Actor, Comedian. He found his greatest success when paired with equally legendary Stan Laurel. Born Norvell Hardy in Harlem, Georgia, his father, Oliver Hardy, was a prominent lawyer. His father died when he was ten months old, and his mother supported the family by running a successful hotel. Young Hardy was a talented singer as a young boy, and by the age of 8, he was performing in local minstrel shows. In 1910, he ran a movie theater, while studying law in preparation for a law career. But in 1913, he got a chance to act in a movie, “Outwitting Dad” (1913), and he never turned back from acting. In that film, he added his father’s name, Oliver, to his, becoming Oliver Norvell Hardy, eventually dropping his own name and becoming known only as Oliver Hardy. A series of short films followed, in which he was credited under his nickname, Babe Hardy. His overweight size made him a natural foil in silent comedies, and he quickly found work in the comedy shorts of Billy West, Larry Semon and Hal Roach, all early film studio directors and producers. He would make over 400 films, but it was when he was paired with comic Stan Laurel that the pair would make film history. He actually worked with Stan Laurel in the film, “A Lucky Dog” (1917), but no one realized their chemistry together until 1926, when they were paired in “Forty-five Minutes from Hollywood.” Their first feature film came four years later, with “Pardon Us” (1931), and during the 1930s and 1940s their work was often production-line rather than innovative. Starting out in silent films, they easily made the transition to the “talkies.” Hardy would appear in a couple of films without Laurel, in “The Fighting Kentuckian” (1949) and “Riding High” (1950). In the late 1940s and 1950s, when Hollywood decided there was no further interest in them, the pair toured English music halls with great success. Their last film together was “The Bullfighters” (1945), with the exception of the French film “Atoll K” (1951) which flopped. Other than his work, which he enjoyed, his favorite pastime was playing golf. He was married three times, the first two marriages ending in divorce. He died from complications of dieting: following doctor’s orders to lose weight, he took off too much weight too quickly, going from 300 plus pounds to 150 pounds in a few months. This weakened him and is believed to have brought about his fatal cause of death, cerebral thrombosis. In 1991, he and Stan Laurel were honored on a US 29 cent postage stamp.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
His talent brought joy and laughter to all the world.