Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Happy 125th Birthday, Oliver Hardy!

With the realization that laughs are among the few balms that work in difficult times, we celebrate the 125th birthday of Oliver Norvell Hardy, born on January 18, 1892.

Times may be good, bad, awful or in the "don't ask" department, but laughs are eternal. And the Laurel & Hardy films deliver them - boy, do they deliver them!.

We do not have much to add - kind of like Ollie saying "I have nothing to say" - except that Mr. Hardy has enriched the life of this blogger and lifted his spirits incalculably - as have the key Hal Roach Studio behind-the-camera comedy aces seen in this photo (snapped on the set of Below Zero), L&H director James Parrott and Charles Parrott (a.k.a. Charley Chase).

Ollie a.k.a. "Babe" made his name as a supporting player in dozens of films for Lubin in Jacksonville, then later with such comedy producers as L-Ko and Vitagraph. Rob Stone's book Laurel Or Hardy: The Years Before The Teaming delves into the extensive Babe filmography in detail (and with humor). Starting in 1919, Mr. Hardy starts turning up frequently as a key stock company player in the wacky comedies of Vitagraph star Larry Semon, the comedian-director-gagman and former cartoonist who resembled Max Schreck as Nosferatu, Richard Outcault's 1890's comic strip star The Yellow Kid and Bill Griffith's comics character of many decades later, Zippy The Pinhead.

Once having moved on to Hal Roach Studios, Mr. Hardy contributed hilarious supporting performances to several entries from Charley Chase's series of two-reel short comedies. Director-writer Leo McCarey would later launch the Laurel & Hardy series.

For books on The Boys, the latest edition of Laurel & Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skredtvedt is just what the doctor ordered for fans of the team and of the Lot Of Fun, a.k.a. Hal Roach Studios.

Equally indispensable: the Laurel & Hardy Onstage combo of CDs and a book (also by Mr. Skredtvedt) about the team's 1940's tours.

The Boys will continue to rock audiences as long as their films can be shared with a group, preferably in a theatrical setting. This is why it is important to continue the good work Sons Of The Desert tents, film festivals and archival organizations do: assemble a bunch of people to watch the L&H films - and laugh!

All at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog doff those battered brown derbies in tribute to Mr. Hardy, as well as two other silver screen and comedy powerhouses with January 18 birthdays, Danny Kaye and Cary Grant! Cheers!

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