Ask Lois Laurel-Hawes

 
     

December 2009

I wish you a Merry Christmas and also to let you know how happy I was to finally discover this website. Since I discovered the Laurel & Hardy shorts, I've been admiring not only the comedic talent of the two stars and the wonderful supporting actors such as James Finlayson, but also some less mentioned elements such as the ingenious use of sound effects and the delightful music of Leroy Shield; not to mention the cinematic talent employed in their making. How stunning it is to realize that those movies invented a lot of cinematic tricks and gags that are actively used by movies and television even now. I also was dumbfounded when I discovered that
Hollywood "dinosaurs" such as George Stevens (director of Shane and Giant) and Leo McCarey, my favorite director of all time (The Awful Truth, Going My Way, An Affair to Remember), worked on Laurel & Hardy shorts in the beginning of their careers.

Now let me ask you a couple of questions:
- Do you have any memory of Leo McCarey, or do you remember any impression of him from L & H? As far as I know he not only directed some of the best shorts but also rose to a high rank at the Hal Roach studio.

- In case the L & H movies are released on Blu-Ray or again on DVD, have you ever considered (or already been invited to) record audio commentaries forany of them?

Matheus (Salto - SP - Brazil)

Dear Matheus,
 
Lois much appreciated your remarks and kindness. She was just a child when Leo McCarey worked at HRS, but she says, "My dad gave a lot of credit to Leo McCarey for his work at the studio guiding not only Laurel & Hardy but Charley Chase also. Dad always pointed out that McCarey himself said he was the one who learned from Chase, not the reverse. So that was generous and I am told typical of the man. I met McCarey only once when he appeared on THIS IS YOUR LIFE but he was so drunk I really did not say much to him! I know he was devoted to Hal Roach and they were close friends."
 
"Over the years lots of people have asked me to do commentaries and interviews, and I might do this sort of thing under the right circumstances."
 
Regards,
Richard

Hi Lois,

Do you have any pictures or drawings of Fort Laurel? As a kid I lived on keokuk near baltar (which butted up against the brick wall). My parents paid the owner (I think it was Henya Heidan) so that my brother and I could play there. I remember that there was a huge garden in front. In the middle there was a big grassy area with an enormous treehouse with stairs and a sandbox with a castle that had a statue (maybe of your dad). In the back there was a big pool and a trellis with grapes...

My parents still live in that same house on Keokuk. Today I took my kids for a walk around the block with my mother. That house and the grounds are long gone (I think that it was torn down in the mid 80s), but you can still see the two red brick walls on Baltar.

Anyway, it was a big part of my childhood, and I would appreciate any memories or pictures etc. that you can share.

Thanks, Mike (San Jose)


"Yes, the pool was in back, by a barbecue pit, in front of a duck pond. My Dad raised quackless ducks there! The pool had once been a fish pond. I think there are photos of Fort Laurel in the book by Jack Scagnetti. I have some snapshots of Fort Laurel somewhere. Somewhere, but where?! The place was torn down in the mid-1980s, and as I recall they built condos there.
 
"Dad called it by that name, a 'fort,' because he wanted to get away from the press and be protected from the press and also from Illeana. He had a seven foot wall erected to guard his privacy. He lived in Fort Laurel from maybe 1938 or 1939 through 1946 until he married Ida."

I was just wondering if Stan and Babe had any favorite hauntsor restaurants in L.A. and if any of them are still around?

Daniel  Brown (Long Beach,CA)


"They liked lots of places, but I speak more for my father than Babe, because it wasn't as though Babe was always with us on family trips to restaurants. But the favorites included Sportsman's Lodge on Ventura Boulevard in the Valley, the Brown Derby (that's gone), the Pig 'n' Whistle on Hollywood Boulevard (it's still there but the distinctive interior was sold to another restaurant around the corner), the Tam-O-Shanter in Glendale, and the House of Murphy on San Vincente north of Wilshire. We often went there for St. Patricks Day, but it's no longer there. We did not go to Chasens. We went to Clifton's Restaurant in downtown. There was a place on the Sunset Strip near Preston Sturges's restaurant, but I can't recall the name. And a big favorite was always Musso & Franks on Hollywood Boulevard. I took some friends there a year ago and got a kick out of sitting in the same booth way in the back where I once had lunch with my father and Charlie Chaplin!"

November 2009

I seen your dad on stage at the gaumont theatre north shields 1950 He went on to tell the audience that he remembered  north shields well and how he loved the north shields fishquay it was when he lived in dockwray Square north shielde and his father was manager of the tyne theatre The plaque is on the wall No 8 i think
and his statue is in the square. What age was he when he left North Shieds And do you think he being so young he would remember shields that well. We loved him then and still do
Best wishes

Alan (north shields)


"I would imagine my father was 15-16 when he left. And no, he never forgot the old country. He always spoke of his fond memories growing up. He never became a U.S. citizen, you know, even though he made his living here. So he never forgot his friends and his home."

October 2009

Hi Lois, I hope this email finds you happy and well.
I have a very simple question for you which I'm sure will not be as easy to answer......which was your favorite Laurel & Hardy film and why? Many thanks for taking the time.
Kind regards and best wishes.

Bob Roberts (Buntingford, England)


"My favorites are WAY OUT WEST and SWISS MISS. I tend to like westerns (as my father did) and also costume pictures. I was in SWISS MISS, but can never find myself in it. I have the stills to show people, but I think my scenes were cut out."

dear lois
a few years ago i read an article in the sunderland echo (north east of england) that your father had a sister ,that had married a t.v engineer and lived off roker avenue in sunderland,i know your dad had  many connection's
with the north east ,but is this tale true??.
regard's terry
p.s many thanks for the laughter and happiness your dad and ollie brought into this world


According to Lois, Stan Laurel's sister, Beatrice Olga, married a man named Bill Healy. He was a musician. She met him "on the boards," says Lois. The sister also had a boy friend at some point whose name was Usher. And finally, the sister did indeed live on Roker Avenue because Lois remembers seeing the street name on correspondence.
 
