Stan Laurel's secret jibes at 'mean, cheap' Charlie Chaplin: How the relationship between the two slapstick actors was no laughing matter

  • Laurel and Chaplin shared a room together when they toured the US together?
  • In a letter from 1957 Laurel describes Chaplin as having 'signs of insanity'
  • He also discussed the comedian's 'eccentric character' and 'many moods'?

Think of Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin and most of us will smile at the memory of their brilliant slapstick.

But it seems the relationship between the pair – who shared a room together when they toured the US – was no bundle of laughs.

In a letter written 60 years ago which has just come to light, Cumbrian-born Laurel described Chaplin as 'mean and cheap' with 'signs of insanity'.

Laurel was his rival's understudy when they were music hall entertainers for the Fred Karno Company in 1910 and 1912.

It seems the relationship between the pair (Laurel circled left and and Chaplin right in 1910) ? who shared a room together when they toured the US ? was no bundle of laughs

It seems the relationship between the pair (Laurel circled left and and Chaplin right in 1910) – who shared a room together when they toured the US – was no bundle of laughs

In a letter written in 1957, he said: 'I have to agree with you re Chaplin being mean and cheap, he never to my knowledge ever had any consideration [for] anybody – financially or otherwise, he never had any time for any of his close friends who worked with him in the early days. I was closely associated with Charlie for two or three years.

'I was his understudy and shared rooms with him on many occasions, so am fully aware of his idiosyncrasies.'

In a letter written 60 years ago which has just come to light, Cumbrian-born Laurel described Chaplin (pictured) as 'mean and cheap' with 'signs of insanity'

In a letter written 60 years ago which has just come to light, Cumbrian-born Laurel described Chaplin (pictured) as 'mean and cheap' with 'signs of insanity'

Speaking about his mood swings in the letter to a friend Ed Patterson in Hove, East Sussex, he added: 'He was a very eccentric character, composed of many moods, at times signs of insanity, which I think developed further when he gained fame and fortune…'?

But he also acknowledged his genius, continuing: 'To my mind, he is still the greatest artiste in his field.'

Laurel and Hardy expert Roger Robinson was struck by the letter's 'strong' wording: 'That's a surprise as normally Laurel was very diplomatic in the way he put things.'?

The letter is expected to fetch around £1,000 when it is auctioned on December 13 by Bonhams in London.

David Robinson, author of Chaplin's biography, described it as 'extraordinary'.?

He said: 'Stan – whom I once had the pleasure of interviewing – seems to have been a very sweet-natured man, and I think this is evident here, even though he is being critical of Chaplin's private personality.?He still insists his old colleague is the best in the comedy business.?

I am guessing he is replying to his correspondent's complaint that Chaplin has not responded to some plea for help from some old colleague – but that's a guess.'

In a letter (pictured) written in 1957, he said: 'I have to agree with you re Chaplin being mean and cheap, he never to my knowledge ever had any consideration [for] anybody ? financially or otherwise, he never had any time for any of his close friends who worked with him in the early days. I was closely associated with Charlie for two or three years.'

In a letter (pictured) written in 1957, he said: 'I have to agree with you re Chaplin being mean and cheap, he never to my knowledge ever had any consideration [for] anybody – financially or otherwise, he never had any time for any of his close friends who worked with him in the early days. I was closely associated with Charlie for two or three years.'

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