Travel: Laughs at the Laurel and Hardy Museum
by The Press and Standard | January 25, 2019 5:00 pm
Last Updated: January 23, 2019 at 1:13 pm
Story and photos by MARY GALLAGHER
“Well, this is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into Stanley!”
If you remember those few words you know who said them and why!
Part of the fun of growing up is creating happy memories that last a lifetime. Dating myself a bit, I have no keener memory than watching the antics of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, the hilarious comedy duo. And yes, Ollie (Oliver) said those words.
As a kid, either at the theater or on television at home, watching them in one of their classic movies, I enjoyed their zaniness, perfect comedic timing and action that created barrels of laughter.
And speaking of barrels, Oliver Hardy was the rather rotund half of the team, as Stan Laurel was on the thin side, to say the least.
Today with the wonders of smart televisions, YouTube and Netflix, you can easily have a great afternoon or evening of viewing.
While Stan Laurel was born in England and raised in Scotland, Oliver Hardy was a “good ole Georgia boy” born in Harlem, Ga. And guess what? That’s where the fun Laurel and Hardy Museum is located.
Charming Harlem, Ga., is outside Augusta (of golf fame), in fast-growing Columbia County, Ga., and just two hours 16 minutes (120.6 mi) via SC-125 N from Walterboro.
Stan Laurel and Oliver (nickname Babe) Hardy were one of the most famous comedy teams in the world during their 25-year run from 1926-1951 when they both semi-retired due to illness. The boys are still a favorite today when selecting older comedy movies to watch. Hardy died in 1956 and Laurel in 1965.
Entering the museum, you’re greeted by life-size cutouts of Ollie and Stan and it’s your first photo-op. A feast for the eyes follows with awesome memorabilia from their over 107 films on display, including their trademark bowler hats. Our favorite “memento” was taking photos sitting in the back half of an old 1930s convertible automobile while Ollie and Stan drive.
The museum also has a small “theater” where during visitor hours some of the classic Laurel and Hardy movies can be viewed on a large screen. It’s easy to find just follow the viewing visitors’ laughter.
The museum staff and volunteers are very welcoming with a wealth of information and interesting bits. We enjoyed hearing them answer questions from other tourists too. There also is a small gift shop to pick up souvenirs.
Every fall, you can celebrate and remember Oliver Hardy at the Oliver Hardy Festival, along with 35,000 of his other fans in Harlem, featuring a parade plus fun-filled activities for the whole family including a Look-A-Like contest, music, arts and crafts. Of course, there’s food and Babe’s Bijou Movie Theater. (Babe was Oliver Hardy’s nickname). Check the museum’s Facebook page for exact festival dates. See this YouTube coverage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpCVMoWtNHc&t=2s
Accessibility is quite good with a flat sidewalk up to the front door. The museum is probably a little tight for an electric scooter and impossible if crowded. Exhibits can have some smaller details although the space is bright and well lit. Restrooms are on the main floor but I’m not sure of door width. Allow about an hour for your visit, depending on interest and if you watch some films. Free entry with donations appreciated and free parking.
For a few laughs for new and old fans, the Laurel and Hardy Museum is well worth coming off the highway for a visit.
Laurel and Hardy Museum
Address : 250 N Louisville St., Harlem, Ga. 30814
Hours : Be sure to call.
Phone : (706) 556-0401