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 T. Marvin Hatley

T. Marvin Hatley

Birth
Reed, Greer County, Oklahoma, USA
Death 26 Aug 1986 (aged 81)
Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Court of Remembrance, 3405
Memorial ID 2042 · View Source
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Film Composer. He wrote breezy, delightful music for Hal Roach comedies of the 1930s. Hatley received three Academy Award nominations, for the scores of "Way Out West" (1937), "Blockheads" (1938), and "There Goes My Heart" (1938). His greatest claim to fame is noted on his tombstone: "Composer - Laurel and Hardy Theme Song". Thomas Marvin Hatley was born in Reed, Oklahoma. A musical prodigy, he learned to play dozens of instruments, from the piano to the tuba, by ear. While a pre-med student at UCLA he worked as a staff musician at KFVD Radio in Culver City, where his talents came to Roach's attention. He served as music director of the Roach studio from 1930 to 1939. While most of the ubiquitous themes heard in that company's shorts of the period were composed (without credit) by Leroy Shield, Hatley provided additional cues, musical effects, and specialty numbers, such as the hit song "Honolulu Baby" for "Sons of the Desert" (1933). When Roach switched to feature production in the mid-1930s, Hatley produced full-length scores. His feature credits include "General Spanky" (1936), "Topper" (1937), "Merrily We Live" (1938), "Swiss Miss" (1938), "Topper Takes a Trip" (1938), "Zenobia" (1939), "Captain Fury" (1939), "A Chump at Oxford" (1940), "Saps at Sea" (1940), and "Broadway Limited" (1941). His famous Laurel and Hardy Theme, known as "Ku Ku" or "Dance of the Cuckoos", was not originally intended for the comedy team; he wrote it as a musical cuckoo clock for KFVD Radio. Stan Laurel heard it one morning and insisted it be used for their films. Hatley recalled why Laurel was so enthusiastic over the piece: "Stan said the top voice, or the melody, represented [Oliver] Hardy - it sounded like a bugle call, very dominant. And the other part represented Stanley - it's only two tones, very limited - and it's cuckoo, because Stanley's always doing the wrong thing. And when you put them together, the clash of the major and second intervals makes it sound funny". "Ku Ku" made its first appearance in the L & H comedy "Brats" (1930) and subsequently introduced all the duo's Roach-produced films. Originally scored for two clarinets, Hatley later arranged it as a march for full orchestra. It has since become one of the most familiar tunes in American Cinema. Like his music, Hatley was modest, easygoing, and not particularly ambitious. Tired of what he called "the terrific pressure" of meeting producers' deadlines, he left films in 1941 and spent the next 20 years as a cocktail pianist, making more money than he ever did at the low-budget Roach factory. Television screenings of the Roach comedies brought new exposure to his work, and he lived to enjoy being rediscovered by younger generations of movie buffs. In his last years Hatley was a favorite guest at meetings of the Laurel and Hardy fan club, The Sons of the Desert. He died of cancer.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2042
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for T. Marvin Hatley (3 Apr 1905–26 Aug 1986), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2042, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .