“What’s funny? How do I know? Can you analyze it? Can anybody? All I know is how to make people laugh.” —Stan Laurel
“Ask Stan.” —Oliver Hardy
Words like these, can only have been spoken by the greatest comic duo in cinema history: Laurel & Hardy.
Two geniuses of laughter, endearing and best friends. I think these words of John Larrabee describe perfectly and with simplicity who were Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
“In an era where movie stars routinely command eight-figure salaries for six weeks’ worth of work, where top comedians travel with an entourage of bodyguards and sycophants, and where rock stars employ logistics managers and toadies to sort their M&M’s by color, it is perhaps difficult to envision a time in which two genuinely nice and humble gentlemen labored for forty-eight weeks out of the year, expecting nothing but a reasonably comfortable salary and a bit of laughter in return. To say that Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, both onscreen and off, represented human character at its best is no understatement. As men, they may have had their flaws, but an examination of their lives, either close or cursory, reveals them as kind and gentle souls. As screen characters, this kindness and gentleness is evident in even the roughest of their comedies. On film and in life, they were utterly incapable of pretense, and demanded from the world only what they had rightfully earned. On screen, if they received an occasional scrap of warmth and kindness, they were sincerely grateful for it. In life, they were loved the world over and were overwhelmed by it.”
This is the sad letter that Stan Laurel wrote just a few days after his friend Oliver Hardy died.
My Dear Friends [Bob & Marie Hatfield]:-
Many thanks for the nice card of sympathy, your kind expressions were deeply appreciated.
Even tho’ I had been notified the day before [that] my dear Pal ‘Babe,’ was’nt expected to last but a few hours, the final news came as a shock & upset me very much – being such close friends for over 30 odd years, it was really a great blow. However, in situations like this we must be sensible & face facts, he has been suffering very much these last few weeks & in terrible pain (Cancer condition), so I feel it was a blessing that he was taken out of his misery, am sure he would have wished it so – I am happy in a sense that he has gone to rest – sad as it is. I miss him more than anyone will ever know & feel quite lost, but I will forever cherish the wonderful memories I have of him & the many happy times we shared together In the past – God Bless Him, he certainly did’nt deserve such a tragic end.
My Dr. would’nt permit me to go to the services, so Mrs L & my daughter attended instead, it was a Masonic affair & beautifully conducted with many many friends & mourners, & banks of flowers filled the chapel, after which he was cremated.
Will close now, do’nt feel much in the mood for correspondence, am sure you will understand.
Mrs L joins in every good wish to you both & thanks again.