Stan Laurel (Arthur Stanley Jefferson)

Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel

Comedian. He found his greatest success when paired with Oliver Hardy. Born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in Ulverston, England, the second of five children. His father, A. J. Jefferson managed a number of vaudeville theaters, and his mother was an actress. He lived with his grandparents until age six, then moved in with his parents to begin his education. Young Laurel liked theater so much that he set up a small stage in his parent’s attic, and used the neighborhood children as actors. He went to school in Glasgow, where he finished his formal education, and went to work in the Metropole Theater, which his father owned. His father encouraged him to get into theater management, but at age 16, he decided to try acting. In 1907, he joined a traveling group of actors as a bit player, becoming the understudy of the group’s star performer, actor Charlie Chaplin. When the group broke up, he went into vaudeville, and in 1917, he won a small bit role in the Hollywood film, “Nuts in May” (1917), deciding to stay in the United States. In 1918, he met actress Mae Dahlberg, who became his common law wife, as she was still married in her native Australia. They would live together until 1925, when Mae decided to return to Australia. It was Mae who suggested he change his stage name to Stan Laurel. He would later marry five times, twice to actress Virginia Ruth Rogers, and he would divorce four times, but remain with his fifth wife, Ida Raphael, for 19 years until his death. Although he acted in a short film, “A Lucky Dog” (made in 1917 but not released until 1921) with actor Oliver Hardy, their chemistry together was not recognized until 1925. Once their potential was recognized, the pair worked together on hundreds of films, becoming lifelong friends. Their best work together is considered to be “The Music Box” (1931), which won an Oscar for Best Comedy Short Subject. The film “Flying Deuces” is considered one of their most famous movies. Following World War II, interest in the pair of comics declined in Hollywood, so in 1947, Stan and Oliver did a successful tour of theaters in Europe. The six month tour was so successful that they extended it an additional five months. Their last movie together, a French film called “Atoll K” (1951) was a financial disaster. In 1960, he was given a special Oscar for “his creative pioneering in the field of cinema comedy.” He died in Santa Monica, California in 1965 from a sudden heart attack. In 1991, he and Oliver Hardy were honored on a US 29 cent postage stamp.

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Born

  • June, 16, 1890
  • Ulverston, England

Died

  • February, 23, 1965
  • Santa Monica, California

Cause of Death

  • Heart attack

Cemetery

  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park
  • Hollywood,California

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