Laurel & Hardy Biography

During their partnership Laurel (Arthur Stanley Jefferson, 16 June 1890, Ulverston, Lancashire (later Cumbria), England, d. 23 February 1965, Santa Monica, California, USA) and Hardy (b. Oliver Norvell Hardy, 18 January 1892, Harlem, Georgia, USA, d. 7 August 1957, North Hollywood, California, USA) made silent and talking films. In 1910 and 1912 Laurel toured the USA with Fred Karno, opting to stay. Between 1917 and 1927 he made 75 shorts, before teaming with Hardy. Meanwhile, Hardy sang professionally from the age of eight, made his film debut in 1913, playing minor roles until partnering Laurel. After switching to talkies they appeared in film revues, such as The Hollywood Revue Of 1929, but also made some musical features, including The Rogue Song (1930, a lost film based upon Franz Lehár’s operetta Gypsy Love, starring opera singer Lawrence Tibbett), and The Devil’s Brother (1933, UK title:Fra Diavolo, starring opera singer Dennis King). Adapted from Daniel Auber’s opera, the score was arranged by Le Roy Shield.

In 1934 Babes In Toyland was based upon the Broadway musical, and The Bohemian Girl (1936) on William Balfe’s operetta. Many other films had musical moments, notably Bonnie Scotland (1935) and Swiss Miss (1938) and film songs included ‘You Are The Ideal Of My Dreams’ in Beau Hunks (1931, UK title: Beau Chumps), ‘Lazy Moon’ in Pardon Us (1931, UK title: Jailbirds), ‘Honolulu Baby’ in Sons Of The Desert (1933, UK title: Fraternally Yours), ‘The Old Spinning Wheel’ in Them Thar Hills (1934), ‘Shine On Harvest Moon’ in The Flying Deuces (1939), and Laurel plays concertina for ‘Mairzy Doats’ in The Big Noise (1944). In Way Out West (1937), the pair dance to ‘The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine’ before Laurel delivers a bass-soprano vocal (dubbed by Chill Wills and Rosina Lawrence). Omnipresent was T. Marvin Hatley’s cheerful theme tune, ‘Ku-Ku’, better known as ‘The Dance Of The Cuckoos’. Hatley and Shield wrote occasional songs and much of the background music for the duo’s films, Hatley being Oscar-nominated for the scores of Way Out West and Block-Heads (1938). In addition to their films, the duo also sang on their occasional tours of the USA and the UK.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.