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The Pope and the Boys
Laurel and Hardy were the guests of pope Pius XII. The Italian historian Benedetto Gemma is convinced – after thorough research in the archives of the Vatican – that in 1950 the legendary British-American comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy had an audience with pope Pius XII. Gemma, who specializes in film history, says he can prove that the comedians met with the pope while they were in Europe for filming their last movie together, Atoll K.
Pope Pius XII was a fan of Laurel & Hardy and after an exhausting day he liked watching a slapstick film of the team. In a time when the movie theatre was still one of the most important ways to relax, the pope watched a Laurel and Hardy film at least once a month. Moreover, he was always in for a good conversation. When the pope heard that the two comedians would also visit Rome, he wanted to meet them ‘at any cost’ during a private audience.
But because of Laurel and Hardy’s colourful walk of life no notes or photographs of this encounter were stored. According to Benedetto Gemma there is a plausible explanation when you consider the era in which the meeting took place. Stan Laurel was married for the fifth time and Oliver Hardy, a free-mason of all people, was living his third marriage. The Holy See could officially not tolerate that both gentlemen had repeatedly violated the sacrament of marriage and therefore – says the historian – there are no official references to this unusual encounter.
Source: Welt
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