This post was originally lost in the Great Server Crash of 2010, but a draft copy has been discovered and recreated. We’re happy to reprint this column while Alfred Eaker continues his sabbatical (he’s been assisting on someone else’s film project, among other activities).
Stan Laurel and Oliver hardy were, without question, the most successful comedy team in Hollywood history. Not only were they artistically and financially successful but, unlike Abbot and Costello and Martin and Lewis, who pale in comparison, Stan and Ollie actually got along personally because they had a smart approach to their collaboration; for most of their career together they did not associate with each other off-screen.
Stan was certainly the creative end and stories abound about his dedication to his work (and neglect of his multiple wives). Stan often co-wrote the films, produced, co-directed and oversaw editing (usually uncredited). Indeed Stan and Ollie’s career together actually began with Stan directing Ollie in a number of shorts. For Stan Laurel, work was often from dusk til dawn.
Oliver Hardy had a much different approach. For him, work was essential, but it was still a 9 to 5 job. Once the day was done, he bid Stan and crew good-bye and went home to play sports with family and friends. Ollie was perfectly content with Stan being the creative end and whenever he was asked a question regarding the film work he usually said, “Ask Stan.”
It was not until the last few years of their career that Stan and Ollie got to know each other on a cruise to England. Both lamented that they had not done it earlier, but they both knew the value of their partnership. Upon Ollie’s death, Stan suffered a nervous breakdown and vowed to retire from film. Despite many offers of work, Stan kept to that promise until his death eight years later.
They both had solo careers before teaming up. Ollie’s early history was slightly more diverse Continue reading WAY OUT WEST (1937)