Laurel and Hardy
Genre Double act
Format Short subject
Feature film
Created by Hal Roach
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
External links

Laurel and Hardy were probably the most popular and critically acclaimed comedy double acts of the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. Composed of thin Englishman Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and heavyset American Oliver Hardy (1892–1957), they became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy and childlike friend of the pompous Hardy.[1][2] They made more than 100 films together, initially two-reelers (short films) before expanding into feature length films in the 1930s. Their films include Sons of the Desert (1933), the Academy Award-winning short film The Music Box (1932), Babes in Toyland (1934), and Way Out West (1937). Hardy's catchphrase, "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!", is widely recognized.[N 1]

Prior to the double act, both were established actors, with Laurel appearing in over 50 films and Hardy in over 250 films. Although the two comedians first worked together on the film The Lucky Dog (1921), this was a chance pairing, and it was not until 1926, when both separately signed contracts with the Hal Roach film studio, that they appeared in movie shorts together.[3] Laurel and Hardy officially became a team the following year, in the silent short film Putting Pants on Philip (1927). The pair remained with the Roach studio until 1940, then appeared in eight "B" comedies for 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1941 to 1945.[4] After finishing their movie commitments at the end of 1944, they concentrated on stage shows, embarking on a music hall tour of England, Ireland, and Scotland.[4] In 1950, their last film was a French/Italian co-production called Atoll K, before retiring from the screen. They appeared together in 107 films. They starred in 40 short sound films, 32 short silent films and 23 full-length feature films, and made 12 guest or cameo appearances, including the Galaxy of Stars promotional film (1936).

  1. REDIRECT Template:Citation needed


One popular comedy routine was a tit-for-tat fight. Their silent film Big Business (1929), includes one of these routines, and was added to the Library of Congress as a national treasure in 1992. Notable Laurel traits include crying like a baby while being berated and scratching his head in a gesture of befuddlement. Signature Hardy mannerisms include "twiddling" his necktie in an effort to be ingratiating, and looking directly into the camera to register frustration, resignation, or mounting apprehension. On December 1, 1954, the team made one American television appearance, surprised by Ralph Edwards on his live NBC-TV program, This Is Your Life.

The works of Laurel and Hardy have been released again in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals, 16-mm and 8-mm home movies, feature-film compilations, and home videos since the 1930s. They were voted the seventh greatest comedy act in a 2005 UK poll by fellow comedians. The duo's signature tune, known variously as "The Cuckoo Song", "Ku-Ku", or "The Dance of the Cuckoos", played over the opening credits of their films. The official Laurel and Hardy appreciation society is known as The Sons of the Desert, after a fraternal society in their film of the same name.

Before the teamingEdit

Stan LaurelEdit

Main article: Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel (June 16, 1890 – February 23, 1965) was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Ulverston, Lancashire, England.[5] His father, Arthur Joseph Jefferson, was a theatrical entrepreneur and theater owner in northern England and Scotland, who, with his wife, was a major force in the industry.[6] Laurel was born into a family with theatre in its blood.[7] In 1905, the Jefferson family moved to Glasgow to be closer to their business mainstay, The Metropole Theatre,[8] with Laurel making his stage debut in a Glasgow hall called the Britannia Panopticon, one month short of his 16th birthday.[9] Arthur Jefferson secured Laurel his first acting job with a theatrical juvenile company, Levy and Cardwell, specialising in Christmas Pantomimes.[10] In 1909, he was employed by Britain's leading comedy impresario, Fred Karno,[11] as a supporting actor and an understudy of Charlie Chaplin.[12] Laurel said of Karno, "There was no one like him. He had no equal. His name was box-office."[13]

In 1912, Laurel left England with a Fred Karno Troupe, to tour the United States. Laurel expected the tour to be merely a pleasant interval before returning to London; however, he in actuality, emigrated.[14] In 1917, Laurel was teamed with Mae Dahlberg: they worked as a double act for stage and film and were common law husband and wife.[15] Laurel made his film debut with Dahlberg in Nuts in May (1917).[16] While working with Mae, he began using the name Stan Laurel, changing his name legally in 1931.[17] Dahlberg held Laurel's career back because she demanded roles in Laurel's films and her tempestuous nature was difficult to work with; dressing room arguments between the two were common, so film producer Joe Rock paid her to leave Laurel, and return to her native Australia.[18] In 1925, Laurel joined the Hal Roach film studio as a director and writer, and between May 1925 and September 1926, he was credited in at least 22 films.[19] Laurel starred in over 50 films for various producers before teaming up with Hardy.[20] Without Hardy, he experienced only modest success because it was difficult for producers, writers, and directors to write for his character, and American audiences knew him either as a "nutty burglar" or as a Charlie Chaplin imitator.[21]

