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Another fine mess: how a comic genius was born

 
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Ross
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 6:11 pm    Post subject: Another fine mess: how a comic genius was born Reply with quote


    Scotland on Sunday reported this splendid story this week...

    Another Fine Mess: how a comic genius was born
    by MARC HORNE


    16-year-old comedy newcomer 'Stan Jefferson' in 1906

    THE battered hat, bent brolly and spats may be unfamiliar, but the mirthful smile and twinkling eyes are unmistakable.

    The remarkable image above of a teenage Stan Laurel depicts him as he made his stage debut in Glasgow.

    The picture also provides the definitive account of the legendary night the lanky funnyman took his first faltering steps into showbusiness.

    It has been published in a new history of Glasgow's Panopticon Music Hall, compiled by Judith Bowers - who is spearheading a campaign to have it restored and re-opened.

    During her research, Bowers discovered a picture of Laurel - then known as Stan Jefferson - dating from 1906 when he was an awkward 16-year-old comedy newcomer. The sepia image came from the collection of Laurel's late biographer John McCabe. "I was originally told that it came from the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Ulverston in Cumbria, but they had never seen it before," said Bowers. "No one really knows how John came to have it."

    The director of the Panopticon Music Hall Trust made it her mission to some shed light on Laurel's first performance.

    And the tale has so fascinated Taggart and Pirates Of The Caribbean star Alex Norton that he has revealed plans to turn it into a TV drama. The book tells how Laurel came to Glasgow with his father, AJ Jefferson, who was the manager of the city's Metropole Music Hall. From the age of 14 he regularly played truant from school to catch the 2.30 matinee at the Panopticon, which was also known as the Britannia. He would watch his favourite comic and memorise not only the jokes but also the facial expressions, costumes, body language and delivery. A month after turning 16, Laurel approached theatre manager AE Pickard and was rewarded with a place on the bill.

    Stan bounded on to stage wearing his father's best silk top hat and suit - which he had borrowed and modified without permission - unaware that his dad was in the front row.

    He began his disastrous stand-up routine with a leaden quip about a butterfly who couldn't attend a dance on the grounds that it was a moth ball. Understandably, his gags did not go down too well.

    "Stan decided it was time to make an exit and took off his hat for a final bow," said Bowers. "In his nervousness he fumbled and dropped the hat. He stepped forward to pick it up, but his foot connected with it and kicked it into the orchestra where it was trampled.

    "He began to side-step off the stage unaware that the stage manager had already begun setting up the next act, which was a trapeze routine. A hook left on the stage behind Stan caught on the back of his father's best silk frock coat and tore it clean up the back. Stan's face was a picture and the audience was sent into hysterics."

    The youngster found himself being commended on his natural comic ability and was given a modest role in a touring pantomime. Within four years he was performing in the States alongside Charlie Chaplin.

    Then in 1917 he made the first of more than 100 film appearances with Oliver Hardy.

    Taggart star Norton - famous for his role as granite-faced lawman DCI Burke - is now looking to bring Laurel's hilarious debut to the small screen. Alex is a member of the Fra Diavolo tent of the sons of the desert based in North Lanarkshire.

    "I am planning to have the script finished within three months," he said. "My biggest challenge will be to find an actor who can play young Stan."


source: http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/entertainment.cfm?id=1819072007
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Neil
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hope he manages to get backing for it , sounds like a great project Very Happy
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Ross
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alex's previous play on Stan was shown on Scottish TV years ago and he currently plays one of Scotlands best loved detectives in a show called Taggart (not sure of you get it way down South) but it's popular up here in Scotland so I'm confident that his project will happen. We are delighted to have Alex as an honorary member of our tent. It's nice to meet a celebrity with a 'true and genuine love of the boys. Watch this space for updates on Alex's project.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about you, Ross, as young Stan ?
There is a likeness there, when you pull Stan's smile. Laughing Laughing
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd love to do something like that John but I'm not sure I'd pass for 16 years old Smile

I do think forum member Drews bears a resemblance to a young Stan though... AND he has the North Shields accent Stan would probably have had at that time.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a variation on the theme....

