Book Review: Mr. Laurel & Mr. Hardy

Publisher: New American Library

Year: 1968

Pages: 176

Type: Softcover


“For Stan – The onlie begetter.” – Shakespeare (in part)

There have been countless comedy teams since the days of Vaudeville brought slapstick humor to the masses. Some teams added members to become three or four, or more. But who was the best team of all time?

I say: “Laurel and Hardy”, hands down!

This wonderful little paperback is a fun and informative look into the origins, comedy, movies, and the rise and fall, of histories most beloved pair of fools.

It’s not compulsory, but if a book I am reviewing can have a Disney tie-in, that’s works for me! Dick Van Dyke was tasked with doing the Introduction to this book back in 1966. Van Dyke was fresh off his starring role in Mary Poppins and was doing another Disney film as he wrote his tribute to the duo. Just a few years later he would be flying high with a car named Chitty.

As with all famous people, you probably think you know a lot about them until you read an biography like this one. The rosy picture you may have had about the subject starts to tarnish, just a little bit. The pages of Mr. Laurel & Mr. Hardy don’t quite do that, although you will learn that not everything was fun and games, gayety and laughter in their lives.

Above, we see a famous scene that was played out many times and in many films. Stan is about to inexplicably light his thumb on fire to light a cigarette, much to Ollie’s consternation! I know the gag through and through, but Ollie’s reaction makes me laugh out loud all over again every time I see it.

In later years, the two weren’t as close as they had been. Their careers were on the wain and Hardy’s health was failing. But they did one more tour, this time, through the British Isles.

1954 basically brought an end to the long history of this legendary comedy duo. But they could look back on a career of almost unmatched hilarity and heart.

I love finding older books like this one. They have a character all their own with the yellowing pages and that distinct old-book smell! Perhaps it’s an acquired taste.

I would give this book a 5 Out of 5 Stars with no problem, both for the casual fan and the rabid fan alike.

I’ll conclude with an excerpt from a poem that Dick Van Dyke sent to Stan Laurel. I think it very well encapsulates what Laurel & Hardy did for the world:

God bless all clowns, who star the world with laughter,

Who ring the rafters with a flying jest.

Who make the world spin merry on its way,

And somehow add more beauty to each day.”

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