Oliver HardyEdit

Main article: Oliver Hardy

Oliver Hardy (January 18, 1892 – August 7, 1957) was born Norvell Hardy in Harlem, Georgia.[22] He took his father's first name, calling himself "Oliver Norvell Hardy".[23] His offscreen nicknames were "Ollie" and "Babe". Hardy's nickname "Babe" originated from an Italian barber near the Lubin Studios in Jacksonville, Florida, who would rub Hardy's face with talcum powder and say, "That's nice a baby!", which other Lubin actors mimicked.[24] Hardy was billed as "Babe Hardy" in early films.[25] By his late teens, Hardy was a popular stage singer, and he operated a movie house in Milledgeville, Georgia, the Palace Theater, financed in part by his mother.[26]

Seeing film comedies inspired an urge to take up comedy himself, and in 1913, he began working with Lubin Motion Pictures in Jacksonville. He started by helping around the studio with lights, props, and other duties, gradually learning the craft as a script-clerk.[26] Around that time, he married his first wife, Madelyn Salosihn.[27] In 1914, Hardy acted as Babe in his first film, called Outwitting Dad.[25] Between 1914 and 1916, Hardy made 177 shorts as Babe with the Vim Comedy Company, released up to the end of 1917.[28] Exhibiting a versatility in playing heroes, villains, and even female characters, Hardy was much in demand as a supporting actor, comic villain, or second banana. For 10 years, he memorably assisted star comics Billy West, a Charlie Chaplin imitator, Jimmy Aubrey, Larry Semon and Charley Chase.[29] In total, Hardy starred or co-starred in more than 250 silent shorts, about 150 of which have been lost. While in New York, his abortive effort to enlist in 1917 led his wife, Madelyn, and him to seek new opportunities in California.[30]



The first film pairing of the two, although as separate performers, took place in The Lucky Dog (1921). The exact date the film was produced is not recorded, but film historian Bo Bergulund dated it between late 1920 and January 1921.[31] The association was casual, based upon interviews given in the 1930s, and both had forgotten it entirely.[32] The plot sees Laurel befriended by a stray dog, which after some lucky escapes, saves him from being blown up by dynamite, while Hardy is a mugger attempting to rob him.[33] Several years later, both comedians separately signed with the Hal Roach film studio and next appeared in 45 Minutes From Hollywood (1926).[34]

File:Laurel and Hardy in Lucky Dog.jpg

Hal Roach was the most important person in their film careers; he brought them together as a team and paid their wages for over 20 years.[35] Charley Rogers worked closely with the three men for many years and said, "It could not have happened if Laurel, Hardy and Roach had not met at the right place and the right time."[36] Their first "official" film together was Putting Pants on Philip (1927).[37] The plot sees Laurel as Philip, a young Scots man newly arrived in the United States in full kilted splendor: after mishaps surrounding the kilt, his uncle, played by Hardy, tries to put him in trousers.[38]

Laurel said to John McCabe, "Of all the questions we're asked, the most frequent is how did we come together? I always explain that we came together naturally."[39] Laurel and Hardy were joined by accident and grew by indirection.[40] In 1926, both were part of the Roach Comedy All Stars - a group of actors of similar standing who took part in a series of films; quite unwittingly, Laurel and Hardy's parts grew larger and parts for their fellow stars diminished, because Laurel and Hardy were great actors.[41] The teaming was suggested by Leo McCarey, their supervising director from 1927 and 1930; during this period, McCarey and Laurel jointly devised the team's format.[42] After teaming, they played the same characters for 30 years.[43]

