A look back at Laurel and Hardy; interesting facts, trivia about the duo

Updated: Dec 04, 2015, 11:49 IST | A correspondent |

'Putting Pants on Philip', the first film to feature the legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy as a pair was released today, December 3 in 1927. On this occasion, we present some interesting trivia, both popular and lesser-known, about Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy...

'Putting Pants on Philip', the first film to feature the legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy as a pair was released today, December 3 in 1927. On this occasion, we present some popular and lesser-known facts about Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy...

>> Oliver Hardy was actually born Norvell Hardy. He chose the father's first name calling himself Oliver Norvell Hardy during his career as a stage singer. Hardy's off-screen nickname, 'Babe' was coined by an Italian barber near the Lubin Studios in Jacksonville, Florida. He would rub Hardy's face with talcum powder and say "That's nice-a baby!" After this, Hardy was billed as "Babe Hardy" in his early films.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Pic/YouTube
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Pic/YouTube

>> 'Putting Pants on Philip' is not the first time that Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were paired up. Both were cast as separate performers in the 1921 silent short, 'The Lucky DOg'. After signing with Hal Roach film studio to individual contracts they were cast together once again (although in different roles) in the 1926 film '45 Minutes From Hollywood'.

>> The popular 'Simpsons' catchphrase, 'D'oh!' has its origins in the Laurel and Hardy films. Scottish actor James Finlayson, who appeared in 33 of their films would utter the now famous line in all his appearances.

>> Both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were accomplished actors before teaming up. Laurel had appeared in over 50 films while Hardy had been in more than 250 productions.

>> Stan Laurel made his big screen debut with the 1917 silent comedy short, 'Nuts in May'. He was billed as Stan Jefferson.

>> As a team Laurel and Hardy have appeared in 107 films, with the pair starring in 32 silent shorts, 40 sound shorts and 23 full-length features.

>> The Indian comedy duo comprising of actors, Nazir Ahmed Ghory and Manohar Janardhan Dixit, collectively known as, 'Ghory and Dixit', who were active in Indian cinema in the 1930s and 40s were called the Indian Laurel and Hardy.

>> The Sons of the Desert, the official Laurel and Hardy appreciation society, which was founded in New York in 1965 by the comedy duo's biographers, John McCabe, Orson Bean, Al Kilgore, Chuck McCann and John Municino with the sanction of Stan Laurel has over 150 chapters across North America, Europe and Australia. The organisation was named after a fraternal society in a 1933 Laurel and Hardy film of the same name.

>> Members of the legendary English band The Beatles used cut-outs of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in the cutout celebrity crowd for the cover of their 1967 album 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.

>> The signature Laurel and Hardy theme song, known variously as "The Cuckoo Song", "Ku-Ku" or "The Dance of the Cuckoos", was originally composed by Roach musical director Marvin Hatley as the on-the-hour chime for the Roach studio radio station. Stan Laurel requested it be used as the their show's theme song after hearing the tune.

>> Laurel and Hardy's first and only American television appearance took place on December 1, 1954, when they were surprised and interviewed by Ralph Edwards on his live TV program 'This Is Your Life'. Stan Laurel was apparently angered by being "tricked" into making the appearance without proper intimation.

>> Oliver Hardy was rejected for enlistment by the Army during the First World War due to his weight.

>> Laurel, who was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson, legally changed his name to Stan Laurel in 1931. He was collaborating with Australian actress Mae Dahlberg at the time and they were living as common law husband and wife.

>> From May 1925 until September 1926, Stan Laurel received credit in at least 22 films and starred in over 50 films for various producers before teaming up with Oliver Hardy.

>> In 1909, during his early years in showbusiness, Stan Laurel worked for Britain's leading comedy impresario, Fred Karno, as a supporting actor and as an understudy for Charlie Chaplin.

>> Stan Laurel found it hard to find diverse film roles as producers, writers, and directors found it taxing to write for his character with American audiences knowing him either as a "nutty burglar" or as a Charlie Chaplin imitator.

>> Oliver Hardy's first onscreen appearance was in the 1914 comedy film, 'Outwitting Dad'. He was billed as 'Babe Hardy' in the credits.

>> Oliver Hardy was inspired to become a comic actor after viewing film comedies and joined the Lubin Motion Pictures in Jacksonville, Florida in 1913. He started by helping around the studio with lights, props, and other duties, gradually learning the craft as a script-clerk for the company.

>> In total, Oliver Hardy has starred or co-starred in more than 250 silent film shorts of which roughly 150 have been lost.

>> Oliver Hardy did his signature 'tie twiddle' gesture for the first time in the 1927 film 'Sailors Beware'. Although the action would later become one of his trademarks he apparently came up with it by accident. Hardy, while acting, had been met with a pail of water in the face and just started to twiddle his tie, "to show embarrassment while trying to look friendly."

>> Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's final on-screen apperance was in the 1951 film, 'Atoll K'.

>> Stan Laurel had once famously quipped, "If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I'll never speak to him again."

>> Stan Laurel outlived frequent friend and collaborator Oliver Hardy. When the latter died of a stroke on August 7, 1957, Laurel was too ill to attend his funeral and said, "Babe would understand". Hardy was 65 at the time of his passing.

>> Stan Laurel was a heavy smoker until suddenly quitting around 1960, five years before his death from a sudden heart attack, which took place on 23 February 1965. He was 74.

>> The duo made 12 guest or cameo appearances that included the 1936 promotional film, 'Galaxy of Stars'. Following a resurgance in popularity in the late 1950s, merchandiser Larry Harmon, who claimed ownership of the comedy duo's likenesses, co-produced a series of Laurel and Hardy cartoons in 1966 with Hanna-Barbera Productions. His animated versions of Laurel and Hardy guest-starred in a 1972 episode of Hanna-Barbera's 'The New Scooby-Doo Movies'. A direct-to-video film titled, 'The All-New Adventures of Laurel and Hardy: For Love or Mummy' starring actors Bronson Pinchot and Gailard Sartain, who played lookalike nephews of Laurel and Hardy named Stanley Thinneus Laurel and Oliver Fatteus Hardy was released in 1999.

>> Numerous colorized versions of copyright-free Laurel and Hardy features and shorts have been reproduced by a multitude of production studios.

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