OCEANA LETTERHEAD - 849 OCEAN AVE., SANTA MONICA, CA - TYPEWRITTEN

                NOVEMBER 1st.'61.
Dear Al Burian:
                Thanks for your very nice letter.
Pleased to know the old L&H films are still affording you so much pleasure - appreciate very much your kindly sentiments so graciously expressed. Sorry I do'nt have any of the stills you mention in the model 'T' Ford, otherwise I would have been delighted to send you a copy.
    Note you collect Antique Autos - thats a very interesting hobby - a nostalgic appeal.
    Again my thanks & best wishes to your kind self & family.
                Sincerely as ever:
Stan Laurel Signature                 STAN LAUREL.



OCEANA LETTERHEAD - 849 OCEAN AVE., SANTA MONICA, CA - TYPEWRITTEN

Mr. Hardy and I met at the Hal Roach Studio, where I was directing films.

Stan Laurel

                NOVEMBER 4th.'61.
Dear Dean Kaner:
    Thanks your letter with enclosure of news clippings regarding the new Bridge construction - that [is] quite a big project is'nt it. Note too there [is] a new Hospital underway & a Shopping center, certainly a lot of activity going on.
    Mr Hardy & I met at the Hal Roach Studio where I was directing films at the time - incidently , there is a book, published by Doubleday Co. titled: "MR LAUREL & MR HARDY", written by John McCabe, it is a biography of our career - I suggest you check your local Library, they may have a copy, if not try your nearby book store for further information.
    I autographed the slip of paper you requested & am returning herewith.
    Nice to hear from you again Dean - wish you lots of success in the 7th. Grade. Bye now.
    Good luck/
                Sincerely as ever:
Stan Laurel Signature                 STAN LAUREL.


OCEANA LETTERHEAD - 849 OCEAN AVE., SANTA MONICA, CA - TYPEWRITTEN

                NOV. 7th.'61.
Dear George Coleman:
    Thanks your letter - nice to hear from you again - note you already knew of the 'Blackhawk Film' outfit.
    Thanks too for the snapshot of yourself, pleased to have it to add to my collection of Friends & Fans I've gathered thru' the years.
    Interesting to know that Beverly, Mass. was the birthplace of the American Navy - probably started with a Row Boat & a box of Fire crackers.!!
    Regarding the silent films I made before I teamed with Hardy - I frankly do'nt know if any of these are still available - maybe 'Blackhawk' Co. could give you some information on this.
    Shall be pleased to hear from you occasionally George - thanks for your kind thought & gesture.
    My kindest regards to yourself & Mrs C.
    Take care - God Bless.
                Sincerely as ever:
Stan Laurel Signature                 STAN LAUREL.


AGREEMENT - Peter Dinkoff, Painter - HANDWRITTEN

                AGREEMENT
Made by Peter Dinkoff, Painter, located at 938 11 St., Santa Monica, Calif.
    I, Peter Dinkoff, oblige to paint the house of Mr. Stan Laurel with material and colors selected by him, as follows: Inside the house to be painted one coat, living room, dining room, hall, kitchen, 2 bathrooms, laundry room, 3 bedrooms and the woodwork. Also one of the bedrooms to be painted TWO COATS over the wallpaper. The painting job to be best for which I guarantee and payable after it is done for sum of $300.00 THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS.
    NOV. 10, 1961
    SANTA MONICA
                Painter
                P. Dinkoff
Stan Laurel Signature

OCEANA LETTERHEAD - 849 OCEAN AVE., SANTA MONICA, CA - TYPEWRITTEN

                NOV. 10th.
Dear Tom [Sefton]:
                Thanks yours, 6th.inst.
Note you & Ben Chadwell will be in Santa Monica next Tuesday - just had a letter from Ben too. Shall enjoy very much seeing you both again sometime afternoon, 14th.
    Re the film "Should Tall Men Marry", this was a Hal Roach silent two reeler which had been rejected by Pathe Film Exchange in New York (Roach was releasing his product with them at this time) they told him to revise & try & improve it, so during the remake I was added for a couple scenes. I frankly don't remember much about it except I did some scenes with Jimmy Finlayson, I played a cow-hand on the ranch or something - I suggest, before you decide to buy this print, you have it screened for you - even if the print is in good condition, I doubt if the comedy has any value, (just a reel of film.!)
    Trust alls well Tom. All news when I see you.
    Cheerio!
                As ever:
Stan Signature

Notes from the Editor

Should Tall Men Marry? (1927) was a Hal Roach two-reeler. The script was originally titled Why Cowboys Leave Home, and Oliver Hardy was to star, but Roach decided that instead of Hardy, Eugene Pallette should get the role. The film was directed by Louis J. Gasnier and premiered as Cowboys Cry for It. After Pathé asked for changes, Clyde Bruckman was called in to direct retakes with Laurel taking over Pallette’s role.



