Guest Author - Amber Grey
Legendary comedy producer Hal Roach, who was born to Irish-immigrant parents in New York, had a different kind of youth than his peers. After making his way through various jobs around the country being everything from a wrangler to a gold prospector, Roach ended up in Hollywood, California in his late teens. He became an extra in the early days of film but Roach found that he was more interested in being behind the camera than in front of it.
After procuring an inheritance from a relative, Roach decided to invest it into his new curiosity and passion for films. Him and his friend, the legendary Harold Lloyd, would film their own shorts with Lloyd playing his character "Lonesome Luke."
Eventually, Roach bought his own lot and employed a large group of talented individuals to produce comedy gold. He employed his good friend Harold Lloyd, who thanks to his successful "Glasses" character, Roach was able to manage an agreement with Pathe Studios for distribution and Roach's studio was able to grow. His lot became known as the "Lot of Fun" because of the easy-going atmosphere and a place where the crew and stars were treated as equals.
With the advent of the "talking picture," Roach transitioned his team of hardworking individuals from silent stars to the world of sound. With fellow producers and stars losing their jobs to the "talkies," it was a risky chance but Roach took it. Over the years, Roach was striving to envision the future of both comedy and creative advances. He made foreign dubbing possible as he worked tirelessly to re-shoot and dub his material into foreign languages including Spanish, French and German.
Amongst Roach's cast of talents was his comedy duo "Laurel & Hardy." Their comedy routines were so successful, that Roach was inspired to produce a female comedy duo who became known as Todd & Pitts.
Another one of his famous creation was the "Our Gang" series starring Jackie Cooper which were eventually known as "The Little Rascals."
When Roach was 92, he received an honorary Academy Award for his work in film with "Our Gang" actors Jackie Cooper and George "Spanky" McFarland presenting the award to him.
Although Hal Roach passed away just two days shy of his 102nd birthday, he had outlived most members of the "Our Gang" cast and his other colleagues. But his legacy lives on today. In 1994, a big-screen adaptation of "The Little Rascals" was made in which the film paid tribute to some of the routines featured in the "Our Gang" series including "Rushin' Ballet" and "Hi-Neighbor!" As well as Laurel & Hardy being world-renowned for their routines and are synonymous with other trios and duos with "The Three Stooges" and "The Marx Brothers."