Regards, Richard


dear lois
after a bit research i see olga your dad's sister had a son huntley jefferson who's still alive and living in newcastle,have you's ever met????,because i read your only close relative is nancy wardle from yorkshire,surely huntley and yourself are full cousins,were stan and olga close?, and was your auntie olga invited to your dads funeral in the u.s, on that sad day,what year did your dad last see olga ?. im amazed the local media here have not made more of your auntie olga living and indeed passing away in sunderland. just seen your cammeo role in last of the summer wine on british t.v,very funny.(must run in the family)
hope you are keeping well lois,keep smiling,
regard's terry


"Yes, I stay in touch with Huntley, and yes, Olga and my father were very close. The reason she did not attend the funeral was that she would not fly. That was also the reason she did not come over to appear on THIS IS YOUR LIFE. Like a lot of people, she was averse to flying."


September 2009

I have been a huge fan of L&H since childhood, particularly their short films (I'm now 57).
I've often wondered how many "takes" of a scene they would do. Given that many scenes involved physical gags, I would think one or two takes, at the most, would be all "the boys" could handle.  Did the gags usually go smoothly or were there many retakes?
Are their any ad-lib scenes that made it into their films?
Also, could you give me some insight on what Anita Garvin (who I thought was gorgeous) and Mae Busch (who played the shrew to perfection) were really like?
Thank you.

Daniel  Brown (Long Beach,CA)


Dear Daniel,
 
Your comment about the punishment exacted by suffering through multiple takes of physical gags is discerning. I did discuss this answer with Lois, and she was a child during the 1930s, she was not studying what Laurel & Hardy were doing so much as playing in the wonderland where her father worked, so she cannot offer any precise info on how many takes different scenes required. From everything witnesses have told us, and Lois agrees with this, L&H worked fast, were really skilled at what they did, but often times props failed, or for some technical reason scenes had to be shot more than once or twice. Certainly there are ad lib or extemporaneous bits of business in their films, but who can spot them? L&H were so good, how can we tell the difference between what they planned and what they improvised as a function of props or animals or inspiration?
Lois did say that her father "thought the world" of both Anita Garvin and Mae Busch. Most of the roles Mae Busch played in L&H films were assigned to her because Anita Garvin was, first, unavailable doing some other part, and then later, unavailable because she was home being a good wife and mother and preferred not to act. Anita Garvin was always the first choice. From having known Anita Garvin, I can tell you that she did not disappoint any fan lucky enough to meet her in the 1970s and 1980s. She was as funny and personable and friendly and entertaining as anyone you would ever hope to encounter. As great as she was in those films -- even better in person! The truth.
 
Regards,
Richard

As the world knows that your father was a very funny man,but was he ever serious and did he give you any good advice that i can tell my children,also did you know at the time how funny your father was and did you ever go along to see him act.
thanks,hope you are well,jer

jeremy cruse (bath england)


Lois has previously answered parts of your question for others who have written in -- about visiting Hal Roach Studios often, and that she did know her father made comedy movies. But concerning being serious and giving advice, she responds, "Oh yes, my father could be serious, very serious. He wanted me to work hard, and finish school (because he did not!), and learn to type. He said anyone who can type can always get a job. But pay attention to your education -- that was advice he gave to everyone as long as he lived. He also urged me to laugh a lot, and to see the funny side of everything. It was easy for him, and he thought it was a healthy way to live. He was actually afraid to go to funerals because he might see the funny side of someone having died!"
 
Regards,
Richard  

PS:  Lois just phoned with something she wanted to add. Her father frequently spoke to her about "being kind and courteous to everyone you know and everyone you meet," she said. "You can and should always do that, even when it is someone you may not particularly like. Then he would use as an example that he treated everyone the same at Hal Roach Studios, whether it was Babe Hardy or Hal Roach or the janitor -- treat everyone as equals and the way you yourself would like to be treated."

My name is Robert Cockerham. I have been a fan of your father and your "Uncle Babe" for a very long time. I'd like to think I know about everything about them, but I know that would be a wrong assumption. My father in fact was actually the one who got me into watching your father and "Uncle Babe" as I was growing up as a little boy. I absolutely LOVE all their shows; both shorts and feature lengths. Their humor is just as funny today as it was then. I laugh uncontrolably everytime. I do have a small collection of them. Which brings me to my questions. My first question is: Do you know of anyplace at all where ALL of their work is available for purchase? I remember seeing a lot more shows than what I have in my collection. Whenever they show Laurel & Hardy on TV, they never show something I don't have. So, having another source of purchasing their work would be like discovering gold to me. My second question is: Is there any place at all around where I could get a picture of them with you and your mother in it to hang up on my wall? That would really mean a lot to me if I could get something like that. I only wish I could have gotten to meet them. I would love to have been able to hang out with them. But alas, I wasn't born soon enough. However, I can still dream. Thank you Lois for taking time out to read my letter. I hope this finds you well and in the best of health.

Robert Cockerham (Charleston, West Virginia)


Lois is grateful for your nice letter and says, "Buy the Universal boxed set of DVDs, which doesn't have everything, but pretty close." Lois explained that she does not have a photo showing everyone you asked about, together in the same shot. But keep watching the website and we will post more photos of Lois.

Regards,

Richard

The greatest comedy duo of all time,i absolutely loved them.My question is lois,what film gave stan the most pleasure in making.I loved all of them.I hope you respond ,it will make my day and my daughter sophies to.

gavin grantham (east yorkshire)


Lois declares "WAY OUT WEST," would be the clear answer, "because it turned out so well, because it was one of the most relaxed productions insofar as shooting problems or complications, and because my father loved westerns. That was why he got involved producing those Fred Scott westerns."

I followed up asking if Lois knew whether or not Stan Laurel had particular favorite western stars (we know Oliver Hardy was a friend and neighbor of Buck Jones and had also made a film with him). Lois said it wasn't the stars that Stan paid attention to, but the comedy sidekicks. "He adored Al St. John," she explained, "who did a character called 'Fuzzy,' and who was the prime attraction for making those Fred Scott westerns. Andy Clyde was also a dear friend
who socialized with my father. Those two were his favorites."

Andy Clyde portrayed "California Carlson" in the Hopalong Cassidy westerns when Lois's husband, Rand Brooks, was serving as the third member of the series' trio, "Lucky Jenkins."

Regards,

Richard

ive loved the comedy genius of laurel and hardy all my life,there situation comedy routines were truly brilliant,and to be admired,they are the only comedy act that have literally made me cry with laughter,honoured to be able to get this message to you lois, my quetion is.....i know stan went to america with charles chaplin on the same boat i believe,but was your dad proud to be an englisman, regards darren

darren ( manchester/lancashire/england)

"Very definitely!"