OCEANA LETTERHEAD - 849 OCEAN AVE., SANTA MONICA, CA - TYPEWRITTEN

‘The Dance of the Cuckoos’ was made in London, England in 1932, during our visit there by the Columbia Record Company orchestra. I doubt if there are many of these records still in existence. During World War II, the Columbia building was badly blitzed and all the master records were destroyed.

Stan Laurel

                NOVEMBER 20th.'61.
Dear Marie & Bob [Hatfield]:
    Thanks yours,Oct.30th. & 14th.inst. enclosed with the old movie stills [&] scrap book clippings of your Cousin Marie. The latter is very very interesting indeed, a wonderful collection - worthy of display in the proposed movie museum which is shortly to be under construction - am returning these under separate cover, will advise you as soon as they are mailed so you can be on the look out for them.
    Glad to know you had a nice birthday & were in shape to celebrate with a barbeque'd Steak & all the trimmings.
    Pleased to tell you we finally got new tenants, he's the vice a President of an oil corporation, his wife & 5 kids.!! Hope I'll have a house left.! they lost their home in the recent fire so friends & relatives are furnishing & helping them out in that respect, we had just got through painting the entire interior & all the windows cleaned, lucky I was able to let them come into the place, the whole family had been separated living at different relative & friends homes all over town - they were so happy to be all together again.
    We watch Mitch Miller occasionally its a very good show. My Dr. tried to switch my insulin to the tablet formula, took the pills for a week, but they did'nt work out for me so am back on the injection routine again, naturally I was a bit disappointed - hate to go back to the needle business, but I guess I'm STUCK WITH IT.! Ha Ha J-O-K-E.!!
    Please thank your Cousin Marie for the opportunity to look at her collection of stills - much appreciated - intend to write her soon. a little early, but Eda joins in wishing you all a very Merry Xmas, may the New Year bring you lots of good health, Happiness & success.
    Take care - God Bless.
                As ever:
Stan Signature                 STAN LAUREL.


OCEANA LETTERHEAD - 849 OCEAN AVE., SANTA MONICA, CA - TYPEWRITTEN

My Doctor switched me from insulin to tablets for about a week. They didn’t work for me so am back on the injection routine again. Hated to go back to the needle. Guess I’M STUCK with it!

Stan Laurel

                NOVEMBER 27th.'61.
Dear Granny & Gramp [Jennie & Jack Racey]:
    Congratulations on the arrival of your Grandaughter Susan Leslie - am sure you are all thrilled & happy over the wonderful event. Please convey our congrats too to Lincoln & Barbara, may Susan bring them lots of happiness.
    Note you're having trouble with your Hip Jack, probably you're overdoing that therapy business & its too strenuous for you, I doubt if its necessary to continue taking the treatments so often, your schedule should be cut down - tell that leg Pulling merchant to lay off of you for a while. "...
    I have'nt had any further trouble with the High Blood Pressure nonsense but my eye still refuses to look at me - frankly I'd forgotten about it till you mentioned it.!
    Note the market prices are getting higher in your area, the cost of living is shocking out here, I do'nt know how medium price workers with large families manage to live - the packaging of foodstuffs gets more elaborate & the contents are less than ever. Its really a serious situation. I do'nt think this give-away & sales coupons give you any advantage in saving money-- the covered charges take care of that racket, you get NOTHING for free these days. You new Nurse sounds to be quite a character when she's out of uniform - thats strange to dress like that on the street. Did I tell you my Dr. switched me from insulin to Tablets for about a week - they did'nt work for me so am back on the injection routine again - hated to go back to the needle - guess I'M STUCK with it.! (Joke.) Hope your test wo'nt be too bad, but I'd still insist being examined in the Basement, why take chances?
    Not much new to tell you, so bye for now. Eda joins in kind thoughts & every good wish to you all.
    God Bless.
                As ever:
Stan Signature                 STAN LAUREL.


OCEANA LETTERHEAD - 849 OCEAN AVE., SANTA MONICA, CA - TYPEWRITTEN

I was touched by Jack Paar’s nice tribute he paid me—so unexpected—a pleasant surprise, indeed.

