Classic Movie Comedy Duos

Posted on 14 Mar 00:00


When it comes to making a classic comedy that will thrill people and make them keel over in laughter, then these duo's are the best in the game from yesteryear.

  1. Laurel and Hardy

Laurel and Hardy started their comedy act when the classical Hollywood era was just starting. The duo included Stan Laurel who was born in 1890 and Oliver Hardy born in 1892.

They were very popular in the late 1920s because of their slapstick comedy. As a duo, Hardy was the pompous bully while Laurel was his childish and clumsy friend. They made their appearances with a signature tune which marked their entry called the 'Cuckoo Song'. It became a marker just like their bowler hats. Some of the movies they did together include Brats, The Music Box, County Hospital, Helpmates, Their First Mistake, Way Out West, Sons of the Desert and Flying Deuces.

After a long time of being part of the duo, Stan Laurel was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 1961 for being a pioneer in comedy. Laurel entered into four marriages and he even married one of his wives a second time after they had been divorced. He had a daughter from his first wife and named her Lois. His second child, Stanley, died nine days after his birth. Laurel was a heavy smoker but he quit unexpectedly in 1960. He suffered a heart attack for four days and died afterward on 23 February 1965.

His partner Oliver was confined to his bed because of a major stroke which left him incapable of speaking. His wife Lucille lovingly cared for him. He died August 7, 1957, after suffering stroke attacks which led to cerebral thrombosis.

  1. Abbot and Costello

Their real names, Bud Abbot and Lou Costello were the most famous comedy team during the 1940s until the late 1950s. They were very popular on both radio and in film. Their most popular routine called 'Who's on First?'  was loved worldwide, and became the foundation for their other comedy shows.

They both married performers. Abbott adopted two children with his dancer wife, Betty Smith, while Costello and his wife, Anne, had four children. Their popularity started to decline in the late 1950s due to the arrival of other comedy duos and overexposure. The duo released by Universal in 1955 because they could not reach agreement on terms of the contract. They struggled financially due to back taxes, and sadly, had to sell their homes, the rights to many of their films and other assets.

They later made an independent film, Dance with Me in 1956, after which they formally went their separate ways in 1957. Costello made appearances alone on The Steve Allen Show. He performed some of their old routines. In Las Vegas, he did stand-up comedy. After finishing his solo movie, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock on March 3, 1959, he died of a heart attack.

Meanwhile, after their separation, Abbott paired with Candy Candido in 1960. He quit despite the good reviews because he felt Lou was irreplaceable. The General Electric Theater aired in 1961 and Abbott performed a dramatic show. In 1966, he was the voice of his character in an Abbott and Costello cartoon by Hanna-Barbera. Cancer claimed his life on April 24, 1974.

  1. Burns and Allen

Their real names were Nathan Birnbaum (George Buns) and Gracie Allen. They performed on television, radio, film, and Vaudeville for more than forty years. George was born on January 20, 1896, and Grace was born on July 26, 1902.

They married in 1926 four years after they met and started their comedy act. Burns character was the straight man and Allen was the brainless, confused woman. Some of the movies they made are 'Lamb Chops', A Damsel in Distress', and 'The Big Broadcast' which included sequels.

They began their Burns and Allen Show in 1936 with NBC and CBS until it was canceled in 1950. They moved on to television with the same show in 1950 though 1958.

Their radio show and television show were inducted into their respective Halls of Fame in 1994 and 1998. They won 11 Prime Time Emmy Award nominations with their TV series. Grace died on August 27, 1964. After her death, Burns solo performed as a comedic actor in movies and as a stand up comedian. At 80, he won an Academy Award. Burns died on March 9, 1996, at 100.

  1. Martin and Lewis

Jerry Lewis' real name is Joseph Levitch, born on March 16, 1926. He married twice and had 8 children.

His partner, Dean Martin, was born on June 7, 1917. Dean and Jerry met on the nightclub circuit where Martin got a contract with MCA to sing in New York City. They began to perform comedy shows for both film, television and radio. When they parted ways in 1956, the Rat Pack inducted Martin to perform with them in Las Vegas shows. He also gained fame as a recording artist and starred in his own a television series, The Dean Martin Show  (1965 to 1974).  Dean died on December 25, 1995.

Lewis continued working in films for Paramount Pictures, and directed some of his own films. He died on 20th August 2017 from cardiac disease. Jerry legacy, besides his comedy genius, is hosting of the popular telethon for muscular dystrophy, The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon.

 Bob Hope and Bing Crosby

Bob Hope's real name was Leslie Townes Hope, born on May 29, 1903. He began his long career as a stand-up comedian. He was also a accomplished singer, athlete, dancer, author and actor. He appeared in over 70 feature films. His career lasted almost 80 years. He also lovingly remembered for contantly traveling the world boosting the morale of American troops with is shows for over 50 years, Bob Hope's USO Shows.

Bing Crosby his partner, born on May 3, 1903, as Harry Lillis 'Bing' Crosby Jr. He was both an actor and a popular singer/crooner. Before his death in 1977, October 14 he and Hope had produced the 'road songs'. Crosby was married twice and had seven children.

Some of the duo's well known 'road songs' are:

Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar Road to Rio, Road to Utopia, Road to Bali, The Road to Hong Kong, Road to Morocco.

  1. Pete and Dud

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were the team known as the comedy duo,  Pete and Dud. Peter Edward Cook, born on 17 November 1937, was a comedy actor and an English satirist. His partner Dudley Stuart John Moore, born on 19 April 1935, was a comedian, actor, composer and musician. They began theirshows in 1964 after an invitation by Dudley Moore invited Peter Cook to join him performing. They were an instant hit with the audience.

Peter married three times. He had two daughters from his first marriage. He died on 9 January 1995 after suffering a gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Moore went on to a long and lucrative film career. He married, and eventually had four divorces. He died on 27 March 2002. He is best known for the movies, '10' (1979) with Bo Derek and 'Arthur' (1981).

  1. Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder, real name, Jerome Silberman, born June 11, 1933 and died August 29, 2016, and his partner Richard Pryor, real name, Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor, born December 1, 1940, and  died December 10, 2005 were one of the best and funniest comedy duos in history.

They starred in four movies together; Silver Streak, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy and Another You. Gene Wilder married four times (one of his wives, Gilda Radner), Richard Pryor married six times and had seven children. There movies are comedy 'gold' and should not be missed.

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