The book is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 is a biography of Laurel & Hardy, exploring the public and private sides of their lives. Chapter 2 is a critique of four broad influences of Laurel & Hardy--as special icons of comic frustrations; as developers of a change in film comedy pacing (which also eased their transition from silent to sound film); as movie pioneers in the innovative early use of comic sound; and, most importantly, as key participants in the evolution of the comic antihero into American mainstream humor. Chapter 3 is composed of two very early reprinted Laurel & Hardy articles and a special Encore collection. Chapter 4 is a very ambitious Laurel & Hardy bibliographical essay, assessing key reference materials and locating research collections open to the student and/or scholar. This involves many obscure, often early and/or untranslated articles drawn from research in Ulverston England--Laurel's birthplace--London and Paris. Chapter 5 is a bibliographical checklist of all sources recommended in Chapter 4. This volume should be of special interest to all Laurel & Hardy aficionados, and students/scholars of comedy.
WES D. GEHRING is a Professor in the Department of Communications at Ball State University. He was named BSU Outstanding Young Faculty, 1982-1983 and Outstanding Researcher, 1985-1986.
Louvish traces the early lives of Stanley Jefferson and Norvell Hardy and the surrounding minstrel and variety theatre, which influenced all of their later work. Louvish examines the rarely seen solo films of both our heroes, prior to their serendipitous pairing in 1927, in the long-lost short "Duck Soup." The inspired casting teamed them until their last days. Both often married, they found balancing their personal and professional lives a nearly impossible feat.
Between 1927 and 1938, they were able to successfully bridge the gap between silent and sound films, which tripped up most of their prominent colleagues. Their Hal Roach and MGM films were brilliant, but their move in 1941, to Twentieth Century Fox proved disastrous, with the nine films made there ranking as some of the most embarrassing moments of cinematic history.
In spite of this, Laurel and Hardy survived as exemplars of lasting genius, and their influence is seen to this day. The clowns were elusive behind their masks, but now Simon Louvish can finally reveal their full and complex humanity, and their passionate devotion to their art. In Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy: The Double Life of Laurel and Hardy, Louvish has seamlessly woven tireless and thorough research into an authoritative biography of these two important and influential Hollywood pioneers.