Although Hal Roach employed writers and directors such as H. M. Walker, Leo McCarey, James Parrott, and James W. Horne on Laurel and Hardy films, Laurel would rewrite entire sequences or scripts, have the cast and crew improvise on the sound stage, and meticulously reviewed the footage in editing.[44] By 1929, Laurel was the head writer. The writing sessions were gleefully chaotic; Stan had three or four writers who joined in a perpetual game of 'Can You Top This?'[45] As Laurel obviously relished writing gags, Hardy was more than happy to leave the job to his partner.[46] From this point, Laurel was the uncredited film director. He ran the Laurel and Hardy set no matter who was in the director's chair, but never felt compelled to assert his authority. Roach remarked, "Laurel bossed the production. With any director, if Laurel said 'I don't like this idea,' the director didn't say 'Well, you're going to do it anyway.' That was understood."[47] As Laurel made so many suggestions, not much was left for the credited director to do.[48]

In 1929, the silent era of film was coming to an end, and many silent-film actors saw their careers decline with the advent of sound.[49] Many silent film actors failed to make the transition because they decided their prime duty was to tell stories in words, and they misused sound through overemphasis, or poor recording techniques damaged films. Laurel and Hardy avoided this pitfall because they continued making primarily visual films.[50] They did not ignore sound, but were not ruled by it.[50] They proved skillful in their melding of visual and verbal humor,[51] and made a seamless transition to the talking era in their first sound film, Unaccustomed As We Are (1929). The title took its name from the familiar phrase "Unaccustomed as we are to public speaking".[52] In the opening dialogue, Laurel and Hardy began by spoofing the slow and self-conscious speech of the early talking actors, a routine they would use regularly.[53]

Laurel and Hardy's first starring feature film was Pardon Us (1931).[54] The most memorable Laurel and Hardy film is The Music Box (1932), the image of the duo forever pushing a piano up an endless flight of steps having stuck in the public consciousness for decades.[55] The film won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Subject in 1932.[56] While many enthusiasts claim the superiority of The Music Box, their silent film Big Business (1929) is by far the most consistently acclaimed.[57] The plot sees Laurel and Hardy as Christmas tree salesman involved in a classic tit-for-tat battle with James Finlayson, eventually destroying his house and their car.[58] Big Business was added to the Library of Congress in the United States as a national treasure in 1992.[59] Sons of the Desert (1933) is considered Laurel and Hardy's best feature film.[60]

File:Atoll k.jpeg

Babes in Toyland (1934) retains a timeless appeal and remains a perennial on American TV at Christmas.[61] Hal Roach spoke scathingly about the film and Laurel's behavior during the production. Laurel was unhappy with the plot, and after an argument, was allowed to make the film his way. The rift damaged Roach-Laurel relations to the point that Roach said that after Toyland, he no longer wished to produce Laurel and Hardy films, although their association continued for another six years.[44]

Hoping for greater artistic freedom, Laurel and Hardy split with Roach and signed with major studios 20th Century-Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. However, the working conditions were now completely different, as they were hired simply as actors, relegated to the B-film divisions, and initially not allowed to improvise or contribute to scripts. When the films proved popular, the studios allowed the team more input, with Laurel and Hardy starring in eight features through 1944. These films, while not considered the team's best, were very successful. Budgeted at $250,000 to $300,000 each, the films earned millions at the box office. The films were so profitable that Fox kept making Laurel and Hardy comedies after discontinuing its other "B" series.[62]

Laurel and Hardy made a final film together, Atoll K (1951), a French-Italian co-production directed by Leo Joannon, it was plagued by language barriers, production problems, and Laurel and Hardy's grave health issues. While shooting, Hardy began to lose weight precipitously and developed an irregular heartbeat, while Laurel experienced painful prostate complications.[63] Critics were disappointed with the storyline, English dubbing, and Laurel's sickly physical appearance.[64] The film was not a success, and brought an end to Laurel and Hardy's film careers.[63]

A number of their films were reshot with Laurel and Hardy speaking in Spanish, Italian, French, or German.[65] The plots for these films were similar to the English-language version, although the supporting cast were often native language actors. Laurel and Hardy could not speak a foreign language, so they received voice coaching for their lines. Pardon Us (1931) was reshot in all four foreign languages. Blotto (1930), Hog Wild (1930), and Be Big! (1931) had French and Spanish versions. Night Owls (1930) had Spanish and Italian versions. Below Zero (1930) and Chickens Come Home (1931) had only a Spanish version.

