Laurel and Hardy
The British Tours
by "A.J." Marriot
with a foreword by Lord Delfont
The description, "Everywhere they went they were mobbed by thousands of screaming, adoring fans" might make one think that the subjects of this book are four mop haired singers from Liverpool, but one would be wrong: for the scenes predate by some thirty years the mob hysteria that came to be known as "Beatlemania," and were caused by the appearances of a skinny little English comedian and a rather large American actor who, together, became the funniest comedy duo of all time.
Remarkably, LAUREL and HARDY The British Tours is the first documentary of their three post-war tours. It covers their shows in detail, including the critical reviews at the time. Every theatre engagement and every act they worked with during the two years in total spent in Britain is recorded, Readers are also given a full account of their travel arrangements, the hotels they stayed in, the people they met, and of Stan's visits to his former homes and the theatres he played as a juvenile.
Television and radio appearances, previously undocumented charity shows, public appearances, and frame by frame accounts of rare film footage are fascinatingly disclosed. Show business celebrities Norman Wisdom, Ray Alan and Peter Goodwright - along with support acts from the Laurel and Hardy shows give anecdotes about these two most respected of comedians and large contributions have been made by the two men responsible for introducing Laurel and Hardy to the British Variety Theatre Lord Delfont and Billy Marsh.
But the book is more than just an extended date sheet; it is an account of the love which the British retained for the two Hollywood comedians after Hollywood had turned its back on them. It is a story of two brilliant performers who had to learn to adapt from film to stage-work, and survive through the changing modes of comedy and the changing moods of theatre audiences.
It is also a story of two men, handicapped by age and illness, overcoming the exhaustion of touring and performing thirteen shows per week. All is brought to light in this engaging book. The early chapters reveal many little known details of the first twenty-two years of Laurels life spent in his home country of England, especially his years touring the British music halls, when he was the unknown comedian Arthur Stanley Jefferson. Many previously unrecorded dates and theatrical reviews of his appearances including those with The Fred Karno Company of Comedians, as understudy to Charlie Chaplin are listed.
The short publicity tour of Britain which Laurel and Hardy made in 1932 is also featured. This whirlwind tour of public appearances between London and Glasgow is recounted so well that the reader will feel he is travelling with them. The crowds of thousands who mobbed Laurel and Hardy, and left them reeling from the onslaught, are graphically described. and the resultant feelings of the two recipients, on discovering for the first time that they were world famous, is admirably narrated.
To compile LAUREL and HARDY The British Tours the author spent hundreds of hours poring over old newspapers, and art equal amount of time in interviewing waitresses, taxi drivers, receptionists, hoteliers, theatre managers, stage staff, and Laurels relatives. Journalists who, in turn, interviewed Laurel and Hardy, and members of the public who met them, all helped to complete the picture of this missing period In the careers of the world's greatest comedy duo.
Laurel and Hardy- The British Tours is extensively illustrated with many previously unpublished photographs, and is the book that every true fan has been waiting for.
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