I love watching all the old re-runs of Laurel and Hardy, they truly were amazing, the BEST!!!! I'd like to think they were good friends and remained close, is that the case? many thanks and hope u r well

Gina (London)


You will find that answer among previous respones from Lois. It is the most frequently asked question Lois has been asked about her father. The short version, yes, they were always friends and became even better friends once their film careers ended.

Regards,

Richard

thanks for answering all those question. Do you know what happened to all the outakes and rejected takes? I beg they would be wonderful to watch. Was is all burned? Do you own a lot of private films of those wonderful days?

Johnny (Oss)


Lois would like me to answer this question for her. Most of this footage was discarded within days of being shot. Anything saved longer than that was scrapped for its raw components to aid the war drive in 1942. Some few examples survived among the private home collections of individual employees. Lois Laurel does have a few examples of such footage, and we hope to be able to share it with fans. Finally, I showed a vault inventory listing to Hal Roach one day which appeared to contain such footage, including some of his own family home movies. I asked him what happened to that footage, and he did not know.

Regards,

Richard

Could you please tell me what the title of their signature tune was.

james jackson (england manchester)


The title of their theme music was KU KU by T. Marvin Hatley.

Regards,

Richard

Did your father have any favorite songs that he would sing around the house? Either from the Karno days or from the popular music of the day?
Did your father socialize with Marvin Hatley? Do you recall what he was like?
What were holidays like in the Laurel household? Did your father have a favorite?
Thanks so much for the site and the wonderful opportunity. The Boys are a big part of my life.

Bob Stryker (USA Saint Paul )

Lois responds, "My father liked to sing English Music Hall songs around the house. One I remember was called MY OLD MAN SAID, 'FOLLOW THAT VAN.' At least that was a line in the song! Something like that; or maybe it was SAID MY OLD MAN, 'FOLLOW THAT VAN.' Babe's favorite song was SHINE ON HARVEST MOON. That's why he sang it twice in films, in PARDON US and FLYING DEUCES -- he liked to sing it. When I'd visit the set as a little girl he would put me on his knee and sing that song. He did that many times. You would have long waits in between scenes, and one of the things Babe would do to kill time was sing. He was really good at it, too. People at the Roach studio would ask to hear him sing.

"As for my father's favorite holiday, it was not Christmas. I think that was because our family broke up after the divorce. We associate Christmas with family time, and he lost that connection when he lost the happy family we had. I know one time I wanted to see him at Christmas and he told me he was going to be out of town and then later I found out it was not true. So he somewhat tried to ignore Christmas. He enjoyed his birthdays, though, because we made a big fuss over him. He also enjoyed his vacation time so that he could take his boat out to Catalina Island; he really loved doing that."

Lois Laurel and her late husband Tony Hawes threw two amazing birthday parties in Catalina in 1990 and 1992 in honor of Stan Laurel. Hal Roach and I and many lucky others attended.

Regards,

Richard

August 2009

did you ever get to be in a movie with your father, and if so when and what movie so i can see you in it, oh and by the way i once answered a question that was given to me and it went like this.........if you could meet one person in the world who would it be.i said laurel and hardy!.......never a question in my mind
and thank you so much

Dan O'Farrell (Columbia Missouri, USA)


Lois answers, "I worked on SWISS MISS (1938), but I can't find myself in it. Earlier, my mother and I were somewhere in those rickety bleachers watching the circus in THE CHIMP (1932), but I can't ever find myself in that either. I was told at the time that my voice would be on the soundtrack because I laughed when I was not supposed to.

" I was invited to be the little girl in PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES (1932), the part that Jacquie Lyn played. It was in pre-production for a long a time, and I might have outgrown the role anyway, but there was a more important reason involved as to why they bypassed me. And I mean besides the fact that my mother did not want to go all the way downtown to get a work permit for me. Mr. Roach approved me for the picture, and wanted to try me out in Our Gang first. So the director, Bob McGowan, came over to the house with my father to talk to me about being in the Gang - you know, how would a I get along with everyone, what my interests were, what kind of a little girl I was, what I could do, and how I would fit into the chemistry they had going on at the time with the Gang. As you know, Dorothy De Borba was and still is a dear friend of mine. But when McGowan tried to talk to me about their plans for me, I told him, 'No thank you, that would be work,' and I calmly went and hid in the closet! I wouldn't come out, either. Uncle Bob tried to coax me to come out with promises of a trip to get some ice cream. Didn't work! I stayed in the closet."

So much for Lois Laurel's movie career. But later following World War II she did take an acting class at Bliss-Hayden with Marilyn Monroe. And then, maybe not coincidentally, Marilyn Monroe played "Lois Laurel" in MONKEY BUSINESS (1952) at Fox, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers. The Our Gang film entry Lois would have made was FREE WHEELING (1932), one of the best. Too bad. She would have been paired up with Spanky McFarland as tag-along kids behind the principal Gangsters, but Jacquie Lyn played the part instead.

Regards,

Richard

The biggest character actor was certainly James Finlayson, insuperable antagonist in a lot of Films. We donít know very much about his life, do you remember some distinctive features of his character? Did Fin meet L&H also outside the set?

Maurizio (Italy)


"Oh, yes, Jimmie and his girl friend Stephanie came to the house often. But never wearing his mustache! I don't think a lot of people recognized him with the mustache on."

Stan Laurel, in addition to acting, during the most creative period, followed all the steps to develop the film, from script to editing. Did you ever heard him to lament or criticize Hardy because he didnít participate in these aspects?

Maurizio (Italy)


According to Lois, the only criticism or argument of any kind that Laurel and Hardy had was something Lois learned from Lucille Hardy Price, who Lois quotes as recalling, "Babe hated wearing his hair in bangs, because in those days, without air conditioning, he perspired. It could get really hot on those sets, especially under the hot lights. Stan told him that people expect to see the bangs, and how he needed to comb his hair forward! Babe resisted, didn't like it, and said so." Lois was not sure if this was a one time incident, or whether Hardy argued with Laurel more than once over this issue. But if that's the only question they ever debated or argued over in 30 years, wouldn't you say it was a pretty harmonious relationship?

