Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy by Simon Louvish is the definitive biography of the world's most enduringly popular comedy duo.
Simon Louvish was born in Glasgow in 1947 and misspent his youth growing up in Israel between 1949 and 1968, including a stint as an army cameraman from 1965 to 1967.Having decamped to the London School of Film Technique in 1968, Simon became involved in the production of a series of independent documentary films about apartheid in South Africa, dictatorship in Greece, and general mayhem in Israel-Palestine from 1969 to 1973. He also published a memoir of his Israeli days entitled A Moment of Silence in 1979.>Since 1985 Simon has published a series of novels set mainly in the Middle East, including the acclaimed Blok trilogy (The Therapy of Avram Blok, City of Blok and The Last Trump of Avram Blok), and a number of thrillers and fantasies, including The Death of Moishe-Ganef, The Silencer, Resurrections from the Dustbin of History, and What's Up, God?. His most recent Middle East novel, The Days of Mirac
Louvish has written a biography of Laurel and Hardy that brims with affection and still preserves an honest, unbiased view of their creativity and personal traumas. He presents a fully rounded, well-paced portrait of their contrasting backgrounds (Laurel was born in England; Hardy in Georgia), early separate careers and eventual union in a Hal Roach production, 45 Minutes from Hollywood, in 1926. Roach claimed to have discovered them before reluctantly conceding partial credit to Leo McCarey, who directed many of the duo's best movies. After appearances in five undistinguished pictures, their careers soared with such classics as Duck Soup (not to be confused with the Marx Brothers version) and The Second Hundred Years. The two saw themselves as working actors who happened to hit on an incredible streak of good luck. However, their off-camera lives were anything but lucky, and Louvish, in his chapter "Multiple Whoopee or Wives and Woes," poignantly chronicles each man's domestic catastrophes, with particularly painful emphasis on Hardy's marriage to his alcoholic second wife, Myrtle Lee. Laurel, after four disastrous unions, finally found happiness with Russian opera singer Ida Kitaeva Raphael. Thanks to Louvish's erudite yet accessible style, in-depth studies of Laurel and Hardy films are even more absorbing to read than their marital conflicts. A touching example of Louvish's deep feeling for his subjects occurs when he describes Hardy's huge 150-pound weight loss, in which he concludes, "it probably never occurred to Oliver Hardy that his fans actually considered him beautiful." It's clear the author does, and this tender admiration invites the reader to share his view. (Dec.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
'This is as close as it comes to a definitive biography and filmography of Laurel and Hardy, and as good as writing about Hollywood comedy gets.' Iain Finlayson, The Times; 'An enormous amount to enjoy... contains some of the best and most incisive analysis of their movie magic I've ever read. [Louvish's] joyful descriptions of their finest films are models of clarity, and his sorrow over their decline is movingly expressed'. Bob Monkhouse, Guardian
Generally considered the finest film comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy made their mark in both the silent and the sound eras. While drawing on the efforts of past biographers, Louvish (London International Film Sch.; Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers) delves deeper into the personal and professional lives of this beloved team. He explores the impact of the British music hall tradition on Stanley Jefferson (Laurel), whose father wrote plays and skits and ran theaters, and the early cinema's influence on Oliver Norvell Hardy, who at 18 was taking tickets and projecting films in Milledgeville, GA's Electric Theater. Though both came to work at Hal Roach Studios, it wasn't until 1927 that Laurel and Hardy engaged in their first team effort: Duck Soup (not to be confused with the Marx Brothers' vehicle). After such high points as Sons of the Desert (1934), an artistic decline began owing to the team's age, bad scripts, exiting Hal Roach, and new satirical comedy styles from Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges. Louvish has digested films, reviews, and interviews with those who knew the pair to reach entirely reasonable conclusions and create fully realized human beings. This definitive treatment is recommended for public and academic libraries, as well as special film collections.-Kim Holston, American Inst. for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.