Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.

JUNE 16th 

On this day in history in 1890, was born Stan Laurel.

Later to become half of the great comedy team of Laurel and Hardy, Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born at his grandparents' home, 3 Foundry Cottages, Ulverston, then in Lancashire, England. Arthur was one of 5 children born to Arthur and Madge Jefferson. His father was always known as 'AJ' and was a theatre manager and impresario. Madge was an actress, somewhat noted in the north of England.

Baby Arthur was a weak and sickly child and not expected to survive, so was christened in some haste. However he thrived and lived in Ulverston until the age of 6, by which time Foundry Cottages had been renamed Argyle Street. He joined his parental family in the north-east of England and they later moved to Glasgow. In later life, Stan remembered his boyhood and said "I had the spirit of the theatre in me..." and was a natural showman with a love of comedy. He had little appetite for formal education. His father helped him convert an attic into a model theatre, where he wrote and presented 'shows' to a small audience of pals, for pennies or gifts, but this was stopped when an oil-lamp was overturned and started a fire.

Stan first performed in public at Pickard's Panopticon in Glasgow, and joined the Levy and Cardwell child-theatre group as a comedy player. He was then recruited by Fred Karno, for his famous Komedians troupe, and they sailed to America in 1910, including Charles Chaplin in their number as Karno's big star. Stan was Chaplin's understudy and constant companion.

During a second tour, in 1913, Stan decided to stay in the USA playing Vaudeville and went into movies with Essanay, Joe Rock and then Hal Roach, where he was hired as a writer and humorist. Essanay cast him in A Lucky Dog, alongside Oliver 'Babe' Hardy. The movie, released in 1921, was their first together. It would be 5 years before they appeared on screen together again, in what became the most famous screen partnership of all time, eventually making 106 movies together, though there is also some discussion about whether other 'appearances' (eg One Moment Please) should be counted. Their 1932 movie The Music Box netted them a Best Short Film Oscar.

Stan Laurel died in 1965. His last words were ďIf anyone has a long face at my funeral, Iíll never speak to them again!Ē

There is a museum of Laurel and Hardy at Laurelís birthplace in Ulverston. [The Roxy, Brogden Street, Ulverston. LA12 7AH] and a statue of him, near a former home in North Shields. [Dockwray Square, North Shields, NE30 1JZ]

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