Born and raised in the British Music Hall, Stanley Laurel came to America with his friend Charlie Chaplin as a member of Fred Karno’s Educated Comedians. When Chaplin left Karno to make comedies for Mack Sennett, the troupe disbanded and young Stanley toured in American vaudeville as yet another Chaplin impersonator.
Laurel had a long solo film career prior to his momentous 1927 teaming with Oliver Hardy. For 10 years he struggled for a screen personality. His persona embodied the contradictory elements of brashness, whimsy, and silliness. The results could be engaging, or sometimes irritating. His best films were parodies – where the gags, Laurel’s strength, could overshadow his lack of characterization. Laurel was one of the great comedy minds, and his talent for pantomine and creating gags was exceptional.
Stan Laurel lived to create good comedy. He was a highly respected writer and director, and, next to Chaplin, producer Hal Roach considered him the best gag-man in the business. With the talent gathering at the Roach studios, there was no better place for a comedy craftsman like Laurel to home his talents.