Laurel & Hardy
If you’re looking for funny friendships, there’s perhaps no greater example than Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. This comedic duo starred in more than 100 movies during the early stages of Hollywood cinema. Born in late 19th century England, the two men met while working separately on films in the early 1920s. They became a team when the head of their studio, Hal Roach, brought them together for the 1927 film, Putting Pants on Philip. In those days, studios were still making silent films so the genius of both men for physical comedy put them at the forefront of this kind of cinema.
By the late 1920s, new technology matched picture with sound and this ushered in the age of “talkies”. Although many comedians and film stars were unable to adapt to the new reality, Laurel and Hardy adjusted just fine. Their humor was not only physical (falling, tripping, and hitting) but also verbal. Their first sound film was Unaccustomed As We Are, which came out in 1929.
Throughout the 1930s, Laurel and Hardy’s popularity with audiences grew immensely. They showed how funny they were in the 1935 classic film, Babes in Toyland. Even today, TV networks still broadcast this picture to many American homes around Christmas time. For Laurel and Hardy, it was an enormous success, yet the film’s producer was unhappy with the pair for their behavior during the movie’s production.
Laurel and Hardy’s movies held wide appeal to audiences throughout the 1930s and 1940s. However, their popularity began to wane after World War II. Their films were still popular but not the smash hits they used to be. Laurel and Hardy made Atoll K, their final film, in 1951. Laurel had some health problems by this time so the pair took a break. The two men remained lifelong friends until their deaths. Even today, their movies still make people laugh.