Most Laurel and Hardy films survive, and have never gone out of circulation permanently. Three of their 107 films are considered lost, not seen in full since the 1930s.[66] The silent Hats Off (1927) vanished completely. The first half of Now I'll Tell One (1927) is lost and the second half has yet to be released on video. In the operatic Technicolor musical The Rogue Song (1930), Laurel and Hardy appear in 10 sequences, only one of which is known to exist with the complete soundtrack.[67]

Style of comedy and characterizationsEdit

Main article: Laurel and Hardy: Style of comedy and characterizations

The humor of Laurel and Hardy was highly visual with slapstick used for emphasis. They often had physical arguments with each other, which were quite complex and involved cartoon violence, and their characters preclude them from making any real progress in the simplest endeavors. Much of their comedy involves milking a joke, where a simple idea provides a basis from which to build multiple gags without following a defined narrative.

Stan Laurel was of average height and weight, but appeared small and slight next to Oliver Hardy, who was Template:Height tall[64] and weighed about 280 lb (127 kg) in his prime. They used some details to enhance this natural contrast. 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. In contrast, Hardy's thinning hair was pasted on his forehead in spit curls and he sported a toothbrush moustache. To achieve a flat-footed walk, Laurel removed the heels from his shoes. Both wore bowler hats, with Laurel's being narrower than Hardy's, and with a flattened brim. The characters' normal attire called for wing collar shirts, with Hardy wearing a neck tie which he would twiddle and Laurel a bow tie. Hardy's sports jacket was a tad small and done up with one straining button, whereas Laurel's double-breasted jacket was loose fitting.

A popular routine the team performed was a "tit-for-tat" fight with an adversary. This could be with their wives—often played by Mae Busch, Anita Garvin or Daphne Pollard—or with a neighbor, often played by Charlie Hall or James Finlayson. Laurel and Hardy would accidentally damage someone's property, with the injured party retaliating by ruining something belonging to Laurel or Hardy. After calmly surveying the damage, they would find something else to vandalize, and conflict would escalate until both sides were simultaneously destroying property in front of each other. An early example of the routine occurs in their classic short, Big Business (1929), which was added to the Library of Congress as a national treasure in 1992, and a short film, which revolves around such an altercation, was titled Tit for Tat (1935).

One best-remembered dialogue routine was the "Tell me that again" routine. Laurel would tell Hardy a genuinely smart idea he came up with, and Hardy would reply, "Tell me that again." Laurel would attempt to repeat the idea, but babble utter nonsense. Hardy, who had difficulty understanding Laurel's idea even when expressed clearly, would understand perfectly when hearing the jumbled version.

While much of their comedy remained visual, various lines of humorous dialogue appeared in Laurel and Hardy's talking films. Some examples include:

  • "You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led." (Laurel, Brats)
  • "I was dreaming I was awake, but I woke up and found meself asleep." (Laurel, Oliver the Eighth)
  • "A lot of weather we've been having lately." (Hardy, Way Out West)

In some cases, their comedy bordered on the surreal, a style that Stan Laurel called "white magic".[68] For example, in Way Out West (1937), Laurel clenches his fist and pours tobacco into it, as if it were a pipe. Then, flicks his thumb upward as if working a lighter. His thumb ignites, and he matter-of-factly lights his "pipe". The amazed Hardy, seeing this, would unsuccessfully attempt to duplicate it throughout the film. Much later, Hardy finally succeeds – only to be terrified when his thumb catches fire. Laurel repeats the pipe joke in Block-Heads (1938), again to Hardy's bemusement - the joke ends this time by a match Laurel was using relighting itself, which Hardy throws into the fireplace, whereupon it explodes with a loud bang.

Rather than showing Hardy suffering the pain of misfortunes, such as falling down stairs or being beaten by a thug, banging and crashing sound effects were often used so the audience could visualize the scene for themselves.