Stan Laurel's Scots Connection
Nov 24 2007 By Lisa Adams

Scotland shaped so much of the genius that was Stan. Janice
Hawton, chairwoman of the Scottish branch of the Sons Of The Desert
worldwide fan club, which meets regularly to remember the talented
duo, said: "Scotland was where Stan made his first stage appearance,
so we can be very proud of him.

"It says so much about Stan's incredible talent that you can still
enjoy his films today. Stan was the great writer of the Laurel and Hardy partnership. He learned a lot about what is funny by watching people, and by growing up in Glasgow he took alot of his inspiration from Scotland.
He had a great love for Scotland and returned as often as he could."

Today the Panopticon theatre in Argyle Street stands in darkness. It
was boarded up after the curtain went down for the final time in
1938. A campaign has been launched to restore it to its former glory as a
museum recording the city's theatrical past.

Born Arthur Stanley Jefferson, he grew up surrounded by the buzz of
the theatre, moving from England to Burnside on Glasgow's south side
as a teenager.

His father Arthur managed the Metropole Theatre and Stan spent his
school holidays working in the box office.

And classmates at Gallowflat secondary school benefited from his
early comic talent. Janice, of Gourock, said: "Stan was always
imitating the teachers, pulling funny faces and putting shows on. He
must have been really hard work to actually teach."

Stan used to bunk off school to visit the Panoptican. And his dad
admitted how proud he felt of his son's first time on stage.

Arthur said: "He scored a genuine success, finishing up to loud
laughter, applause and even shouts of encore."

But in 1908, Stan's world fell apart when his mum Margaret
Jefferson, a talented actress, died. She was buried in an unmarked
grave in the city's Cathcart Cemetery. Determined to make a fresh
start, Stan left for Hollywood in 1910 to join Fred Karno's group of
actors, which included a talented Charlie Chaplin.

After marrying Mae Dahlberg, he took his first wife's advice to
change to the showbiz name Stan Laurel. The first hint of what
became a legendary partnership came when Stan starred with Oliver
Hardy in a silent movie, A Lucky Dog, in 1918 [ed. actually closer to 1922].

But it was 10 years later [ed. 1926] that the pair teamed up properly, going on to star in an incredible 400 films together ( Embarassed ) [ed. of course, 106] from the silent era to talkies and the arrival of colour.

It would have been so easy to forget about Scotland in the light of
worldwide fame. But he came back in 1932 with Oliver Hardy and
returned three times to the Edinburgh Playhouse and Empire Theatre,
the last in 1954.

An ordinary Scottish upbringing kept his feet on the ground.
Amazingly his phone number was listed in his local Santa Monica
telephone directory, and fans could simply dial the number and find
themselves talking to Stan Laurel.

And unlike today's pampered A-listers, Stan insisted on replying
personally to all fans who wrote to Laurel and Hardy, c/o Hal Roach
Studios.

Stan struck up a remarkable pen pal friendship with a Scottish housewife Walterina Hunter. A collection of 18 letters to her including three signed
photographs recently sold at auction for a cool 2900.

He still hankered after Scotland, writing in 1962 that: "I wish I
were able to come over for the opening of the new Metropole in
Glasgow, but I am afraid my travelling days are over."

Fans' letters reveal comic legend Stan Laurel's love for city where
he made his stage debut. 'Scotland was where Stan made his first stage appearance so we can be very proud of him'


Stan was 74 when he died after a heart attack in February 1965 in
Santa Monica, thousands of miles away from the Scots theatre where
it had all began.

--
passed on from
Bruce Calvert
--
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john-Bogie
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing Thanks for that, Bill, A wonderful post dedicated to Scotland and Stan's early life here. Very Happy Razz
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Mr. Hall
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your welcome, Mr. John Bogie Smile
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