Producer and Director. Nationality: American. Born: Elmira, New York, 14 January 1892. Military Service: Made propaganda and training films during World War II: colonel. Family: Son: the producer Hal Roach, Jr.; daughter: Margaret. Career: 1910—muleskinner and gold rusher in Alaska; 1912—arrived in Hollywood, entered films as stuntman and actor for Universal; 1914—formed Rolin Film Company: "Willie Work" series with Harold Lloyd, followed by popular "Lonesome Luke" series; then produced (and often directed and wrote) many short comedy films with Harry Pollard, Will Rogers, Charlie Chase, Edgar Kennedy, Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang, Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts, and others; TV producer, with his son, after World War II: company finally dissolved, 1962. Awards: Academy Award for Bored of Education, 1936; Special Academy Award, 1983. Died: 2 November 1992.
Films as Producer (Shorts):
Willie (Campbell); Willie's Haircut (MacGregor); Willie Goes to Sea (Campbell)
Number Please (Newmeyer)
Now or Never (Newmeyer); Among Those Present (Newmeyer); Never Weaken (Newmeyer)
The Timber Queen (Jackman—serial); The Ropin' Fool (Badger); Fruits of the Faith (Badger); Our Gang (McGowan); Young Sherlocks (McGowan and McNamara)
Her Dangerous Path (Clements—serial); Get Your Man (Jeske); The Smile Wins (Jeske); Boys to Board (McNamara); Good Riddance (Jeske); Jus' Passin' Through (Parrott); Hustlin' Hawk (Pembroke); Uncensored Movies (Clements); Two Wagons, Both Covered (Wagner)
Short Kilts (Jeske); Smithy (Jeske); Postage Due (Jeske); Zeb vs. Paprika (Cedar); Near Dublin (Cedar); Brothers under the Chin (Cedar); The Cowboy Shiek (Howe); The Cake Eater (Howe); Big Moments from Little Pictures (Howe); High Brow Stuff (Wagner); Going to Congress (Wagner); Rupert of Cole Slaw (Rupert of Hee-Haw) (Pembroke); Wide Open Spaces (Jeske); Our Congressman (Wagner); A Truthful Liar (Del Ruth); Gee Whiz Genevieve! (Howe); Don't Park There! (Guiol); Jubilo, Jr. (McGowan)
Is Marriage the Bunk (McCarey); Isn't Life Terrible? (McCarey); Yes, Yes, Nanette (Laurel and Hennecke); Wandering Papas (Laurel)
Madame Mystery (Laurel and Wallace); Long Live the King (McCarey); Thundering Fleas (McGowan); Along Came Auntie (Guiol); Crazy Like a Fox (McCarey); Be Your Age (McCarey); The Nickel Hopper (Jones); Should Men Walk Home? (McCarey); Should Tall Men Marry (Bruckman)
Why Girls Say No (McCarey); Slipping Wives (Guiol); The Honorable Mr. Buggs (Jackman); Fluttering Hearts (Parrott); Love 'em and Weep (Guiol); Why Girls Love Sailors (Guiol); With Love and Hisses (Guiol); Sailors Beware (Guiol); Hats Off (Yates); Love 'em and Feed 'em (Bruckman); Do Detectives Think? (Guiol); Call of the Cuckoo (Bruckman); Assistant Wives (Parrott); Flying Elephants (Butler); Galloping Ghosts (Parrott); Putting Pants on Philip (Bruckman); The Lighter That Failed (Parrott)
The Boy Friend (Guiol); Spook-Spoofing (McGowan); Rainy Days (Mack); The Finishing Touch (Bruckman); The Family Group (Guiol); Dumb Daddies (Yates); Edison, Marconi, & Co. (Mack); Spoofing (McGowan); Aching Youth (Guiol); From Soup to Nuts (Kennedy); Came the Dawn (Heath); Barnum and Ringling, Inc. (McGowan); Blow By Blow (Parrott); You're Darn Tootin' (Kennedy); Limousine Love (Guiol); Tell It to the Judge (Guiol and Yates); The Fight Pest (Guiol); Fair and Muddy (Oezle); Should Women Drive? (Yates); Crazy House (McGowan); That Night (Heath); School Begins (Mack); The Ol' Gray Hoss (McGowan); Early to Bed (Flynn); Imagine My Embarrassment (Yates); Is Everybody Happy? (Yates); Should Married Men Go Home? (Parrott); The Battle of the Century (Bruckman); The Booster (Yates); Do Gentlemen Snore? (Heath); Growing Pains (Mack); A Pair of Tights (Yates); Their Purple Moment (Parrott); Habeas Corpus (Parrott)