Sailors Beware (1927) was a significant film for Hardy because it gave him two enduring trademarks. The first was his "tie-twiddle" to demonstrate embarrassment. Hardy, while acting, had been met with a pail of water in the face. He said, "I had been expecting it, but I didn't expect it at that particular moment. It threw me mentally and I couldn't think what to do next, so I waved the tie in a kind of tiddly-widdly fashion to show embarrassment while trying to look friendly." [69] His second trademark was the "camera look", in which he breaks the fourth wall. Hardy said "I had to become exasperated, so I just stared right into the camera and registered my disgust."[70]

Offscreen, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were quite the opposite of their movie characters: Laurel was the industrious "idea man", while Hardy was more easygoing.[71]

Final yearsEdit

After Atoll K, Laurel and Hardy took some months off, so Laurel could recuperate. Upon their return to the European stage in 1952, they undertook a well-received series of public appearances in a short sketch Laurel had written called "A Spot of Trouble". Hoping to repeat the success the following year, Laurel wrote a routine titled "Birds of a Feather" (in 1953).[72] On September 9, 1953, their boat arrived in Cobh in the Republic of Ireland. Laurel recounted their reception:

The love and affection we found that day at Cobh was simply unbelievable. There were hundreds of boats blowing whistles and mobs and mobs of people screaming on the docks. We just couldn't understand what it was all about. And then something happened that I can never forget. All the church bells in Cobh started to ring out our theme song ["Dance of the Cuckoos"] and Babe [Oliver Hardy] looked at me and we cried. I'll never forget that day. Never.[73]
File:Laurel and Hardy This is your Life.jpg

On December 1, 1954, the team made their only American television appearance, surprised by Ralph Edwards on his live NBC-TV program, This Is Your Life. Lured to the Knickerbocker Hotel as a subterfuge for a business meeting with producer Bernard Delfont, the doors opened to their suite #205, flooding the room with light and the voice of Edwards. The telecast was preserved on a kinescope and later released on home video. Partly due to the positive response from the television broadcast, the pair was renegotiating with Hal Roach, Jr. for a series of color NBC Television specials to be called Laurel and Hardy's Fabulous Fables. However, plans for the specials were shelved, as the aging comedians continued to suffer from declining health.[72]

In 1955, Laurel and Hardy made their final public appearance together, taking part in This Is Music Hall, a BBC Television program about the Grand Order of Water Rats, a British variety organization. Laurel and Hardy provide a filmed insert in which they reminisce about their friends in British variety. They made their final appearance on camera in 1956 in a home movie titled "One Moment Please". The film was shot by a family friend at Laurel's home; it includes no audio and lasts three minutes.

Under doctor's orders to improve a heart condition, Hardy lost over Template:Convert/lb in 1956. Several strokes resulted in the loss of mobility and speech. He died of a stroke on August 7, 1957. Longtime friend Bob Chatterton said Hardy weighed just Template:Convert/lb at the time of his death. Hardy was laid to rest at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood.[74]

Just after Hardy's death, Laurel and Hardy's films returned to movie theaters, as clips of their work were featured in Robert Youngson's silent-film compilation The Golden Age of Comedy. For his remaining eight years, Stan Laurel refused to perform, even turning down Stanley Kramer's offer of a cameo in his landmark 1963 movie, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. In 1960, Laurel was given a special Academy Award for his contributions to film comedy. Despite not appearing onscreen after Hardy's death, Laurel did contribute gags to several comedy filmmakers. Most writing was in the form of correspondence; he insisted on answering every fan letter personally. Late in life, he hosted visitors of the new generation of comedians and celebrities, including Dick Cavett, Jerry Lewis, Peter Sellers, Marcel Marceau, and Dick Van Dyke. Laurel lived until 1965, surviving to see the duo's work rediscovered through television and classic film revivals. He died on February 23 in Santa Monica, and is buried at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, California.[75]

Supporting castEdit

Laurel and Hardy's films included a memorable supporting cast, some of whom appeared regularly.[76]

