Ask Lois Laurel-Hawes

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.

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I was delighted to find out that Stan Laurel's mother was called Magaret Metcalfe and her father was called George Metcalfe. Just out of interest I am trying to work out if our family is distantly related at all to Stan Laurel, as my grandfather was called George Metcalfe and my mother was Zena Margaret Metcalfe. My grandfather was born in the same town as Stan at a similar time and I know families used to use the same names. Do you have any information about your grandmother Margaret or great grandfather George Metcalfe? With best wishes, Yvette
Yvette Dearden (UK)

Lois replies, "That is most interesting. To explore this question, you should contact my cousin, Nancy Wardell in England."

Dear Lois how is your health? I've written you at 2 addresses and had no reply. You gave me a call in 2008 Im Paul Todd from Hull UK you also sent me a letter and said that you were having trouble with your hands and could not write. In 2011 you mysteriously added yourself to my Facebook and then disappeared I don't know of it was really you or an imposter! This is my last resort of contacting you. All my love. Paul And family
Paul Todd (UK)

Lois answers, "My arthritis prevents me from signing photos that Laurel & Hardy fans send to me. Sorry that I had to return the photos you sent to me about a month ago."

Hello Ms. Laurel-Hawes, I sincerely hope you are well, and thank you in advance for considering my question. As many others have been mentioning here, I am a lifelong fan (50 yrs. worth!) of your father's and 'Uncle Babe'.
I need to set my question up first, and will try to be as brief and succinct as possible.
I had been watching a documentary about Harold Lloyd, in which they interviewed Hal Roach for commentary. In one segment, Hal was talking about how Harold Lloyd had approached him (Roach) about acquiring/buying his films from Roach after they had their distribution run…
Roach's response (I'm paraphrasing here); 'Sure, they have had their run,…they're of no use to me anymore,…and they are just taking up space in the film vault…I'll sell them to you for a Dollar each….but why do you (Lloyd) want them?'
Lloyd's response was: 'Well, I made them/worked on them so, I'd like to have them if you don't want them'…..So, the deal was done…
My question for you is: Did your father do anything similar? Did he retain/buy the reels of films from Roach (or anybody else for that matter) that he worked on? Did he have some similar sense of proprietary feelings for his reels of 'work'?
If he did, …did he keep the cans of films at the house? (thinking about the danger of nitrate films in those days YIKES!)
Health and Happiness Ms. Laurel-Hawes…and Thank You..
P.S….I think I can already guess what Uncle Babe's thoughts on this might have been: 'Nah…I'd rather go golf…Talk to Stan….'
Dan Rogers (Silver Spring, Md. U.S. of A.)

Lois responds, "I do not believe my father ever contemplated acquiring rights to his own work the way Harold Lloyd or Charlie Chaplin did. We never had any such conversations, nor did I ever hear of any such talk."


Dear Mrs. Laurel,
First my sincere appreciation that you, despite your high age, are willing to answer questions about your father who is still loved by so many people. Thank you for that.
I am a Dutch ophthalmologist who is triggered by the running gag in many Laurel and Hardy movies in which they poke each other eyes (especially your father poking Oliver Hardy’s eye, but also the other way around and other people are poked as well, as can be seen in Double Whoopee [1929]).
Performing an action of eye poking would possibly cause a scratch on the cornea of the eye, which is not a serious injury, but could cause temporary complaints like pain, tearing and decreased vision.
It seems that during the poking of your father he aims just above the eye ball and will have touched the orbital bone, which is harmless and practically painless as well.
The questions I would have would be the following:
- do you have any clue how this running gag was invented? Was it invented by your father?
- would you agree that Double Whoopee would be the first movie in which the eye poking was made public or did they do this joke in an earlier performance?
- did this joke ever go wrong (and one of the targets really was hurt in the eye)?
- are you known of any other injuries of your father’s or Mr. Hardy’s eyes (as they also repeatedly show “black eyes” in their movies)?
- are you aware of any other ophthalmic injuries or diseases at all in your father or Mr. Hardy (as, for example, the diabetes in your father could have caused ophthalmic problems)?
Thank you in advance for your time and wishing you the very best,
Very sincerely yours,
Richard Zegers (The Netherlands)

Lois has no idea who first used the eye-poking gag. She has no knowledge of any accidents or injuries involving this gag. "I know my father suffered a burst eye vessel late in life," she said. "But I have no knowledge of what connection this might have had with his diabetic condition. Incidentally, I enjoyed visiting The Netherlands."  








Ask Lois by Richard W. Bann