Richard

I had the pleasure of meeting you at a Sons of the Desert meeting that honored Dick Van Dyke(1979). What an honor! Do any of your children or grandchildren show an interest in show business, especially comedy?

Charles DiDonato (Forest Hills, NY)


Lois remembers that meeting; she was on her way to London to marry Tony Hawes. She says her daughter and grandaughter both did commercials, mostly print work, such as modeling for newspapaer ads. It's too early to tell about her greatgrandson Tommy, but right now at least, "He is microphone happy," says Lois.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were friends even in the golden age of their activity or they joined only in recent times?

Maurizio (Italy)


"When they were making films, they were so busy working, there was no time for socializing. They had fun, but it was work, there was lots to do, and they felt pressure to make really good comedies. Everyone knows their hobbies and interests and backgrounds were different, so they didn't see each other between pictures, but fans get this wrong and think that meant an extended period when it was often only a couple of weeks. Even then, during those periods, they would talk on the phone, about their schedules, or the next picture, or a screening, or a personal appearance. Later, when they were touring, after they stopped making movies, they spent more time together because they had more time. On their European tours, for instance, they were really like next door neighbors, because their hotel rooms would be next to one another."

I have seen some photos with you, lithe girl, next to his father Stan and Oliver Hardy on the set of "A perfect day." What do you remember about that set and about and harmony on the sets in general?

Maurizio (Italy)


"I do not remember any such photos on the set of PERFECT DAY. I was just a child then, but I know generally the 'harmony' was up on any set at Hal Roach Studios. I was fortunate to visit so many of them, as that backlot was really my playground growing up. You would get a sense of watching clever men and women having fun trying their best to make a good picture. You wouldn't want to leave once you started watching them at work, but of course there were times I could tell my father was not happy about something. Then there would be no communication between he and Babe. Not because they were unhappy with each other, however, but rather because they were stumped by some continuity or gag problem. Maybe they needed an answer from Mr. Roach on something they wanted to do. More often they had asked Charley Rogers and the gag writers to come up with some idea or resolution of a production problem, and so they had to sit and wait for the answer. When they got the answer, it usually meant they would have to shoot something two or three different ways and then my father or he and Mr. Roach would decide what worked best based on what they would see in the rushes."

July 2009

With the full permission of AMPAS I am working on a project detailing British Academy Award recipients. I have interviewed some two hundred British Oscar awardees  and I would love to learn more about your fathers feelings when he received his Honorary statuette from the Academy. This huge honour is somewhat over looked whenever reference is made to your father¹s career and most certainly I shall chronicle it within my project.

Warmest regards
Jay Glennie (England)


"He was overwhelmed by the honor of receiving that honorary Oscar. In today's world, the word 'awesome' would describe his feelings. He was, however, sorry that Babe Hardy did not live to share in the honor. My father would always mention that in any conversation about the award."

Dear Lois,i feel this is a great honour to be writing to you.My grandad got me into Laurel and Hardy and ever since then (age 41) i have been a massive fan.I have children and they love to watch any of the films.I was able to buy a box set of all the L&H films,which i am very proud to own.What was life like in the 1920-1930 etc as it seemed very glamourous,yet your dad and ollie played alot of down on their luck guys?..plus how does it feel that your dad was one of the funniest persons on the planet.? i did send you a letter but i guess you never got it,when i found this site i immediately started to write.thank you for your time.

jeremy cruse in bath england


"I lived a glamorous life as a child, although I didn't realize it at the time. I was, however, aware that I lived a privileged life. The highlight was to have grown up on the backlot of Hal Roach Studios, which I got a kick out of telling Mr. Roach down through the years. The studio used to send a car for me (driven by Bob Davis) to pick me up and bring me there; I was very lucky. It was wonderful."

Dear Ms. Laurel,
Could you tell us about Stan's visit to Charlie Chaplin in 1947 in Beverly Hills? Why did it take so long for these comedy geniuses to meet again? Was it because of "the competition"?

Best Regards, Roger (The Netherlands)


Dear Roger,

I lead into this question with Lois by discussing how some people have no interest in the past. This does not serve film history well! I was telling Lois how during the 1980s Hal Roach and I used to drive to a ranch way out in Chino to shoot birds and give his hunting dog, named Tripper, some exercise. Often we would go with the owner of a group of car dealerships, one of which was in Culver City on Washington Boulevard right across the street from the former site of Hal Roach Studios. That meant we would drive through there to pick him up. It was real work to trick Hal into discussing even the Culver City neighborhood, much less the studio, much less things he did there up to 60 years ago. Mostly he was annoyed that the place had been torn down, because he advised everyone at the time that there would be a premium on studio space and that the site should not be converted to any other use. But once in a while, in a better mood, he's say, "There's where the good old studio was...." And then maybe he would tell some story I had never heard before.

"Babe Hardy was the same way," Lois remembered. "He was too busy to discuss the past, or answer questions concerning the old films. Reminiscing just wasn't his nature. Lucille (Hardy) would tell fans the same thing about Babe. He was much more interested in horses, sports, the track, fishing, golf. And life in the present."

Specifically, regarding your question, Lois comments, "I am not exactly sure that my father went to visit Charlie (Chaplin) in 1947 at his home. At least, I don't have any details or recollection of that. When my father was living in the Valley at Fort Laurel, it was a long drive over the hill to Beverly Hills, and he didn't care for that. He didn't care for long drives. But the two did speak on the phone regularly. Sometimes it was just a quick call about a name or a show or a gag or an address back home in England.Sometimes those phone calls would go on and on, however, with roars of laughter! And it was funny, if it was Charley Rogers who called, he (Stan) would answer the phone one way, but if it was Charlie Chaplin, you would hear him (Stan) pick up the phone and exclaim, "Oh, Charlie!" It was a big deal. Because not only were they such old friends going way back to the Karno company in England when the two traveled around the world with no money whatsoever, but Charlie was, without question, my father's idol. No one compared to Charlie Chaplin!

"And I know sometimes they would meet at the Masquers Club, or have lunch or dinner at Musso and Franks on Hollywood Boulevard."
 
Regards,

Rchard

Did your father ever mention anything about the famous English radio show from the 1950's- The Goon Show ?

Robert (Brooklyn, New York)


"Yes, of course, he knew about them. People would bring him records, and friends and fans back in England would write enthusiastic letters about THE GOON SHOW. I cannot recall anything specifically he mentioned to me about them though."

