Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born in Ulverston, which was then in Lancashire but now lies in Cumbria, on the 16th of June 1890 the second of five children to theatre owner Arthur Jefferson and Actress Margaret Jefferson (nee Metcalf) in his Grandparents house, on a small terrace called Foundry Cottages, the name being later changed to Argyll Street.
Stan, unlike the rest of his siblings stayed in Ulverston with his grandparents until he was six, before entering education in Gainford. Stan later went to school in Bishop Auckland, Tynemouth and finally Glasgow where he completed his education at the first possible opportunity and went to work for his father in the Metropole Theatre, in the box office.
Stan however had other things in mind and when he was 16 he approached Mr Albert. E. Pickard for a ‘try on’ in his theatre / side show / museum. Stan got a try and as he looked out at the audience on that first night saw his dad at the back of the hall.
The act went down reasonably well and Stan was on top of the world. Until the realisation hit him, he was going to have to face his father who wanted Stan to go into theatre management. ‘A. J.’, as it turned out, whilst not exactly encouraging was not as set against the idea as Stan had thought and, in 1907 Stan entered the first of a number of travelling groups at the grand salary of one pound a week.
Later, Stan joined Fred Karno’s travelling performers (known to some as Fred Karno’s Barmy army) as a bit player and eventually understudy to Charlie Chaplin. In 1910 after successful tours all over Britain the troupe went to America. It was here that Stan, after leaving the group started to write his own material and, along with some other actors who had left with him started touring with his own acts.
Around this time Stan had started to use his own name, shortened to Stan Jefferson, which he noticed had thirteen letters in it. Being mildly superstitious he decided to change his last name to Laurel.
In 1917 Stan was offered a movie to be called Nuts in May, which led to a number of other films for Universal until a reorganisation meant that his contract was not renewed, forcing him back to the stage until he got the opportunity to work with Hal Roach. Stan acted in, wrote gags for, and directed many films for roach, including The Lucky Dog in around 1920 in which he co-starred with Oliver Hardy.
Laurel and Hardy later became a team and worked with each other until 1950 making over one hundred films and hundreds of thousands of people laugh.
Norvell Hardy was born on the 18th of January 1892 in Harlem, Georgia barely 11 months before his father’s death. His mother, Emily moved to Madison, then on to Atlanta before settling in Milledgeville where she took over the running of the Baldwin Hotel, it was here that Norvell took up the habit he later referred to as ‘lobby watching’, observing the guest’s mannerisms and characters.
When he was eight years old Norvell ran away from home to join a minstrel group and although he soon returned home the love of performing never left him, neglecting school and running errands for the guests at the hotel he saved money to go to see shows. His mother sent him to military school from which he promptly ran away to Atlanta in 1906.
Norvell’s mother soon caught up with him but he would not go back to school so she let him stay on in Atlanta to study singing. Even this was not enough and he started singing to slides in a movie house for fifty cents a day.
In 1910 Norvell opened the first movie theatre in Milledgeville and ran it until 1913 when he heard about some film makers in Florida and moved to Jacksonville. In Jacksonville, Norvell sang in the evenings and spent his days following film crews in the hope that he might get some work. One day the crew needed a ‘heavy’ for a film and as Norvell had been around for a while he was hired to work for Lubin.
Apart from two stints in New York Norvell worked in Florida until in 1918 he heard of the film boom in California and moved there, working with amongst others Larry Semon and eventually Hal Roach where, after adding the Oliver to his name, played many more comic ‘heavy’ roles and met a young comedian named Stan Laurel, working with him until 1950.
The Lucky Dog
Forty-Five Minutes From Hollywood
Duck Soup, Slipping Wives, Love ‘Em and Weep, Why Girls Love Sailors, With Love and Hisses, Sugar Daddies, Sailors Beware!, The second Hundred Years, Now I’ll Tell One, Call of the cuckoos, Hats Off, Do Detectives Think, Putting Pants On Phillip, The Battle of the Century
Leave ‘Em Laughing, Flying Elephants, The Finishing Touch, From Soup To Nuts, You’re Darn Tootin’, Their Purple Moment, Should Married Men Go Home?, Early to Bed, Two Tars, Habeas Corpus, We Faw Down
Liberty, Wrong Again, That’s My Wife, Big Buisness, Unaccustomed As We Are, Double Whoopee, Berth Marks, Men ‘O’ War, Perfect Day, They Go Boom, Bacon Grabbers, The Hoose-Gow, The Hollywood Review of 1929, Angora Love
Night Owls, Blotto, Brats, Below Zero, The Rouge Song, Hog Wild, The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case, Another Fine Mess
Be Big, Chickens Come Home, The Stolen Jools, Laughing Gravy, Our Wife, Pardon Us, Come Clean, One, Good Turn, Beau Hunks, On the Loose
Helpmates, Any Old Port, The Music Box, The Chimp, County Hospital, Scram!, Pack up Your Troubles, Towed in a Hole, Their First Mistake
Twice Two, Me and My Pal, Fra Diavolo, The Midnight Patrol, Busy Bodies, Wild Poses, Dirty Work, Sons of the Desert
Oliver the Eighth, Hollywood Party, Going Bye Bye, Them Thar Hills, Babes in Toyland, The Live Ghost
Tit for Tat, The Fixer Uppers, Thicker Than Water, Bonnie Scotland
The Bohemian Girl, On the Wrong Trek, Our Relations
Way Out West, Pick a Star
Swiss Miss, Block Heads
The Flying Deuces
A Chump at Oxford, Saps at Sea
A-Haunting we will Go
Tree in a Test Tube, Air raid Wardens, Jitterbugs, The Dancing Masters
The Big Noise
Nothing But Trouble, The Bullfighters