Were Stan and Ollie Anarchists?
Subtitled Hollywood Comedy’s Secret History Exposed, this unpredictable zine contains an interview that “originally appeared in Radical Slapstick magazine and is reprinted here without permission.” Perhaps this is why no editorial names are anywhere to be found. The interviewee is Oxbridge Milhaven, who supposedly worked with many of the best known stars of Hollywoods’s Golden Age of Comedy, among them Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Mae West and W.C. Fields. Without much prodding from the interviewer, Millhaven talks at length about these comedians’ political leanings: according to him Chaplin is a socialist-pacifist, West a militant libertarian and Fields a “radical aristocrat” (Laurel and Hardy were, of course, anarchists).
If this seems almost believable, the interview takes a decidedly implausible turn when Milhaven outs Bob Hope and Shirley Temple as studio assassins that killed comedians who did not have the good sense to keep their politics to themselves. At this point, the reader may begin to wonder if this is conspiracy theory or simply deliberate historical fiction. Is Milhaven himself an utter fabrication? As with the most compelling conspiracy theories, there is just enough fact here to sustain interest. (Daniel Marrone)
zine, Readers Digress!, 15 Darlington Walk, Leigham, Plymouth, Devon, PL6 8QA, UK