1956 Home Movie: Laurel & Hardy Together for the Last Time

There is no exact date for this silent home movie shot at the Rese­da, CA home of Stan Lau­rel’s daugh­ter, Lois. But the year must have been 1956, because, dur­ing that year, Oliv­er Hardy, the oth­er mem­ber of the great com­ic duo, lost more than 150 pounds, result­ing in a com­plete change of his out­ward appear­ance. Hardy had a mild heart attack in 1954 and start­ed look­ing after his health. But let­ters by Stan Lau­rel indi­cate that Oliv­er was also suf­fer­ing from can­cer. In Sep­tem­ber 1956 — prob­a­bly not long after this movie was made — Oliv­er suf­fered a major stroke, which left him unable to speak and con­fined to bed for sev­er­al months. Then, at the begin­ning of August 1957, he had two more strokes and slipped into a coma from which he nev­er recov­ered. He died on August 7 that year.

Exact­ly one week after Oliv­er’s death, Stan gave a rare radio inter­view and recount­ed the moment when he and Oliv­er met for the first time. The full, one-hour inter­view can be enjoyed here. Stan died on 23 Feb­ru­ary 1965 after suf­fer­ing a heart attack of his own. He was buried at For­est Park Memo­r­i­al Park in Bur­bank. Footage from the funer­al shows celebri­ties such as Dick Van Dyke, Buster Keaton and George Chan­dler in atten­dance. Stan’s friend Dick Van Dyke deliv­ered this mov­ing eulo­gy.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.