Where it all began
With a passion for performing thanks to theatre-dwelling parents, Stan Laurel began his acting career on stage alongside Charlie Chaplin.
By 1927, was well on the way to realising his American dream when he met the man that would be his on-screen partner and closest friend, Oliver Hardy. After massive success as comedy duo, Hardy died in 1957, leaving behind a devastated Laurel, who decided that without his friend and partner, he would retire from acting.
After having starred in nearly 190 films and achieving his lifelong dream, Laurel’s hard work was rewarded in 1961 when he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Academy Award.
Laurel’s final years were spent in a small apartment in a Santa Monica Hotel. He was well-known for dedicating a great deal of his time to his fans, answering mail and even phone calls. A heavy smoker until around the age of seventy, Laurel died on the 23rd February 1965, a few days after having suffered a heart attack. Minutes from death, Laurel is said to have told his nurse that he wouldn’t mind going skiing, to which the nurse replied that she had not know he was a skier. “I’m not”, said Laurel, “I’d rather be doing that than have all these needles stuck into me!”. A few minutes later, the nurse found Laurel to have quietly passed away.
“…this man was the funniest”
At his funeral, Laurel’s good friend, Dick van Dyke gave the eulogy. Silent screen comedian, Buster Keaton was also present and was overheard declaring that “Chaplin wasn’t the funniest, I wasn’t the funniest, this man was the funniest”. Laurel wrote his own epitaph and true to form, his last words were written in the unique brand of humour that had made him so famous: “If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I’ll never speak to him again”.
He was buried at Forest Lawn in the Hollywood Hills Cemetery, Los Angeles.
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