  • Harry Bernard played bit parts as waiter, bartender and cop.
  • Mae Busch played a formidable Mrs. Hardy, and other characters, particularly sultry female pests.
  • Charley Chase, the Hal Roach film star and brother of James Parrott, Laurel and Hardy writer/director, made four appearances.
  • Baldwin Cooke played bit parts as a waiter, bartender and cop.
  • Richard Cramer appeared as a scowling, menacing villain or opponent
  • James Finlayson, a small, balding, moustachioed Scotsman known for displays of indignation and squinting "double takes", made 33 appearances and is perhaps their most celebrated foil.
  • Anita Garvin was a memorable Mrs. Laurel.
  • Billy Gilbert made many appearances, most notably as bombastic, blustery characters, and also notably in the classic The Music Box (1932).
  • Charlie Hall, who usually played angry "little men", appeared nearly 50 times.
  • Jean Harlow, the "Blonde Bombshell" had a small role in their short Double Whoopee (1929) and two other films, before her breakout stardom.
  • Arthur Housman made memorable appearances as a comic drunk.
  • Isabelle Keith, the only actress to appear as wife to both Laurel and Hardy (in Perfect Day and Be Big!, respectively)
  • Edgar Kennedy, master of the "slow burn", often appeared as a cop, hostile neighbor, or relative.
  • Walter Long played grizzled, physically threatening villains, similar to Richard Cramer.
  • Sam Lufkin appeared several times.
  • Charles Middleton made a handful of appearances, usually as an adversary.
  • Daphne Pollard was featured, mostly as Oliver's shrewish wife.
  • Charley Rogers, the English actor, appeared several times.
  • Tiny Sandford was a tall and burly man who played authority figures, notably cops.
  • Thelma Todd appeared several times.
  • Ben Turpin, the cross-eyed actor, made two memorable appearances.
  • Peter Cushing, well before becoming a star in many memorable Hammer Horror Films, made an appearance in A Chump at Oxford.


Main article: Laurel and Hardy music

The duo's famous signature tune, known variously as "The Cuckoo Song", "Ku-Ku", or "The Dance of the Cuckoos", was composed by Roach musical director Marvin Hatley as the on-the-hour chime for the Roach studio radio station.[77] Laurel heard the tune on the station, and asked Hatley to use it as the Laurel and Hardy theme song. In Laurel's eyes, the song's melody represented Hardy's character (pompous and dramatic), while the harmony represented Laurel's own character (somewhat out of key, and only able to register two notes: "coo-coo").Template:Citation needed The original theme, recorded by two clarinets in 1930, was recorded again with a full orchestra in 1935. Leroy Shield composed the majority of the music used in the Laurel and Hardy short sound films.[78] A compilation of songs from their films, titled Trail of the Lonesome Pine, was released in 1975. The title track was released as a single in the UK and reached #2 in the charts.

Influence and legacyEdit

File:Laurel and Hardy Silhouette.jpg
File:Laurel and Hardy Statue.jpg


The catchphrase most used by Laurel and Hardy on film is:

Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!

The phrase was earlier used by W. S. Gilbert in The Mikado (1885) and again in The Grand Duke (1896), was first used by Hardy in The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (1930). In popular culture, the catchphrase is often misquoted as "Well, here's another fine mess you've gotten me into." The misquoted version of the phrase was never used by Hardy; the misunderstanding stems from the title of their film Another Fine Mess (1930).[79] Numerous variations of the quote appeared on film. In Chickens Come Home (1931), Ollie says impatiently to Stan, "Well...." with Stan replying, "Here's another nice mess I've gotten you into." In Thicker than Water (1935) and The Fixer-Uppers (1935), the phrase becomes "Well, here's another nice kettle of fish you pickled me in!" In Saps at Sea (1940), it becomes "Well, here's another nice bucket of suds you've gotten me into!"

Another regular catchphrase, cried out by Ollie, in moments of distress and/or frustration, as Stan stands helplessly by, is, "Why don't you do something to help me?" And another, not-as-often used catchphrase of Ollie, particularly after Stan has accidentally given a verbal idea to an adversary of theirs to torment them even more; "Why don't you keep your (big) mouth shut?!"


"D'oh!" is a catchphrase used by James Finlayson, the mustachioed Scottish actor who appeared in 33 Laurel and Hardy films. The phrase, expressing surprise, impatience, or incredulity, was the inspiration for "D'oh!" as spoken by the fictional character Homer Simpson in the long-running animated comedy The Simpsons. Homer's first intentional use of "d'oh!" occurred in the Ullman short "Punching Bag" (1988).[80]

The Sons of the DesertEdit

Main article: The Sons of the Desert

The official Laurel and Hardy appreciation society is known as The Sons of the Desert, after a fraternal society in their film of the same name (1933).[81] It was founded in New York City in 1965 by Laurel and Hardy biographers John McCabe, Orson Bean, Al Kilgore, Chuck McCann, and John Municino, with the sanction of Stan Laurel. Since the group's inception, well over 150 chapters of the organization have formed across North America, Europe, and Australia. An Emmy-winning film documentary about the group, Revenge of the Sons of the Desert, has been released on DVD as part of The Laurel and Hardy Collection, Vol. 1.

