Laurel and Hardy: when Masons know how to let you laugh
The February 23, 1965 died Arthur Stanley Jefferson, better known as Stan Laurel, with Oliver Norvell Hardy member of the most famous comedy duo of all time, Laurel & Hardy, that in a career lasting from 1921 to 1951 played 109 movies.
A duo which was able to give life, along with other famous names of the "golden age" of American comedy films like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and the Marx Brothers, to its own comic genre, the “slapstick comedy” based on body language and full of gags.
Oliver Hardy knew the handshakes code
But perhaps not everyone knows that Hardy used another kind of “body language” in his private life, the code of handshakes and body posture used within Freemasonry.
That Hardy was a member of the American Freemasonry would appear obvious even without knowing his story, since after the death on August 7, 1957, he was buried in the Masonic Garden of Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery, among other things, nearby the grave of another of his colleague, Baldwin Cooke, also a great friend of Stan Laurel and who often worked in the duo’s movies.
Hardy was initiated into freemasonry at Solomon Lodge No. 20 Jacksonville, Florida, in the Twenties but it was not to be a big secret if already in 1931 Laurel and Hardy played “Sons of the Desert”, which is considered a parody of the most famous American lodge, the Al Malaikah Shrine Temple.
Not that Hardy was the only mason actor of those years, indeed: also his friend John Wayne was initiated to Marion McDaniel Lodge No. 56, in 1970, later becoming a “shriner” i.e. an affiliate, precisely, of the Al Malaikah Shrine Temple lodge (in his case the Los Angeles section), in the same year.
In addition to his many other great names of American entertainment, including Clark Gable, Harol Loyd, Nat "King" Cole and Glenn Ford, were masons. Their "brotherhood" allows them to achieve fame and success even faster material from other colleagues? It's impossible to prove, and by the way were certainly all men of great talent.
Moreover, the activities of the American freemasonry has always been linked to charities, rather than to attempt to manage the power from behind the scenes, as it imputes to very different secret societies.
Laurel and Hardy, a well-deserved fame
The same Al Malaikah Shrine Temple, founded in 1871 in New York by another American actor, William J. Florence, and which has since spread throughout the United States, is considered a true American institution. In addition it does not appear that Hardy, a close friend of Laurel, ever convinced his friend and colleague to become a mason.
Indeed Laurel, citing health reasons, missing even the secular funeral that followed the burning of Hardy, declaring: “Babe (nicknamed Hardy, ed) would understand”. Masons or not, Lauren and Hardy are still two of the most famous Hollywood stars of all time, and their fame is surely well-deserved.