Arthur Stanley "Stan" Jefferson (16 June 1890 – 23 February 1965), known as Stan Laurel, was an English comic actor, writer and film director, famous as one half of the comedy team Laurel and Hardy. Laurel began his career in the British music hall from where he took a number of his standard comic devices: the bowler hat, the deep comic gravity, and the nonsensical understatement. His film acting career stretched between 1917 and 1951.
Arthur Stanley Jefferson was born in his grandparents house on 16 June 1890 at 3 Argyle Street, Ulverston, Lancashire (now Cumbria) in the north west of England. He had two brothers and a sister.
Laurel had a rich marital history. He had four wives and married one of them twice.
In 1928, during the early years of Laurel and Hardy's partnership, Laurel and first wife Lois had a baby girl, also named Lois, who married actor Rand Brooks. In May 1930, their second child, Stanley Robert Laurel, died after nine days.
In 1935, Laurel divorced Lois and married Virginia Ruth Rogers. In 1938, he divorced Virginia and married Vera Ivanova Shuvalova. By 1941, he had divorced Vera and re-married Virginia. In 1946, he divorced Virginia and married Ida Kitaeva Raphael, whom he did not divorce.
Laurel was a heavy smoker until suddenly quitting around 1960. In January 1965, he underwent a series of x-rays for an infection on the roof of his mouth. He died on 23 February 1965, aged 74, four days after suffering a heart attack on 19 February.
Just minutes away from death, Laurel told his nurse he would not mind going skiing right at that very moment. Somewhat taken aback, the nurse replied that she was not aware that he was a skier. "I'm not," said Laurel, "I'd rather be doing that than this!" A few minutes later the nurse looked in on him again and found that he had died quietly in his armchair.
At his funeral, silent screen comedian Buster Keaton was overheard giving his assessment of the comedian's considerable talent: "Chaplin wasn't the funniest, I wasn't the funniest, this man was the funniest." **** Van Dyke, a friend, protege and occasional impressionist of Laurel during his later years, gave the eulogy, reading A Prayer for Clowns.
Laurel had quipped: "If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I'll never speak to him again."
Laurel was interred in Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery.
In 1961, Laurel was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
In 1989, a statue of Laurel was erected in Dockwray Square, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, England, where he lived at No. 8 from 1897 to 1902. The steps that led down from the Square to the North Shields Fish Quay, were said to have inspired the piano-moving scene in The Music Box.
In 2009, a bronze statue of the duo was unveiled in Laurel's hometown of Ulverston, Cumbria.
Coordinates: 55°0'34"N 1°26'19"W
Taken on 23rd November 2012 in Dockwray Square, North Shields, Tyne and Wear, England.
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