Posthumous revivalsEdit

Since the 1930s, the works of Laurel and Hardy have been released again in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals (broadcast, especially public television, and cable), 16 mm and 8 mm home movies, feature-film compilations, and home video. After Stan Laurel's death in 1965, there were two major motion-picture tributes: Laurel and Hardy's Laughing '20s, Robert Youngson's compilation of the team's silent-film highlights; and The Great Race, a large-scale salute to slapstick which director Blake Edwards dedicated to "Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy". For many years, the duo were impersonated by Jim MacGeorge (as Laurel) and Chuck McCann (as Hardy) in children's TV shows and television commercials for various products.[82]

The two Laurel and Hardy museums are in Laurel's birthplace, Ulverston, United Kingdom,[83] and in Hardy's birthplace, Harlem, Georgia, United States.[84]

Maurice Sendak showed three identical Oliver Hardy figures as bakers preparing cakes for the morning in his award-winning children's book In the Night Kitchen (1970).[85] This is treated as a clear exampleTemplate:By whom of "interpretative illustration" wherein the comedians' inclusion harked back to the author's childhood.[N 2]

The Beatles used cut-outs of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in the cutout celebrity crowd for the cover of their 1967 album, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

A 2005 poll by fellow comedians and comedy insiders of the top 50 comedians for The Comedian's Comedian, a TV documentary broadcast on UK's Channel 4, voted the duo the seventh greatest comedy act ever, making them the top double act on the list.[88]

Numerous colorized versions of copyright-free Laurel and Hardy features and shorts have been reproduced by a multitude of production studios. Although the results of adding color were often in dispute, many popular titles are currently only available in the colorized version. The color process often renders the print into an unwatchable state, while some scenes were altered or deleted, dependent on the source material used.[89] Helpmates (1932) was the first film to undergo the process; it was experimented upon by Colorization Inc., a subsidiary of Hal Roach Studios, in 1983. Colorization was a success for the studio and Helpmates was released on home video with the colorized version of The Music Box (1932) in 1986. The technology for this process was inferior compared to today's digital colorization technology. There were numerous continuity errors and garish color design choices. However, the most significant criticism these versions received revolved around their editing: whole scenes were altered or deleted altogether, changing the character of the film.

Merchandiser Larry Harmon claimed ownership of Laurel's and Hardy's likenesses, and issued Laurel and Hardy toys and coloring books. He co-produced a series of Laurel and Hardy cartoons in 1966 with Hanna-Barbera Productions.[90] His animated versions of Laurel and Hardy guest-starred in a 1972 episode of Hanna-Barbera's The New Scooby-Doo Movies. In 1999, Harmon produced a direct-to-video feature, the live-action comedy The All-New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy: For Love or Mummy, with actors Bronson Pinchot and Gailard Sartain playing the lookalike nephews of Laurel and Hardy, Stanley Thinneus Laurel and Oliver Fatteus Hardy.[91]

Around the worldEdit

Laurel and Hardy are popular around the world, but often with different names, for example in Poland they are known as "Flip and Flap" (Flip i Flap), in Germany as "Dick und Doof" (Fat and Dumb)*, in Brazil as "O Gordo e o Magro" (The Fat and the Skinny)"*, in Sweden as Helan och Halvan *, in the Spanish-speaking world as "El Gordo y el Flaco", in Italy as Stanlio e Ollio*, in Hungary as "Stan és Pan" (Stan and Pan), in Romania as "Stan și Bran" (Stan and Bran), and in Denmark they are known as "Gøg and Gokke" (Gøg og Gokke),





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  3. Smith 1984, p. 24.
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  5. Louvish 2002, p. 11.
  6. Louvish 2002, p. 14.
  7. Louvish 2002, p. 12.
  8. Louvish 2002, p. 22.
  9. Mitchell 2010, p. 200.
  10. Louvish 2002, p. 25.
  11. Mitchell 2010, p. 159.
  12. Louvish 2001, p. 18.
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External linksEdit

Template:Laurel and Hardy Template:Laurel and Hardy filmography

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