Laurel and Hardy: The Greatest Comedy Duo in History

On August 7, 1957, the world woke up to the shocking news of the death of Oliver Hardy who was one of the iconic comedians the world had ever known. The history of comedy can never be narrated without stating the achievements and contributions of Laura and Hardy. The duo dominated the industry for more than two decades up to 1955 when the two made their last public appearance.


(Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

“This is Music Hall” was the last television program that featured the duo in 1955. The two would remain out of public eye until 1956 when they again appeared in a three-minute clip from their private home. This time, Hardy lost more than 100 pounds (45kg) with a period of one year in what his private doctor described as a severe heart condition. The iconic comedian also suffered multiple catastrophic strokes that according to his private doctor resulted to loss of speech and mobility. His private house was sold in early 1957 to help settle his medical bill despite having a successful career. Hardy weighed 138 pounds (63kg) during his last stroke that resulted to his death on August 1957 and was laid to rest at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood.

Career Liftoff


(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

The Georgian international was born on January 18, 1892, in Harlem. His love for singing in his young age saw him perform in local theatricals while still in college. He later developed an interest in comedy and partnered with Laurel; this is what laid the foundation for his career as a successful comedian. His career officially started in 1913 in Jacksonville when he was working in a flourishing film industry where he acquired the name “Babe.” He spent his early career life in Florida and New York before settling in California. He first appeared in over ninety films playing as a support character before getting a serious role to play. By this time, Laurel was a music-hall comedian before they teamed up to become the famous comedian duo.

Hardy’s Style of Comedy and Characterizations


Comic duo Oliver Hardy (left) and Stan Laurel arrive at Southampton on board the liner ‘Queen Elizabeth’, 10th February 1947. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

There must have been something unique about Hardy and Laurel that made them so outstanding in such a competitive industry. It is not possible to independently isolate Hardy from Laurel when talking about any of their professional achievements. The duo used slapstick for emphasis and their ever constant arguments which brought out their ideal character. The use of cartoon violence which made them fail in almost every aspect of life is what excited the world. The duo was consisted and predictable in their application for simple ideas to milk jokes without necessarily sticking to a defined format. The wing collar shirts which was their usual attire was also loved by many and helped to bring out their characters better.

The Best Works for Hardy and Laurel


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This comedian duo made their jokes from simple life experiences and mistakes. There were no complicated jokes that would require one to think so much to understand. They used simple language and drama to entertain their followers. One of their most excellent works was the famous “tit-for-tat” which involved a fight with an adversary. This generally revolved around rogue neighbors who could not see eye-to-eye. “Tell me that again” was also a masterpiece that was celebrated by almost everyone back then. Other celebrated works are; Son of the Desert, Way out West, Pick Up your trouble, our relations, and Babes in Toyland.

Hardy’s Impact in the Comedy Industry


Jack Hill (1887-1963), US actor, Oliver Hardy (1892-1957), US comedian, and Stan Laurel (1890-1965), British comedian, in a colourised image issued as publicity for the film, ‘Liberty’, USA, 1929. The comedy short was directed by Leo McCarey (1898-1969) (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Many people believe that even Laurel and Hardy still have a significant influence on the industry. Critics feel that there has been very little done differently from what the comedian duo was doing more than two decades ago. This is proved by the fact that the work of both comedians continued to be celebrated even after their death. Of the two famous comedians, Hardy seems to have had a more significant influence in the industry than many people had thought. Laurel reported refused to perform after the passing of his friend and long-term partner Hardy had passed on. Many of their fans felt that no one could replace him in his role in the duo.

Significant Awards Won by Hardy and Laurel


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The celebrated duo featured in more than 200 films and won notable awards throughout their career lives. Up to 1952, the duo won numerous local awards in categories in which they featured in. They were awarded for being the best double acts in a poll conducted in the UK. In 2009, Laurel’s hometown awarded the duo with an honor of a bronze statue in Ulverston which is his hometown. The most significant award ever won by the pair was Oscar award for the “Best live action short subject” in 1932. In the same year, they won their first academy award for “Best Short Subject.”

Their Chaotic Love Lives


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The childish and innocent looks of the comedian duo made everyone believe that his or her lives were fun as it seemed in the real world. However, things were different full of disappointments, difficulties, and complications behind the scenes. During his life, Oliver Hardy married three different women without getting his dream partner to settle with. Madelyn Saloshin, whom he divorced in 1921 to get married to a young actress was his first wife. He later married Myrtle Reeves the young actress he wished for. Myrtle first incidence occurred in a hotel room where she locked herself up and threaten to jump in full view of reports, police, and fire brigade from a window. A divorce and Hardy followed this incidence went ahead to marry a single mother named Lucille Jones. This was an on-and-off affair until Lucille lost her son a few years later. She later crushed that day driving after taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Up to his death, his first wife Madelyn was still pursuing his wealth

Celebrating the Life of Hardy


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Laurel and Hardy remain top on the Hollywood’s earliest celebrated comedians of all times. He was laid to rest at Valhalla Memorial Park, North Hollywood and ever since the world still celebrates him. Among the top celebrations that are meant to honor this talented comedian include; the “Way out West Lent” which was the 30th anniversary meant to celebrate the duo and saw people travel from all over the world. A similar celebration was held back in the Los Angeles Area Tour back in 1997 which was carried out in two consecutive days. Other identical anniversary celebrations have been held across the world to remember this genius comedian.