- Comedic actor Stan Laurel is born today in 1890
Today (June 16th) we celebrate the birth anniversary of comedic actor, writer, and film director Stan Laurel, born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in England in 1890. Laurel was best known as the first half of the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. They made over a hundred short films and features together, the first of which was the silent film “The Lucky Dog,” released in 1921.
Interestingly, Laurel’s film career was almost over before it even began. Up until 1925, black and white orthochromatic film stock was in common use in Hollywood. Orthochromatic film was not equally sensitive to all the colors in the spectrum, so some colors, like red and black, were represented accurately and others, like blue, were not. Laurel’s eyes were a very light shade of blue and therefore completely washed out on this type of film.
Cameraman George Stevens (later a famous producer/director himself) knew about panchromatic film, which was used less frequently because of its higher price and compatibility issues with orthochromatic film, and was able to track down a supply of it. Panchromatic film was equally sensitive to all the colors in the spectrum, resulting in more accurate color representation and more natural-looking eyes for Laurel.
Stevens became Laurel’s cameraman while the two of them were working for producer/director Hal Roach. When Laurel later teamed up with Oliver Hardy, Stevens was always their cameraman of choice.