Firstly I'd like to say thank you for taking the time to answer this Lois, I really appreciate it. If there is a such thing of heaven, then Stan would be there for sure. I'm just wondering, what do you think his reaction would be if he knew how popular he and babe still are?
(From a 16 year old)

Hayleigh Dutton (Birmingham, UK)


"My father would be surprised at how people regard him. He was always surprised, and Uncle Babe too. If he had lived into this century, he might have used that word so popular today and say 'it is awesome.'"

Can you please tell me about quackless ducks. What kind of pets do they make. and where can you purchase them? Thankyou

c Yosten (USA/Paris, Tx)

"Quackless ducks do make a noise, but it's muffled. They wouldn't be in the house. We had them in a pond area. You wouldn't want them in the house! You could purchase them in a pet store, I suppose. I don't really know that much about them."

Hello lois i hope you are well, i first saw stan and ollie from a very early age. The bbc would show a 20 minute short most days at teatime and i watched and laughed until i cried.I know stan used many stunts and gags more than once and have read that if a gag got a reaction he would use it again if if didn't then he would bin it so to speak.So lois did your father have a favourite stunt or gag .Thank you dear lady.

Keith Walton (leeds/ england)


"My father was most fond of the the gag where he would light his finger. There are letters where he answered fans in detail about how he would do this. On the other hand, the business he opposed resorting to was crying and scratching his head. Everyone asked him to do this all the time, and he got tired of it!"

As a Scottish person, I am very proud that your father had a strong connection with Scotland. I notice that in many of his films there are references or characters associated with the country. I had hoped it was due to a fondness for the country that he had referred to it frequently. Can you please tell me if this was the case?

Vicky (Edinburgh, Scotland)

"Yes, my father loved Scotland, and had many ties there. He lived in Glasgow right before first coming to America."

tell me Lois at what age did you realise your father was famous and what was the moment it happened

Glyn (UK)


"I realized my father was famous pretty much in stages, really. Let me think about this. I spent so much time at the Hal Roach Studios before I was even in kindergarten that I took all this celebrity business for granted. With my friend Dorothy (De Borba, from Our Gang), I roamed that place as though it was my personal playground. I loved everything and everyone. What a fun place to be. I have never seen anything like it anywhere since, but I had no way of appreciating it at the time. Playing there so often was perfectly normal to me and I thought every kid was doing the same thing! How would I know any different?

"I guess my father's fame sunk in when I got to grammar school and exchanged news and ideas with other kids. Their parents were almost all working in the movies too, but it did strike me odd that they should know who my father was. They all saw movies at the Beverly Theatre nearby, and that's how they were familiar with Laurel & Hardy without my ever mentioning them.

"When they went overseas in 1932, that was when both my father, and I, too, knew that he was really famous, and for sure. That trip cemented it. He returned in a different frame of mind. I don't think he had a clear idea of just how successful the team was until then. Everyone everywhere loved them and made it abundantly clear! He was touched by how they were received in New York, and back in his home country. So much love, you know? They were crushed by people crowding all over them everywhere.

"Growing up, here is how I thought we were rich: my father would give me money to take all the neighborhood kids to the movies. The neighbors who I thought were really rich was the family of Mark Sandrich, who directed many of the Astaire-Rogers musicals. Their wealth was conspicuous, I thought. We had money to invite people to the movies, so we were rich, I guessed, but not like the Sandrich family!

"After Laurel & Hardy left Hal Roach Studios, there was a particular incident that taught me times had changed. I wanted to treat my friends to a trip to the movies, and I asked my father for $20. 'What do you think we are, rich or something?' he snapped at me. 'Do you think money grows on trees? It doesn't!' He gave me the $20, but begrudgingly.

"He must have felt bad, and wished he could have taken back those words. After leaving Roach, times were not always as pleasant for us, and his divorce from (third wife) Illeana had cost him. But he must have been sorry about what he said to me. He had moved to Fort Laurel in the San Fernando Valley in 1938, and when I returned home (the former actor, Tonnage Martin, picked me up and drove me back) I was cheered up by what I saw. My father had tied dollar bills to trees all over the yard. I laughed and laughed when I saw that. What a sight that was. Money did grow on trees after all!"

June 2009

Hello Lois:
How close was your father to Lou Costello? Thank You.

Joe Savoia (Saddle Brook, NJ 07663)


"Lou Costello and my father were friends. I remember several times that Lou Costello came to dinner at our house, sometimes with Bud Abbott. I think the first time was when they making a military comedy. I was always sent to play in another room so I don't know the details of what they talked about, but I do know generally that Lou Costello believed that the studio, Fox, was not giving them the right material to perform in. It was something Laurel & Hardy faced at Fox as well, so they were addressing a mutual problem."

Could you please comment on the history of your father's costume.  Do you know how and when he selected his suit and hat for the Laurel and Hardy films? Because of the beating they would receive during the comedy routines, your dad must have had many hats!  How many hats did he
own!
Also, is it true that he gave one his hats to Stymie of the Little Rascals?  
THANK YOU! Beth

Beth Miller (Somis, CA)

"Yes, my father did give Stymie a derby hat because he was so interested in it. Watching them interact was fun. As for the costume, I understand it was a throwback to vaudeville, where it was standard there. The Karno troupe, for instance, they performed in the same kinds of clothing almost as though this was a costume. So the outfit was a almost a given. Look at how Charlie Chaplin dressed. And I would say that my father went through more than a thousand hats, easily -- not an exaggeration. Because not only the hats, but Laurel & Hardy themselves took a beating, physically, making those movies. It was hard work. Anyone who doubts it should try duplicating some of those scenes!"

did your father have any hobbies outside of comedy and film ?

perry kolb (south dakota)

"My father had several interests away from the studio. At the top of the list was fishing, that meant boating, too. That was his main hobby. Another was organic gardening. And this will sound like a joke, but it's not. He used to raise 'quackless ducks.' Meaning ducks that did not 'quack,' so as to not bother the neighbors! I don't know how you spell it, but those ducks were of the 'Muscovie' breed. They were expensive. He did that until one day someone climbed over a seven foot fence and stole them all!"

