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100 years ago in Spokane: Stan Laurel, of later ‘Laurel & Hardy’ fame, gets skewered by critic

Stan Laurel, half of the future comedic duo Laurel & Hardy, appeared at the Pantages Theater in Spokane on this date 100 years ago.  (S-R archives)

A vaudeville act billed as “Stan and Mae Laurel” appeared at the Pantages Theater in Spokane.

Yes, this was the same Stan Laurel who would become famous six years later as half of the legendary comedy duo, Laurel & Hardy.

In 1921, however, Laurel was not yet a film star. He was performing a variety act with Mae Dahlberg, an Australian singer-dancer-actress. She was also his common-law wife.

The Spokesman-Review’s critic was not impressed by the duo.

“Burlesque that oversteps the limits of good taste too often is presented by Stan and Mae Laurel in their old travesty, ‘No Mother to Guide Her.’ Laurel is the liquorish musical hall type of burlesque comedian, clever in his way, and his partner plays straight. The vampire number is overplayed and underdressed.”

From the booze beat: Prohibition had been a boon to the Spokane County Sheriff’s revenues.

In the first seven months of 1921, Sheriff Long had collected $21,000 in confiscated booze. The department didn’t keep all of that money – it was entitled to half, for use in prosecuting booze cases. The department had already sent $3,775 to the state’s education fund in Olympia.

“This record is due to the large amount of work we do running down the stills,” Long said. “The men often work night and day in causing the arrests and getting the liquor. I hope that no one will get thirsty when he sees what a stock of liquor we have seized.”

The 1921 haul so far consisted of 1,020 quarts of “fancy whisky,” 1,618 bottles of beer, 40 quarts of wine and two quarts of gin.

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