sun, Volume 44, 7 December 1937, Page 4, "Stan Laurels in Agreement" Accessed 2017-4-15


  • Bergen, Ronald. The Life and Times of Laurel and Hardy. New York: Smithmark, 1992. ISBN 0-8317-5459-1.

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