Oliver Hardy was the rotund partner in the Laurel and Hardy comedy team.
Over a 20-year period Laurel and Hardy fumbled their way through some 200 films. They began with two-reelers at the Hal Roach Studios and eventually graduated into full-length features. These included "Pardon Us," "Pack Up Your Troubles," "Sons of the Desert," "Babes in Toyland," "Bonnie Scotland," "The Bohemian Girl," "Great Guns" and many others.
And always the format was the same: Hardy was the elephant on tip-toe, who always got stuck in upper berths, daintily fingers his necktie, twitched his ridiculously thin mustache, lost his too-small derby and rushed with clumsy gallantry to the distress of fair damsels—only to trip over a broom the simple-minded, open-faced Laurel had left in the way.
Some of the fair damsels, then just youngsters, whom Laurel and Hardy helped launch to film fame were Lupe Velez, Jean Harlow, Paulette Goddard and Vivian Blaine.
Hardy was in stock for four years and toured the South with his own singing act. He happened to be in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1913 when a movie company was there. They needed a fat comedian. And that was that.
The die was not permanently cast, however, until Hardy team with Laurel in 1927. He had come to Hollywood in 1918, codirecting pictures with Larry Semon and directing a few himself. It was Hal Roach who finally recognized the possibilities of Laurel and Hardy. Laurel, born of an English vaudeville family, had been kicking around the lot as an actor for a few years when the team was formed.
In their pictures Laurel called him Ollie, but away from the cameras the blimp-like Hardy was always Babe.
When Hardy died in 1957, although he and Laurel had not made a picture in Hollywood since 1945, the popularity of the slapstick team had been soaring again on television.