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Laurel & Hardy

Icons of the Century

Stan Laurel had been a British music hall entertainer who made more than 50 silent one- and two-reel comedies, and Georgia-born Oliver Norville Hardy had made five times that amount when Hal Roach put them together in 1926 comedy “Forty-Five Minutes From Hollywood.”

They became arguably the funniest comedy team in movie history, with a slow-build slapstick style that no one has been able to duplicate. They made a number of classics through the 1930s: “Sons of the Desert,” “Babes in Toyland” and “Our Relations” among them (their “The Music Box” won a 1932 Oscar for comedy short).

Ollie, with his pinched, irritable features, was the fussy stentorian know-it-all, and Stan the slow, bumbling innocent who always seemed to come out on top. But Ollie’s authoritarian bulk was airily released in fastidious arabesques, and Stan’s goofy haplessness was so endearing that George Burns once said, “You want to put your arm around him and take him home.”

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