Is it true that your father,Stan Laurel would make Oliver stay after they finished their talking pictures (Stan edited their pictures)and Oliver would be upset at Stan for making him stay because he wanted to go to the race track or go golfing?

Stephen Maize


"Babe only had to stay as long as they were still shooting and needed him before the cameras. He might get anxious to leave when he saw they were losing the light and it might be too late to play 9 or 18 holes of golf. When they stopped shooting, Babe was free to leave. But my father would stay for editing or rushes or preparation for the next day's work or gag sessions."

Dear Lois Laurel....for years I'm one of those millions still enjoying all the footage I can find about ur dad en his big pal..I hope I can visite their gravesites once in my life so I can "feel" them ...I laugh so much with them but they move me to tears in lot of their films because we can not imagine how life really was all those years ago...did you inherite his positive looks on life and do you laugh problems away ? I hope this receives you and wish you all the best and still thank ur dad an his pal..........
with best regards from Belgium.. a simple happy fan

jan duré (antwerpen , belgium)


"I can't say that I laugh my problems away, nor did my father do that, but I do believe that I have a positive attitude, and he did too. He was usually optimistic and positive, but once in a while he could get down, such as when a contract negotiation did not go well."

Hello dear Lois, i take a great deal of pleasure and honour writing to you, thank you for taking the time , just like your father did.my question is being a father myself i love to make my children laugh ( i use some of your father and babes material) did your father make you laugh and did he embaress you like my children say i do. May your God be with you.thank you for your time.

Harry Innes (England Yorkshire)


"My father did make me laugh, yes. When I got older, he would try things out on me to see if I thought they were funny. If I laughed, he would know he was on the right track. But no, he never embarrassed me, ever. But he would get embarrassed when some of my friends would ask him to cry and scratch his head. People were always asking him to do that, and my friends, too. He did not like resorting to that in films for a laugh, and so he liked it even less when asked to do it in our neighborhood. But he usually did it anyway, just to be nice."

was wondering what political party did your father Stan and Oliver Hardy belong to?
What religious beliefs did your father Stan and Oliver Hardy belong to?
Thank You! Lois.

Jeremy (Los Angeles)


"I do not know what Oliver Hardy's political party was, but I would think he was a Republican, like Hal Roach. And, he was a Mason. My father did not have a political party affiliation; he wholeheartedly supported the president, whoever it was. My father always respected and supported whatever party was then represented in the White House. If it was Eisenhower, then he supported Republicans, if it was Roosevelt, then he supported Democrats because that party ruled the executive branch of government. So many fans have seen all the letters he wrote in the 1960s reflecting his admiration for President Kennedy. Jimmy Murphy got in touch with one of Kennedy's kids in order to secure that autographed photo from President Kennedy that my father was so proud of. Basically my father respected the office, simply because he had so much regard for this country and the American way of life. As for religion, he was a member of the Church of England, which over here would be the High Episcopal Church. He did not always go to church, however he would usually drive me to the Beverly Hills Community Church so I could attend Sunday school once a week. Later when we lived in Canoga Park, he was a friends with a tall 6'6" Catholic priest named Father English of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church. Back then Catholics never ate meat on Fridays. But Father English did! He knew that we had roast beef and Yorkshire pudding every Friday night, so we always had company!"

Hi Lois,
What was it like being with ur father while they were filming in some films? Whats ulverston like when u went there with ur father?

Hana (UK)


"I never went to Ulverston until after my father had died. On your other question, I always enjopyed being on the sets. It was like a big playground, and the people were fun. I visited so often that it wasn't anything unusual for me, but I always looked forward to it."

May 2009

Hi Lois,
Do you have any memories of meeting some of the hilarious supporting players in The Boys films such as Mae Bush, Edgard Kennedy, Billy Gilbert or James Finlayson?  Where either Stan or Ollie friendly with any of them on a social basis?  Thanks.

Bill Martin (USA, Lynbrook)


"I met them all, but it wasn't until a WAY OUT WEST banquest in the late 1960s that I finally was introduced to Billy Gilbert. He and my father were friends, but not as close as the others. Edgar Kennedy was someone who came to dinner at the house, a very close friend. My father adored Mae Busch, too, thought the world of her talent and what she could do. Of course Jimmie Finlayson, like Babe Hardy, was as close as any family member could be. At Hal Roach Studios these people lived for what they were doing and it was so much fun because they all enjoyed each other's company. You saw that any time you were on the set or on location or doing anything at the studio, you know, that these people had a bond and were having fun."

Did you ever get worried knowing/seeing your father doing dangerous stunts?

Jessy (Bristol, UK )


"Yes, I did get worried. When my father first realized that watching some of these things upset me, he would patiently explain that it was all make-believe. If I was still apprehensive, he would show me how certain things worked and that nobody would get hurt. It all looked real to me, but then it was supposed to!"

Dear Lois can you please tell me if there are any Hardys remaining?I just couldnt bare it if there wasnt.... Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to me lots of love Elaine from Glasgow xxxx


"No, sorry to say as far as I know, there are no descendants from Oliver Hardy or any of his step-siblings with the name Hardy. He himself had no children. He would have been a great father and was always so kind to me."

I have so many questions, but I'll ask one. For growing up in that time period, did you get bothered by people because of the fame Stan had?


"No, because many of my friends were the children of celebrities. Besides it was normal for me because it was my own experience. So it was not a problem at all."

Hello,Mrs Laurel.I have been a big fan of Laurel@Hardy for years I have had my photo taken outside Stan's Home in Ulverston,My Question's are,1 what was your dads favorite film that they did.2 Which Books would you recommend about Laurel@Hardy. Thanks
ps a few of my friends say i have a look of stan thats a compliment to me.Thanks again..

Matthew Marsden (UK/Manchester)


"My father always told fans that there really wasn't just one favorite film, but rather favorite scenes. He remembered favorite scenes in many of the films, and in particular he had fond memories of favorite scenes in SWISS MISS and WAY OUT WEST. At different times he might name different films depending on how he felt. He could enjoy looking at all of the Roach films, unless someone had tampered with them, and changed or cut them such as for TV commercials."

