Most celebrities aren’t brands. Legendary icons are.
As agents for some of the most legendary icons in history, Beanstalk created its informal “Proust Questionnaire for Personality Brands” to examine how our notable clientele became icons in the first place and how we can help their loved ones frame their long-term legacies.
Coinciding with this month’s release of the feature film Stan & Ollie, we’re focusing on the famous and beloved comedic duo Laurel & Hardy. The originators of 20th century slapstick comedy, the pair became huge international superstars as their films and comics were distributed in dozens of languages from French and Italian to Vietnamese and Farsi.
For this piece, we spoke to Marci Breth-Carabet, the Vice President of Larry Harmon Pictures Corp., which owns the intellectual property rights to Laurel & Hardy.
What about Laurel & Hardy distinguishes them from other comedic legends?
Laurel & Hardy’s unique comedic talents combined with their childlike ways of interacting with each other, all the while maintaining a true and evident friendship, made them endearing to fans worldwide.
Their form of comedy was innocent slapstick and yet very deliberate, though it certainly did not come across premeditated in any way. That is a big portion of what made their comedy so special and unique. As a result, they became international icons and arguably the most famous comedy duo of all time.
What is the greatest virtue of the Laurel & Hardy films?
The perfection in the timing of their comedy—from the physical comedy elements to the interactions between the two of them, as well as with the other actors, along with all of the subtleties that made their comedy so unique and special. It could never be duplicated.
In many ways, they made you feel as though you were in the film with them, experiencing the chaos with them. They created examples of everyday interactions between people and made them truly funny in effortless ways, which created deep connections for people of all ages.
Share five adjectives that best describe Laurel & Hardy from your perspective.
Funny, innocent, creative, talented, thoughtful.
What is the primary message you want to impart about Laurel & Hardy?
These wonderful partners created a legacy in their unique and very special form of comedy that generations of comedians, actors and performers use in their everyday lives today. Laurel & Hardy were able to entertain the world—and still do so after 80+ plus years—making people laugh in the simplest of ways, yet with tremendous grace, kindness and through their strong friendship.
Who or what are barriers to Laurel & Hardy’s sustained legacy?
Unlike nearly all other comedic actors, the legacy of Laurel & Hardy has lasted generations. Their comedy is timeless. The only possible barrier is ensuring new generations have awareness of the greatness of these icons. Thankfully, Stan & Ollie, the new feature film produced by the BBC and Fable Pictures, will help introduce the duo to new audiences worldwide.
What does the legacy of Laurel & Hardy do, right now, in the present tense?
Laurel & Hardy’s timeless humor has influenced and inspired generations of comedians, actors and performers of all kinds during and since their time. Their humor transcended culture, language, class, nationality, race and religion. They brought laughter and warmth to the world, which is so critical today with the many social, political and economic hardships that exist now throughout the world.
What do you like about Laurel & Hardy’s continuing presence in our culture?
Laurel & Hardy’s humor in many ways formed the basis of comedy today, and in doing so, impacted the entertainment industry and our culture in a tremendously positive way forever. The timelessness of their comedy, their innocent wisdom and their acceptance of people of all walks of life make them equally present in our culture today.