Laurel & Hardy

In July 1952, the Telegraph & Argus published a photograph of the famous comedians Laurel and Hardy taken in the Midland Hotel.  The beloved pair were appearing at Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre.

A reporter for the The Telegraph and Argus went to see Laurel and Hardy at the Alhambra on the 28th of July; here is what he had to say:

Telegraph & Argus, Thursday, 31 July,1952


Comedians partnership of 28 years


Laurel and Hardy have for years been my favourite film comedians. Theirs is a double act without a straight man; they both take their share of the custard pies.

It has been my experience that the straight man often becomes swollen headed, believes himself to be the main man, and then the act breaks up.

There has been no breaking up between Laurel and Hardy, who have been together for 28 years and made over 170 films in addition to their variety appearances.

We get the idea that a couple of people in a double act spend all their time together, both on and off the stage. Actually it is a business partnership. The partners, out of business hours have their own friends, own families and own recreations other interests.

In business they sometimes have differences of opinions and get angry with each other, but they carry on the business.

So it is with a double act; in fact I have known cases where the two members of an act refused to speak to each other off the stage.
Yet in the evenings there would be the same jolly laughter and happy back slapping as if they were the best pals in the world.
There has been nothing of that sort between Laurel and Hardy. They have remained good friends throughout the years.
Theirs has been no easy task keeping people amused. There could be no “stand in” in their case, no pretending to do daring deeds, while a stunt artist was actually taking their place. If a custard pie was thrown it was they who received it and just the same when anything else happened to them.

I was taken down to see them on Monday morning and I took with me a bundle of Karno programmes of visits to the old Empire, knowing that Stan Laurel had been in Karno’s shows.

Alas, he told me he had never visited the Empire, though he had worked with most of the people mentioned on the programmes, Fred Kitchen, Harry Weldon, as Stiffy the goalkeeper, Albert Bruno, Charlie and Syd Chaplin and the rest.

But if he didn’t come to the Empire in variety, he came to the Prince’s in melodrama. That was in his very young days when he appeared in a drama called “Alone in the World” with which Bert Cook, of “Fatal Wedding” fame had been associated.

Stan was born in the profession and cradled in a dress basket as it were. His father Arthur Jefferson Laurel, ran his own companies, and toured all Lancashire, Yorkshire and the North.

Stan was born when they were at Ulverston. He made his first appearance as a child in the famous drama “ Lights of London” by George R Sims, but broke into variety on his own account when in his early teens. He went to America in 1910 as a member of one of Karno’s sketches, and remained there to play in Vaudeville, and eventually to play in films, as comedian, scenario writer and director and it was while directing a film that he met Hardy.

Up to that time he had played under the name of Stan Jefferson, but when he and Oliver teamed up he changed his stage name to Laurel for euphonic purposes, Laurel and Hardy coming more “trippingly off the tongue” than Jefferson and Hardy would have done.

Oliver Hardy should have been a lawyer. He was a student of law at Georgia University and a popular one too, a keen football player and the possessor of a good singing voice.

It was his voice which drew him away from his law books and on to the stage.
He was heard by the manager of a minstrel troupe who was so delighted with his tenor voice that he invited him to join the company at a tempting salary.
Originally he was a straight singer, which meant really nothing at all to films in the silent days. Then he appeared in Jacksonville where the Lubin Film Company were wanting a man of just his build for a comedy that they were producing, and that was the start of it.

Eventually he reached Hollywood and then met Stan and so they have remained the best example of the entente cordiale between Britain and America that you can imagine for Stan still claims his British citizenship and Hardy is a loyal American.

They have twice been to England before this visit, once in 1932 when they paid a flying visit, and again in 1947 when they made an extended tour.

It was the time of the big snow blizzard when Oliver saw very little of our own country which was hidden under big snowdrifts.

They were then the pioneers of the big influx we have had recently of American film stars.

Stan and Ollie returned again to Bradford,  in March 1954,  when they again played the Alhambra, however they stayed at the Queen’s Hotel, in Leeds.