They were comedy’s greatest duo, one of very few Hollywood acts that made a successful transition from silent to sound, and their influence is still visible and acknowledged today in the work of anyone who uses mime and physicality to deliver and enhance a joke.
It’s not humanly possible to learn much about Laurel and Hardy’s work and lives without falling completely in awe with who they were, what they achieved and of how much of what we call comedy today simply wouldn’t exist if Laurel and Hardy, along with Chaplin, Lloyd, Keaton and the women and men they collaborated with, hadn’t been there to invent it.
Laurel and Hardy – Stan Laurel and Oliver “Babe” Hardy – had the world at their feet in the early 1930s. But their contracts prevented them ever making the money that owning their own films would have delivered. And Hardy’s mild mannered persona made him far too much of a pushover to ever negotiate a better deal for himself.
And so it was that by 1953, with their film career a distant memory, the duo reformed to travel the British Isles for a planned couple of months, to raise some cash and maybe use the publicity to get a new movie financed.
It would be the last time they ever toured together.