Oliver Hardy
(01/18/1892 - 08/07/1957)

Norvell Hardy was born in Harlem, Georgia.

In 1910, a movie theater opened in the future Hardy's home town of Milledgeville, and he became the projectionist, ticket taker, janitor and manager. He soon became obsessed with the new motion picture industry, and became convinced that he could do a better job than the actors he saw on the screen. A friend suggested that he move to Jacksonville where some films were being made. In 1913 he did just that, where he worked as a cabaret and vaudeville singer at night, and at the Lubin Studios during the day.

The next year he made his first movie, Outwitting Dad, for the Lubin studio. He was billed as O. N. Hardy, taking his father's name as a memorial. In his personal life, he was known as "Babe" Hardy, a nickname that he was given by an Italian barber, who would apply talcum powder to Oliver's cheeks and say, "nice-a-bab-y". In many of his later films at Lubin he was billed as "Babe Hardy." Hardy was a big man at six feet one inch tall and weighed up to 300 pounds. His size placed limitations on the roles he could play. He was most often cast as "the heavy" or the villain. He also frequently had roles in comedy shorts, his size complementing the character.

By 1915, he had made fifty short one-reeler films at the Lubin studio. He later moved to New York and made films for the Pathé, Casino and Edison Studios. He then returned to Jacksonville and made films for the Vim and King Bee studios. He worked with Charlie Chaplin imitator Billy West and comedic actress Ethel Burton Palmer during this time. (Hardy continued playing the "heavy" for West well into the early 1920s, often imitating Eric Campbell to West's Chaplin.) In 1917, Oliver Hardy moved to Los Angeles, working freelance for several Hollywood studios. The next year, he appeared in the movie The Lucky Dog, produced by G.M. ("Broncho Billy") Anderson and starring a young British comedian named Stan Laurel. Oliver Hardy played the part of a robber, trying to stick up Stan's character. They did not work together again for several years, yet eventually formed the famous team of Laurel and Hardy.

Between 1918 and 1923 Oliver Hardy made more than forty films for Vitagraph, playing the "heavy" for Larry Semon.

In 1924, Hardy began working at Hal Roach Studios working with the Our Gang films and Charley Chase. In 1925, he was in a film "Yes, Yes, Nanette!" starring James Finlayson, who in later years was a recurring character in the Laurel and Hardy film series. The film was directed by Stan Laurel. He also continued playing supporting roles in films featuring Clyde Cooke and Bobby Ray.

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.

Laurel and Hardy appeared for the first time in color in the The Rogue Song (1930). In 1927, Laurel and Hardy began sharing screen time together in Slipping Wives, Duck Soup and With Love and Hisses. Roach Studios' supervising director Leo McCarey had realized the audience reaction to the two, and had begun intentionally teaming them together, leading to the start of the Laurel and Hardy series late that year. With Laurel and Hardy, he had created one of the most famous comedy teams of all time. 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 oversized 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.

Available Films

Larry Semon Comedies - Volume #1 (1918-27)

Larry Semon Comedies - Volume #2 (1917-25)

The Perfect Clown (1925)

The Wizard of Oz (1925)

No Man’s Law (1927)

Babes in Toyland (1934)