Sunday, January 18, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY OLIVER HARDY




Today would have been Oliver Hardy's birthday. Oliver Norvell Hardy bar none with Stan Laurel were the funniest comedy team ever put together. Olie was a sweet kind gentleman who sang so sweetly, it may just shock you. My uncle was Oliver Hardy's tailor. Olie was a very big man: -- a incredible stature-- he stood six foot one and weighed in at three hundred pounds. It took four men to deliver one suit to the mammoth man of incredibly honest comedy. In the 1970's I raised money for the Alhambra Public Library showing many Laurel & Hardy shorts and features at the Holy Trinity Church in the same city. I will never forget the kindness of it's pastor: Father Harold Hultgren. We donated a lot of sixteen milameter films to the library's collection in that way. But here's a little Laurel and Hardy history you may not have realized. In 1926, a hot leg of lamb changed the future of both Laurel and Hardy. Hardy was scheduled to appear in Get 'Em Young but was unexpectedly hospitalized after being burned by a hot leg of lamb. Laurel, who had been working as a gag man and director at Roach Studios, was recruited to fill in. Laurel kept appearing in front of the camera rather than behind it, and later that year appeared in the same movie as Hardy, 45 Minutes from Hollywood, although they didn't share any scenes together.
In 1927, Laurel and Hardy began sharing screen time together in Slipping Wives, Duck Soup (no relation to the Marx Brothers film of the same name) and With Love and Hisses. Roach Studios' supervising director Leo McCarey, realizing the audience reaction to the two, began intentionally teaming them together, leading to the start of a Laurel and Hardy series late that year. With this pairing, he created arguably the most famous double act in movie history. They began producing a huge body of short movies, including The Battle of the Century (1927) (with one of the largest pie fights ever filmed), Should Married Men Go Home? (1928), Two Tars (1928), Unaccustomed As We Are (1929, marking their transition to talking pictures) Berth Marks (1929), Blotto (1930), Brats (1930) (with Stan and Ollie portraying themselves, as well as their own sons, using over sized furniture to sets for the 'young' Laurel and Hardy), Another Fine Mess (1930), Be Big! (1931), and many others. In 1929, they appeared in their first feature, in one of the revue sequences of Hollywood Revue of 1929 and the following year they appeared as the comic relief in a lavish all-color (in Technicolor) musical feature entitled: The Rogue Song. This film marked their first appearance in color. In 1931 they made their first full length movie (in which they were the actual stars), Pardon Us although they continued to make features and shorts until 1935. Perhaps their greatest achievement, however, was The Music Box (1932), which won them an Academy Award for best short film - their only such award. I pay today for our new president. God Bless Him and God Bless America

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