He was the large half of the duo that was widely considered the greatest comedy team in film history, always complaining, “This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.”
Norvell Hardy was born in Harlem, Georgia, in 1892, and grew up in Madison, Covington, Athens, and Milledgeville. He was working at a theater when he decided to go into acting, taking his late father Oliver’s name in tribute. In 1926, after more than 200 films he signed with Hal Roach Studios, where he first worked with a Chaplin understudy named Stan Laurel.
Roach saw the chemistry between skinny bumbling Laurel and the fat, pompous Hardy. By 1927 they were an official team.
Laurel and Hardy made more than 100 comedies, and they were perfect together: Laurel played the head-scratching whimpering foil to Hardy’s tie-twiddling and frequent glances into the camera. The 1933 feature Sons of the Desert is considered one of their best.
The Oliver Hardy festival in Harlem, Georgia, honors the legendary comedian born there on January 18, 1892, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.