Ask Lois
by Richard W. Bann

We are pleased to announce a feature where you can pose inquiries to Lois Laurel-Hawes, daughter of Stan Laurel. Is there something you have always wanted to know about the lives and careers of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy?

Please submit your question and we will take the best ones to Lois and reprint her answers here on the website.

 As you can imagine, Lois receives so many letters from Laurel & Hardy fans all over the world. She wishes she could fulfill all the requests for information, memorabilia and appearances, but that objective would require a full time staff to manage effectively! But Lois will be happy to field the most interesting questions you send in about her dad, Stan, and her “Uncle Babe.” We will share her comments with everyone.

Just in casual conversation with Lois over the years, interesting things surface all the time. For instance, one example. Two summers ago I attended a meeting on the Warner Bros. lot in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. It was an extremely hot day. To acknowledge the studio’s storied past, the stages on the Warner lot have plaques posted at the entrances telling about key films shot on each particular stage, including many of the great ones made in the 1930s before air-conditioning. It caused me to wonder, on a really hot day, how could they possibly work?

Later I shared this question, as it related to Hal Roach Studios, over the phone with Lois. Her response revealed something I had never thought of. The Roach lot was “over the hill” on the west side of Los Angeles in Culver City, closer to the ocean. That made the place cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than conditions at the same time in Burbank, where Warners was. Nevertheless, on the really hot days, it can be oppressive even in Culver City.

“You would see and hear these big fans blowing all over on hot days,” Lois explained, “but of course they would have to turn them off for ‘takes,’ you know, when they’d be shooting. Still, if it was hot, Dad, and especially Babe, would have to be ‘mopped’ all the time by the makeup people right before each take. If it was warm outside, it was even warmer inside, because they worked under hot, blinding lights. And remember they were making slapstick comedies at Roach, which called for strenuous physical action, causing that much more perspiration. It was hard work!”

More questions?

 -- Richard W. Bann --