"As for books I would recommend the original LAUREL & HARDY by Jack McCabe, Al Kilgore and Richard Bann and also Randy Skretvedt's LAUREL &HARDY -- THE MAGIC BEHIND THE MOVIES, the second edition. I think he's doing a third edition right now, and that, too, will be worthwhile I am sure. But I have no interest in a so-called update of the McCabe-Kilgore-Bann book that was not supervised by McCabe-Kilgore-Bann. They did it right the first time, and there is no need for tampering with that book just as my father didn't appreciate anyone tampering with his films."

March 2009

Hello, I was wondering if Oliver Hardy ever married and had children. Do you have any brothers and sisters. Do you keep in contact with both families. Thank You,

Coleen (United States/Texas)


did babe ever have any children and did stan have any more children than youself. i grew up watching them both on tv and i have the highest respect for them.they where the best .thanks

edwinobrien (ireland)


"Yes, Babe Hardy was married several times. No, Babe never had any children and I had one younger brother, who unfortunately died as an infant."

I would like to ask Lois if Stan and Ollie had foreign language's knowledges?

Christelle (France)


Actually we cover this answer in part elsewhere on the website with respect to the phonetic language Laurel & Hardy films. But Lois answers, "Neither of them was proficient in any other language besides English. They knew only a few key phrases in other languages."

I might add that Stan Laurel was partial to foreign accents, and one long-time girl friend was the French actress Alice Ardell, and two of his wives were from Russia.

Regards, Richard

The official date of dead of Mr.Laurel and Mr. Hardy.

W.van Koll (Helmond  Netherlands)


Dear W. van  Koll,

Your answer:

Hardy: Aug 7, 1957.

Laurel: Feb 23,  1965.

8x7=56. 2x23=46. 56-46=10. Laurel was 75. Hardy was 65.  75-65=10.

Hardy died at 65 in '57, which is 75 backwards, Laurel died  at 75 in '65, which is the age when Hardy died in '57, which is 75 backwards,  which is the age when Laurel died, in '65, at age 75, which is '57 backwards,  which is when Hardy died, at age 65, to infinity to the tenth power, which is  how long Laurel & Hardy will continue entertaining a world in need of  laughter ... if we have anything to do with  it!   

Regards, Richard  

I teach at the King's school tynemouth and it is rumoured that Stan Laurel was a pupil there. Can you enlighten please.

regards
ashley fowler (tynemouth, north shields england)

head of Year


"I do believe my father attended grammar school in Tynemouth, but of course under his name as a boy, which was Stan Jefferson. He had to change schools often, because he wasn't so good at attending them! He did admit he frequently skipped classes to catch some of the touring acts that intrigued him from a very early age. Later in life he was careful to tell friends and especially young people that he was sorry he missed so much school. He honestly regretted it and told aspiring actors and comedians that they needed to finish school. There was no kidding on that subject; he meant it when he advised young fans how much they needed to work hard in school and get as many degrees as they could!"

hello, your father was born in lancashire uk, did he keep in touch with his british relatives or have you and your family discovered any british relatives over the years, thank you, natalie.

natalie evans (wales, uk)


"Yes, to all questions. Nancy Wardell is my closest relative in England."

Dear Lois,
Why didn't your father become an american citizen,why did he keep his british citizenship? Thanks.

Stephen Maize


My father enjoyed great success after he arrived in America, so he was happy to stay here, and he felt a deep allegiance to this country, meaning the United States. But he was always self-conscious about his lack of education, which he needn't have been, but he was. He used to skip classes, and left school as soon as he was able. So later he felt he had missed something, and always urged young people to go as far as possible with their schooling, to get their degrees. I think he failed to appreciate how he had been self-taught, and he underestimated the amount of valuable information he had accumulated in his life, just from travelling so much and reading and studying on his own."

"He actually wanted to become a U.S. citizen, but he felt afraid he would fail the naturalization questions when taking the test! He enrolled in a course, he read and studied the textbook, he knew plenty, but he was terrified he would fail the test! It was an unfounded fear, but he was such a perfectionist, you know, to a fault. The course covered a hundred key questions, and he mastered all the answers, and yet still he was so apprehensive he never took the test."

"By the 1950s when it was clear that his movie career was over, he toyed with the idea of returning to England to live, but he did not entertain that notion for long."

"On his desk there was always a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a single volume type of encyclopedia called the LINCOLN LIBRARY OF ESSENTIAL INFORMATION. He referred to it so often he almost wore it out. What's more, that book got me through high school! After my father died, the book was finally just falling apart, and I gave it to my son Randy."

Did your father ever travel across the United States in any period except World War II?

Stephen Maize


"Yes, my father travelled across the United States and Canada during the teens, first with the Fred Karno troupe of performers including Charlie Chaplin, and later with his own act on the Orpheum and other theater circuits."

Dear Lois...could you please tell me which types of music your father liked best?And did he have any favourite singers? (Would you know the same for Ollie?) What do you think Stan would have thought of getting to No.2 in the UK music charts (in 1975) with 'The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine'? Thanks! From Andrew (a 47 year old Laurel & Hardy fan!!)

Andrew Cutmore (London)


"My father liked both classical and modern songs. He had a collection of classical music at home. But he really adored the music hall songs, the old songs he would have heard as a boy attending stage shows featuring variety entertainers performing music hall songs. He knew the lyrics, and they made him laugh. He and his friends could break each other up doing those songs. He had so many of these old music hall songs, and the classical recordings too, but I suppose they got broken in all the moves he made over the years, otherwise we would have them today. In America during the 1930s into the 1950s he thought Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra were marvelous. He never made an effort to see them in person, but did enjoy listening on radio and records."

We prompted Lois to recount the time someone asked Stan Laurel during the 1960s if he had heard the Beatles, and to offer his opinion on their music. Always a gentleman, he gave a typically diplomatic answer. "The Beatles? Yes, I have heard the Beatles' music," Laurel said. "What can I say? They are my countrymen."

Did Stan ever talk about the First Wold War?

Andrew Tomlinson (Retford, Nottinghamshire, England)


"My father was ordered to report for service during the first World War. He was then living in America of course, not England. The order came from the U.S. government, not England. But he flunked the physical examination. Maybe it was flat feet, but I think the papers we have in the scrapbook say something different. I just cannot recall. But from then on he laughed about serving in  'The 4-F Department' during the war. Babe was not conscripted. He did not wait for that. He was keen to serve, and the day America declared war he went right down to a recruiting office and volunteered, but he failed the medical exam, too. According to Lucille (Hardy), it was because of his size. He was too tall (maybe 6'2") and too heavy; he could not have slept on the army-issue metal cots they had to use! He was hurt by the rejection. Of course they made several comedies about military life and two that referenced the first World War were PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES and BLOCK-HEADS."