Stan Laurel

                NOV. 29th.'61.
Dear Wayne Martin:
                Thanks yours,28th.inst.
Yes, I was touched by Jack Paar's nice tribute he paid me, so unexpected - a pleasant surprise indeed.
    So sorry to note you are still unemployed, I imagine its pretty difficult to find work at this time of the year especially - anyway hope something will turn up for you real soon, am sure you must have several irons in the fire.
    Wish you lots of good luck - A Merry Xmas & a happy prosperous New Year.
    Take care - God Bless.
                Sincerely always:
Stan Laurel Signature                 STAN LAUREL.


OCEANA LETTERHEAD - 849 OCEAN AVE., SANTA MONICA, CA - TYPEWRITTEN

                NOVEMBER 29th.'61.
Dear Lillie Wray:
    Thanks your nice note with enclosure of news article regarding Roland Park's early day radio activities - very interesting. Nice to hear from you again & to know alls well with you - I'll take this opportunity to wish you & yours a Very Merry Xmas, lots of good health, success & happiness in 1962.
    Good luck & God Bless.
                Sincerely as ever:
Stan Laurel Signature                 STAN LAUREL.

'GAN ON SHIELS'!!!


An Interview with John McCabe

By Alonso Lasso

What are your earliest memories of Laurel and Hardy?

I saw them in our neighborhood theatre when I lived in Detroit. This was in the days of the shorts, of the two-reelers and three-reelers so this would be the mid-Thirties. I gradually began to realize that they were a genuine pattern in my life inasmuch as I always looked forward eagerly to a Laurel and Hardy Film. A Laurel and Hardy film was an at home session in that I felt they were a part of my family. I really felt that very, very close to them; it was a cozy, familiar feeling. So in later years when I was in England doing the work on my PhD and I had a chance to see them in person it was an absolutely knockout situation for me.

One of the most delightful stories in Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy concerns the chance meeting in England. Could you tell us about that meeting?

Yes. I was walking down the street in Birmingham which was the largest city near where I was then living, Stratford-on-Avon. I was doing my PhD work at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford but I had to go in every week to the University of Birmingham Library. As I was going by a Birmingham theatre one day I saw a billing: Laurel and Hardy in “Birds of a Feather.”
    I thought at first it was a film but I knew the names of all their films and this certainly wasn’t one. Then I realized the theatre was the Hippodrome, a music hall or vaudeville house. I went in and was thrilled to see Laurel and Hardy in their little twenty minute sketch and I started to go back to Stratford when I thought maybe shouldn’t I just drop in backstage and see if I can just shake their hand or do something like that? I really couldn’t make up my mind so I flipped a coin and the coin said I should go backstage as indeed I did and first met the Hardys. They were most pleasant. (I just had the stage door man say an American student is here who admired them for many years.
    The Hardys were in Babe’s dressing room, most cordial to a perfect stranger. Then I went over to meet Stan and he was by himself, something I was happy to take advantage of: I sensed that he was a little lonely. His wife had gone to Paris for that week to visit relatives she hadn't seen for many years. I started to talk to Stan about the comedies and how much they meant to me and because I had been for many years a performer, an actor who played a lot of comedy, I began to ask him questions geared professionally to the crafting of the gags and their execution.
    He was happy to answer those questions because they were right up his alley. They were things that he knew of course not only as a great practitioner of comedy but as a great craftsman of comedy. He loved to contemplate the way a gag could be crafted.
    I asked him many questions along that line and we spent about an hour which greatly thrilled me. Then he said, “Next time you’re in town, why not drop in and see me again?” So I said, “The next time I am in town is tomorrow and I would like to see you but I don’t want to make a nuisance of myself.” He said, “Not at all.” So it went on day in and day out for some days—and every evening when I got back to Stratford I would jot down notes on what he had said. Enough notes accumulated to the point where I realized I probably had the making of a book. I talked to him about it.
    This was some months late when he was still on tour in another part of England. I went up north to see him and said I wondered if he would be interested in a book. At that time I had never written a book. But had an idea that a book about their work would be especially interesting.
    Stan said he especially liked the idea that this was not going to be about their lives. I got the very strong flavor that he did not want a biography and after I got into his life more and more I began to realize why. Because of the marital mixups which were not at all scandalous but the result of what I can seriously call an excess of amiability in his character. He became, I think the victim of some ladies and surely of himself.
    So my first book concentrated on the making of their films, on their professional life with barely enough of the personal to get by. I said, “Stan, I’ve got to say something about the marriages.” So I made up a sentence which would cover it quickly but, as you can see, one sentence out of one book is not very illustrative of a man's personal life. I was able to do that, of course, later on in The Comedy World of Stan Laurel, after he had gone.

What do you think was the secret to the two men having worked together for so many years with few instances of rancor or bitterness?

