Anyway, I just wanted to mention Stan because he's basically the reason I'm here writing this. His films didn't just get me into classic movies, they got me into movies. Because of this, I've always gone through life assuming that everyone likes Laurel and Hardy, and though I've found that increasingly not to be the case (and honestly it's something I struggle to understand in other people), any one of their films can instantly lighten my mood and make me laugh without fail no matter how many times I've seen it.
Of course, Stan is nothing without Ollie and vise versa, but on his own Stan Laurel's creative drive and control over the making of his films has always inspired me. I honestly think that there was no one working in Hollywood in the Golden Age who understood instinctively the mechanics of how comic situations worked than Laurel. Keaton was close, but he cared too much about the big picture. Stan's attention was to the tiny details and that instantly made his humour more real and more human. You only have to watch any of his later pictures where he had no creative control to see how badly his unique mind was missed. He had no ambition to be a great auteur, just to come up with funny and unusual situations for Laurel and Hardy to battle against. You can see this attention to details in everything he does and it's one of the reasons why his films are so endearingly popular.
Anyway, I've no intention to go on about his virtues as a performer as I think they go without saying. At the end of the day if I hadn't been exposed to Laurel and Hardy at an early age I doubt I would have grown up to have an appreciation for all things "classic", be they films, records, or books. It was the starting block that shaped all my tastes and opinions. Without Laurel and Hardy, I may have got there in the end but things would have worked out in an entirely different and possibly alien way. I might be a Chaplin fan! Perish the thought...*shudder*
Nope, it all started with Stan. A genius, a gentleman and my hero since childhood. My life would have been infinitely poorer without him.