Hi Lois,
It's a pleasure to meet you!
I would like to know if Stan or Babe ever played baseball in any celebritycharity baseball games?  I have seen footage of  several other classiccomedians playing in such baseball games, but I've never seen any footage of Stan or Babe.

Jeffrey Veroff (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)


"Yes, my father and Babe did participate in at least one celebrity baseball game that I remember. It was in the 1930s, at Gilmore Field, behind the old Farmers Market near Fairfax and Third Street. I cannot recall the specific charity behind the event. Joe E. Brown and Buster Keaton were mainstays for any celebrity baseball game and they were always at these things. I have a flyer for it somewhere in the scrapbooks, which I would pull down for you, but they are not so easy for me to get at these days. Being from England, my father was not much of a baseball fan, but Babe was. He played many sports. I know his favorite baseball team was the Brooklyn Dodgers. We used to comment it was a shame he died right before the team moved to Los Angeles and he never got to see them play here."

As a true lover of the slapstick comedy there were none better than Laurel and hardy at this art. They have cheered me up no end on those dull and dreary days. I did wonder, however, if Stan had any thoughts on doing any other types of movies..i know Ollie made a couple of straight films....did Stan ever get the urge?

Steve Hankin (Suffolk, UK)


"That's hard to answer. The kinds of films my father made were pretty much determined by the studios, especially Hal Roach Studios, where he was under contract. It is curious, but this question never came up. I know that once the team of Laurel & Hardy was established, he was pretty much locked in as that kind of a performer. He was qualified to serve as a director, but was content to express himself in that way working with directors on his own films with Babe. He did experiment as a producer, making a few "B" westerns with Fred Scott in 1937. But to perform a straight role in something other than a comedy? No, I doubt that ever occurred to my father."

I had heard that your father's inspiration for the film The Music Box was the steps leading up from North Shields fish  quay in the North East of England. Do you know if this is true? I would love to take a photograph of both sets of stairs and make some sort of black and white picture in a frame with the two photos. I will send you a copy if you like it.

Stephen Thompson (Cambridge, UK)


"I can understand why fans in the area would like to make this connection to HATS OFF and THE MUSIC BOX, I cannot offer any evidence that I know of to support it. It does not make sense to me, as Hal Roach Studios had a location manager to handle this kind of thing. At this late date we will never know for sure, but I tend to doubt the alleged inspiration."

I would encourage you to read Richard W. Bann's essay on THE MUSIC BOX.

I am trying to find out a little information. Looking through some old family pictures I found an autographed Laurel and Hardy picture that was made out to my great aunt Ceil and dated 1955. There was a letter explaining that she was a nurse to Mr. Hardy and taken very good care of him. I am trying to find out if there is any truth to this.
Thank you.
John Szymczak (Racine, Wisconsin)


"I recall seeing only male nurses when I visited Babe, but your account sounds accurate to me and your aunt Ceil could well have helped Babe as a nurse in 1955."

What cigarettes did Stan smoke ?
(Mike Hans (Jessup) Germany, Saarlouis)


"My father did a print ad campaign with Babe that ran in the newspapers during the 1930s for Chesterfield and they sent him cigarettes for years and years after that.  That was his favorite brand, Chesterfield. I can recall that one of his fingers was dark from where he held the cigarettes all the time. He went through three packs a day, but never smoked them clear down all the way. And he claimed he did not inhale!"

"They did not smoke in the movies, but whenever you saw candid shots, both my father and Babe were usually photographed holding cigarettes. People did not know back then how bad they were for your health. So many people smoked."

I would just like to ask, how many siblings do you have and how many times did your father marry?
(sana, london)


"For various civil and religious reasons, my father went through eight different marriage ceremonies to four women. Mae Dahlberg sued to be declared the common law wife, but that action was dismissed. I had one younger brother, who was born two and one-half months prematurely, and he lived only a few days. Oliver Hardy had no children."

 

February 2009

Is your father Stan, was so funny in private life like in his movies?
Peter MARTINS (FRANCE)

What was your father Stan like off screen around his family? I can imagine him very similar to his on screen role for some reason as his character seems so natural, as though he doesn't need to try to act. Did you ever see your father as Stan Laurel your father or Stan Laurel the comic genius from 'Laurel And Hardy'?
Philip Gilson (Manchester, England)


"That's the number one question people always want an answer for, what were Laurel and Hardy really like?'

"They were nothing like you see in movies. My father worked hard to create that character, but it was only a character. He could be funny at home, but he didn't lapse into that character. He was much like any dad in any family with an only child. I never saw anything unusual about our home. The lives me and my friends lived were normal for us because we had nothing to compare them to.

"My father did not see himself as a movie star or a celebrity at all. When I tell fans that, they have a hard time believing it, but it was true. He thought movie stars were the dramatic actors who made big budget "A" feature films. He was keenly aware of "A" films versus "B" films distinctions and the social barriers in between people who worked in them. He thought of himself as being in a different class than the big movie stars. Maybe that was because of his English heritage, where people were more conscious of class distinctions. Both he and Babe were down to earth, regular humble people. They were accessible and everyone liked them, that I could tell.

"I thought of Stan Laurel as my father, not an actor who made comedy films for movie theaters. My father had a job just as my friends' fathers did, and every day they went to work and came home. I never knew what my friends' fathers did, and yet many if not most were working in some aspect of movie-making. Walter Wolf King, for instance, who made SWISS MISS, his daughter was in many of my classes growing up. As a child I never knew he had made a movie with my father. Same for Harry Warren's daughter. We'd be playing in the den at her house, and Harry Warren would be in the other room with his partner Ted Koehler composing music, you know for things like FOOTLIGHT PARADE or the GOLD DIGGERS movies at Warner Bros., or whatever the movie was. But we never paid any attention or knew what they were doing. Same thing at our house when gag writers, including people like Charley Rogers and Charlie Hall would come over. We would hear all the laughter going on for hours, but didn' t really know or care what they were doing or why -- just that they were friends of my father, all having a lot of fun!"

 
Previous questions and answers
Ask Lois by Richard W. Bann