It was an ideal relationship professionally because this was a partnership absolutely equal in terms of talent. That is, I don’t think anyone in the world can say that Babe Hardy was better than Stan Laurel or vice versa. They both realized this and everybody realized it. And in crafting the material, Stan loved to do this, and Babe Hardy had other things to do. He was much more socially minded than Stan. He loved to golf, he loved to dance, he loved to play cards, he loved to go out to his beloved Lakeside Country Club every day or almost every day. So at around three thirty in the afternoon that's where he’d go—at a time when Stan would begin almost another full day’s work looking at the dailies, looking at various material they were thinking of for the films, and editing the film and so on.

Was Stan actively involved in the cutting of the films?

Yes. He would be in the room with the actual film editor and he would go over all the footage. He would screen it on a Movieola or he would run in one of the screens and he would absolutely be the one who would cut—not physically, of course, the editor would do that—but Stan would determine the length and sequence of the shots and so on. Yes, Stan was very much concerned with that and moreover he was very adept at it.

How did the Laurel and Hardy repertory company come to pass? That wonderful cast of characters such as Fin, Mae Busch, and others?

Actually, it wasn’t the Laurel and Hardy repertory company so much as it was the Roach company. The performers gathered there were all pros. They had all been in comedy in various ways and many of them were there making their own comedies. For instance, Charlie Chase. Charlie Chase earned his reputation or the beginning of it with Chaplin and Keystone. There was Finlayson, an old stager from way back, and many other very talented people who had played in vaudeville, such a great training ground for comic talent.
    There were people like Billy Gilbert, a very creative person; and Mae Busch a very talented lady who could play virtually anything. She had played serious stuff with Erich von Stroheim for instance. Overall at Roach was an accumulation of extremely talented people who were not stars but who were very, very adept at doing virtually anything. It was really a Roach stock company. And as you can see when you watch (as I still do frequently) the Roach “Our Gang” shows where you find Billy Gilbert, Harry Bernard, Edgar Kennedy, and numerous other people who played with Laurel and Hardy. It was a very warm place to be.
    I met again this year that lovely lady, Rosina Lawrence, who as you know played the lead in Way Out West" with Laurel and Hardy. Rosina was telling me that the Roach lot was a very warm place. That is, people liked each other which is the secret of success I think almost anywhere. There was hardly any jealousy at all. In fact, she told me there just wasn’t any. You never felt that kind of push to get ahead and to out out the other guy. Some of this, maybe most of this, was due to Hal Roach himself. He was a very amiable man and fortunately he had the good sense to realize that if he hired competent people and let them alone to do their work as they saw fit, all would be well. He always had very competent people working for him.
    In the early days especially, it was Dick Jones, a genius at putting film tether, and a good crew of gag men headed by a fellow named Carl Harbaugh. Good writers like H. M. “Beanie” Walker and Frank Butler. Frank Butler directed one of the early Laurel and Hardy films and ultimately came to write the “Road” shows, the “Road” pictures for Hope and Crosby. Then there was the great Leo McCarey, who was responsible for fitting Laurel and Hardy together. All in all, a very talented crew. And Laurel and Hardy, of course, were happy to use these people, as they did all the time.

In your second book, you emphasized Stan’s creativity. Do you feel Stan has been given enough credit for his lasting contributions to the art of film comedy?

Well, I think he’s given enough credit in respect to what he expected from it. That is, it was always known in the profession that he was the operative person creatively there, and since his death I think recognition has come. I think principally, if I may say so, through my books and my determination to reveal that creativity is why I wrote the books in the first place.
    There is in the works now, by the way, a very detailed personal biography of Stan being written by Fred Lawrence Guiles, the biographer of Marilyn Monroe and Marion Davies. Fred just sent me the first draft of the first three hundred pages to look over. It is going to be a detailed biography and I am happy to help him. In fact he will be up here later this summer to go over the final manuscript with me. His book will show much more fully than I have done Stan’s personal life. It will bring up things that I never brought up although of course I had knowledge of them. The tangled marital discords and a slight drinking problem.
    The reason I never went into them is that frankly I loved the man too much and just couldn’t do it. This may be a weakness for a biographer, I don’t know. Not that Fred doesn’t feel affection for Stan; these things happen to have been true—and the truth should always be known no matter how harsh it might seem to be. But I’m not the one to say it about Stan’s private life.

In the later years, did Babe Hardy ever express a wish that he had been more creatively involved in the films?

