Stan Laurel’s heartbreak at Oliver Hardy’s death revealed in letters up for auction
The comedy legend wrote to a cousin in his home town Ulverston, Cumbria, describing the “terrible loss” of his movie partner
Hollywood legend Stan Laurel told how he was ‘lost’ after the death of Oliver Hardy in an amazing collection of letters which are about to go on sale in Britain.ADVERTISINGinRead invented by Teads
The type-written correspondence, written by Stan to his cousin in Cumbria are expected to generate huge interest when are auctioned in Newcastle.
In them he writes of the ‘terrible’ loss of his comedy partner, and life after Oliver’s death on August 7, 1957.
He tells his cousin Nellie Bushby: “Deeply appreciated your kind sympathy over the death of my dear Pal, it was a great shock to me even though I had been notified the day before that the end was near.
“I miss him terribly and feel quite lost – can’t realise that he has gone.
“He suffered a great deal these last few weeks due to a cancer condition, so I feel it was a blessing he was taken out of his misery and pain. A sad end to a wonderful career, God bless him.”
Earlier, he had confided that the illness of his comic partner had seen him lose 10 stones in weight. It also left Stan with ‘very little work to do now’ as he moved into a smaller house with his wife Eda in Malibu, California in the summer of ‘57.
A total of 41 letters sent to Nellie in Ulverston – Stan’s birthplace – between May 1947 and January 1965 are going under the hammer. A letter to Nellie from Oliver Hardy’s widow Lucille is also for sale.
The widow tells of the star’s great suffering in the final months before he died. On October 20, 1957, she wrote: “It was a blessed release for My Darling Babe.
“He had been ill for two years before the stroke in September last year and had been in and out of the hospital so many times with a series of heart attacks…
“Then the stroke hit, leaving him paralysed and bed ridden, requiring constant care from nurses twenty-four hours a day. From the start the doctors and nurses told me there was no hope… hard it is to face, I thank God for his mercy.”
The collection will be sold at Anderson & Garland in Newcastle on September 15-17. Auctioneer Fred Wyrley-Birch said: “They had spent so much of their lives together, which is what made it such a sad situation for Stan Laurel.
“For me, the family collection is the most interesting I have ever come across because of the amount of personal detail.”
Last year, the auction house sold a single letter written by Laurel to the wife of a boyhood pal for £1,400. The latest collection, sold on behalf of collectors Rodney and Margaret Hardcastle, is expected to sell for up to £12,000.
Rodney, a theatre buff, became interested in Laurel and Hardy as a child.
He and his wife built up a huge collection relating to the comedy duo over 40 years.
Margaret said: “It is a fascinating collection. We have always valued the letters, not in a financial sense, but through being able to have them.
“We bought them at Sotheby’s in the late 1990s. We could not go to the auction because of work, but were delighted to get them.”
Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston in 1890, and died in America in 1965. He appeared in more than 100 short films, feature films and cameos with Oliver Hardy.
One of these letters was written only days before his own death. Other subjects included the death of George VI and succession of Elizabeth II, sailing on the Queen Mary at the same time as Winston Churchill,and family matters.