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13 November 2014

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You are in: Cumbria > People > Famous Cumbrians > Stan Laurel

Stan adn Ollie

Stan Laurel

Stan Laurel was born Arthur Stanley Jefferson on 16 June 1890. He lived in Ulverston as a child. The town was then very much part of Lancashire - but today we proudly count him as a famous Cumbrian.

Two minutes from the market cross in Ulverston is the small museum dedicated to Stan Laurel who was born in the town. The famous comedian's film career spanned 35 years and an incredible 182 films.

He was the second of five children born to Arthur Jefferson (A.J.) and Margaret (Madge) Metcalfe.

His parents were both in the theatrical business. His father was skilled in all matters of the stage, from acting to make-up and theatre management.

Stan’s early years were spent living with his grandmother, Sarah Metcalfe, in Ulverston.

A plaque on Stan Laurel's house in Ulverston.

Plaque on Stan Laurel's house.

The house on Argyle Street where Stan was born and lived displays a commemorative plaque.

By the early 1900s, Stan had joined his family in Glasgow, and was working in a variety of administrative jobs at his father’s theatre, the Metropole.

His first official stage performance took place when he was 16 years old.
Stan polished his skills at pantomime and the performance of music hall sketches.

In 1910 he made his first trip to America as a member of the Fred Karno musical-comedy troupe, which also included Charlie Chaplin. For some time, he was Chaplin’s understudy.

Stan adopted a stage name as a result of a superstition. His real name - Stan Jefferson - contains the unlucky number of 13 letters. He chose the name Laurel - it is said to have been inspired by a wreath found by his partner and common-law wife, Mae.

He returned to Ulverston with Ollie in 1947. The duo gave a speech from the balcony of the Coronation Hall to a packed crowd below.

In 1961, Stan was honoured by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with an Oscar for his creative pioneering in the field of comedy. Stan's only regret was that Oliver was not there to share in the recognition.

Stan himself died on 23 February 1965 after suffering a heart attack.

The Laurel & Hardey Museum

The Laurel & Hardy Museum

Sons of the Desert

This isn't the name for a foreign legion - the Sons of the Desert is the most famous Laurel and Hardy appreciation society.

The name comes from a fictional lodge to which Stan and Ollie pledge allegiance in their 1933 feature film of the same name.

The society has been running for decades and has huge legions ('scuse pun) of members from all over the world. Local branches are called 'tents'.

Contact details:

The Laurel and Hardy Museum
4c Upper Brook Street
LA12 7BH
Tel: 01229 582292
{Upper Brook Street is off King Street.]

How to get to Ulverston

By car: The town is around 35 miles from Junction 36 on the M6. Turn left onto the A590 (for Barrow) and follow signs for Barrow and Ulverston. The museum is clearly signposted.

By train: Ulverston train station is a stone's throw from the museum - trains leave regularly from Lancaster and Barrow.

Market days: Thursday and Saturday.

last updated: 03/04/2009 at 11:27
created: 27/03/2006

You are in: Cumbria > People > Famous Cumbrians > Stan Laurel

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