STAN LAUREL Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Right up front I must make it perfectly clear that I am not a biographer. There is no way I can do justice to the history of the prime personalities that are the objects of our appreciation. The prudent thing would be for me to leave that task to someone better qualified. But I won’t do that. The best that I can do is to give you a brief summary of the life of Stan Laurel and then suggest additional reading to give you a proper view.


Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born in Ulverston, Lancashire, England, on June 16, 1890. Because of his mother’s illness his grandmother took care of him until he was about five or six, when Stan moved in with his father.


Stan’s father, Arthur J. Jefferson ("AJ") had controlling supervision of a group of local theaters in the northern part of England, serving not only as a manager, but also as an actor, director and playwright as well. Stan showed an early inclination to follow in his father’s footsteps. He was fascinated with all aspects of the theater life. His favored toys were all associated with the theater. When he was about nine he built a theater in the attic of his home, wrote his own plays and recruited the neighborhood children as supporting players.


He debuted in a real theater at the age of sixteen and shortly joined the Fred Karno theatrical troupe, one of the leading English music hall group of the day. In 1910, the Karno troupe came to America and performed to much acclaim a play called A Night in an English Music Hall. Charlie Chaplin was a leading member of the troupe, and Stan was Charlie’s understudy. But, when Charlie left the troupe for greener pastures in the fledgling motion picture industry, the Karno team was forced to split up. Stan decided to stay in America and became a successful staple of the American vaudeville houses.


In 1917 Stan was asked to make a short comedy film. The two-reeler, Nuts in May, was funny enough to convince Stan that he could succeed in film. It was about this time that Mae Daulberg, Stan’s vaudeville partner and partner in other respects as well (she became Stan’s common-law wife) suggested that Stan change his name. She pointed out that “Stan Jefferson” contained 13 characters. She suggested the last name of “Laurel,” which stuck.


In 1926, Stan signed his first contract with Hal Roach Studios. It was his intention to work primarily as a writer and director, but fate stepped in. Oliver Hardy, another member of the Hal Roach Studios “Comedy All Star” players, was injured in a kitchen mishap (he burned himself on a leg of lamb) and Stan was asked to return to the front of tha cameras.