Oh, no he was perfectly satisfied. That’s why the team was in such a state of harmony. He was perfectly content. He’d have ideas from time to time and would express them. They would be listened to with great attention and respect. He felt that he was doing what he should be doing. Incredibly, he thought of himself as a straight man more than a comedian. What he meant by that was that he felt he was really more of an actor than a professional comic and that’s certainly borne out by the fact that he was able to create that tremendous character of his so beautifully and so humorously.

Forgetting for the moment the later films made for M-G-M and “Atoll K,” when you watched the films with Stan, did he ever talk about wishing a certain sequence had been done differently or that he would have done the cutting another way? Was he the sort of artist who never was satisfied with his efforts?

Not really. He was quite happy with what had been done. He would feel at times that there should have been a little more attention paid to some aspect of production. But the thing he resented bitterly—and one can absolutely share his feeling—is when a particular thing he had worked out was cut out capriciously, as the famous instance in “Swiss Miss” where the bomb was planted in the piano, and the sequence cut; So you now have this meaningless shot of Stan crashing against the piano. Of course, he was supposed to be drunk but a vital dimension of the scene is gone—and he would wince every time he saw it He said, “Now, why they ever cut that, I will never know.” Sometimes this happened after he had gone away on holiday and when he came back the release print had such a cut. I think why such cuts happened was because Roach features booked through Metro had to conform to a certain time.
    They couldn’t go over a certain time limit and thus the cut. But that was a wretched thing to do. They could have cut something else other than the bomb plant scene for instance. And later in “Swiss Miss” that lovely little, enchanting little ten minute patter song between Stan and Babe and Charles Judels who played the man who sells the cheese. They had a marvelous little song about the varieties of traps, mouse traps—and that ten minute beauty was hacked down to about thirty seconds. What was left was just the tag end of that lovely song.

In your opinion, what is their single best sequence or maybe a sequence that is repeated in several films?

It is so difficult to answer because I have so many I love and they’re all so beautifully done. I suppose the one that always makes me laugh the most is the strangled rhetoric bit when Stan explains something and then Babe says “Let me have that again!” and Stan comes up with a weird transmutation of his original and then Babe says “That’s a good idea!” I love those bits dearly.

What do you think is their best overall film, either feature length or short?

Well, again one goes into personal taste and I suppose it is always connected with memories of your family watching it with you or something like that. I would feel very deprived if I didn’t have “Swiss Miss.” I must say I also love “Way Out West.” One has to answer that question in the way a mother answers “Who’s your favorite child?” There is no such thing; you love them all and are aware of the defects and the virtues in them all.

How do you think the television series—which was in the works when Babe had his stroke—would have fared given the boys’ ages and the state of television at the time?

Superb. It would have been great because, first of all, Stan had complete control and he was going to be doing something that he knew very, very well—the English pantomime form. He had many memories of music hall days having been in the business from the age of sixteen.
    Music hall and the English pantomime have all kinds of possibilities for comedy film. I think it probably would have been the best they ever did—and that’s part of the great waste when death comes.
    There’s no question that it would have been a tremendous comeback for them and that these would have been classic stories. I have no doubt as to that.

If you had to talk about one lasting memory, one moment (one each of the boys), what would you choose?

Well, I think that with Babe Hardy it would be his magnificently courtly manners. I remember I went into his dressing room one time with a lady friend and I loved the way he treated her. The only word I can think of is “gallant.” The way he fussed over her. She was no one special, no celebrity, but she was to him. She was a lady. He regarded her as he regarded all women—except floozies—as a lady, so he treated her that way. I recall he offered her a chair with true courtliness, gallantly. That’s the chief word that comes to mind. That’s my strongest memory of him. And of Stan it was always that lovely, superb laugh of his.
    He would say something, something deceptively grave. It would sound for a minute as if he were serious. I would look properly serious to accommodate to this—and then I’d realize he was kidding me. Then he would look at me and break into this delightful horse laugh. It was very loud, had almost a whinny-like quality to it, deeply infectious. You had to laugh not only at what he had said but at his laughter itself. He was a man born for laughter. That’s one of the points I’ve been making to Fred Guiles about Stan’s inherent self.
    My basic biographical viewpoint on most people is that you must get down to a fundamental question, “What is their function in life?” All interesting people do have a function stemming from heredity principally. People who are not happy are those who never realize their function; happy people are those who do. And Stan was supremely happy. He was happy because when he was very young he fell in love with laughter and it was the one love he was true to all of his life. That and the lovely lady he finally married, Ida. In a sense he was paying back God or Destiny for that tremendous gift of being able to craft such magnificent laughter by giving more laughter. So it was a delightful round-robin and we were all blessed for it.

—Classic Film Collector
    Fall 1977

Stan Watermark