Laurel, Hardy and me - How one Norwich man met the comedy duo
PUBLISHED: 14:41 25 January 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
They are the comedy duo who made the world laugh for decades. And when they visited Norwich on tour in 1954, they touched the heart of one of the residents.
Tony Cooper was the lucky man who was able to meet Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy 65 years ago.
With that tour currently featuring in the moving hit film Stan and Ollie, Mr Cooper, 78, shared his memories.
He was a regular at the Hippodrome, now Norwich Theatre Royal, and said: “I had been absolutely mesmerised by their performance. Backstage, somebody shouted for them to meet a fan and they appeared just like that.
“I’d never been backstage before but I just had to see them. They both asked how I was and if I enjoyed the show. Ollie did that little wave he does and we all chatted for some time.”
They signed his caricature of them and even finished it off for him. The retired publisher added: “They were as humble as celebrities go; real nice guys.”
Within a few hours, he saw them again walking near to his home.
He added: “I shouted to them and they waved back at me, remembering me from earlier. That wouldn’t happen nowadays with celebrities; they’re always surrounded by bodyguards and never alone.”
Mr Cooper saw the new Stan and Ollie film and thought it was “absolutely brilliant”.
The former jazz promoter said: “I loved how Steve Coogan and John C Reilly portrayed Laurel and Hardy but it was also the cameo appearances that made the film. There was great chemistry and facial expressions from everyone.”
Mr Cooper is such a fan of Laurel and Hardy that he has even visited the Blue Ridge Mountains, and sang the famous Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia once he got to the top. He also added a little dance with it.
Mr Cooper described them as a “double act which has never been repeated”.
He added: “I still laugh at the punch line as if I’ve never heard it. That is true comedy, their timing was perfect - not just anyone could do it.”
Mr Cooper was a regular at the Hippodrome, which he described as “grand and wonderful - I was sorry to see it go.”
The Norwich Hippodrome first opened its doors to the public in 1903 as the Grand Opera House.