Bacon Grabbers (Foster); Double Whoopee (Foster); Hotter Than Hot (Foster); Men o' War (Foster); Railroadin' (McGowan); Crazy Feet (Doane); Lazy Days (McGowan); Boxing Gloves (Mack); Little Mother (McGowan); Wiggle Your Ears (McGowan); Loud Soup (Foster); The Holy Terror (Mack); Dog Heaven (Mack); Berth Marks (Foster); Big Business (Horne); The Hoose-Gow (Parrott); The Big Squawk (Doane); Cat, Dog, & Co. (Mack); Bouncing Babies (McGowan); Shivering Shakespeare (Mack); The Real McCoy (Doane); Noisy Noises (McGowan); Movie Nights (Foster); Snappy Sneezer (Doane); The Perfect Day (Parrott); Sky Boy (Rogers); They Go Boom (Parrott); Thin Twins (Horne); Leaping Love (Doane); That's My Wife (French); Angora Love (Foster); Feed 'em and Weep (Guiol); The Head Guy (Guiol); Rainy Days (Mack); Skirt Shy (Rogers); Stepping Out (Foster); Unaccustomed as We Are (Foster); Saturday's Lesson (McGowan)
Pups Is Pups (McGowan); Below Zero (Parrott); Blotto (Parrott); The King (Horne and Rogers); When the Wind Blows (Horne); The Big Kick (Doane); Fast Work (Horne); Night Owls (Parrott); The Brats (Parrott); A Tough Winter (McGowan); The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case (Parrott);The Fighting Parson (Rogers and Guiol); The Shrimp (Rogers); The First Seven Years (McGowan); All Teed Up (Kennedy)
Call a Cop! (Stevens); Shiver My Timbers (McGowan); High Gear (Stevens); Catch-as-Catch-Can (Neilan); Dogs Is Dogs (McGowan); One Good Turn (Horne); Come Clean (Horne); The Kick-Off! (Stevens); One of the Smiths (Parrott); The Panic Is On (Parrott); Helpmates (Parrott); Beau Hunks (Beau Chumps) (Horne); Big Ears (McGowan); Hasty Marriage (Pratt); Readin' and Writin' (McGowan); Skip the Maloo (Parrott); War Mamas (Neilan); What a Bozo (Parrott)
Wild Babies (Mack and French); Free Eats (McCarey); Hook and Ladder (McGowan); The Old Bull (Marshall); First in War (Doane); Love Pains (Horne); The Nickel Nurser (Doane); Free Wheeling (McGowan); The Pooch (McGowan); Scram (McCarey); A Lad an 'a Lamp (McGowan); Spanky (McGowan); You're Telling Me! (French and Mack); The Soilers (Marshall); Their First Mistake (Marshall); Strictly Unreliable (Marshall); Alum and Eve (Marshall); Girl Grief (Parrott); Hot Spot (Lord); Show Business (White); Too Many Women (Mack and French); What Price Taxi (Lord); Young Ironsides (Parrott); The Chimp (Parrott); Choo-Choo (McGowan); County Hospital (Parrott); In Walked Charley (Doane); The Knockout (Mack and French); The Music Box (Parrott); Red Noses (Horne)
Sons of the Desert (Seiter); Busy Bodies (French); Wild Poses (McGowan); Asleep in the Feet (Meins); One Track Minds (Meins); Bedtime Worries (McGowan); Luncheon at Twelve (Parrott); Crook's Tour (McGowan); The Rummy (Lord); Thundering Taxis (Lord); Midsummer Mush (Parrott); The Cracked Ice Man (Parrott); Beauty and the Bus (Meins); Dirty Work (French); Sherman Said It (Parrott); Twin Screws (Parrott); Rhapsody in Brew (Gilbert); Mush and Milk (McGowan); Forgotten Babies (McGowan); The Kid from Borneo (McGowan); Maids à la Mode (Meins); Taxi Barons (Meins); Wreckety Wrecks (Lord); Air Fright (Meins); Backs to Nature (Meins); Fallen Arches (Meins); The Bargain of the Century (Parrott); Twice Two (Parrott); The Midnight Patrol (French)
Opened By Mistake (Parrott); The Live Ghost (Rogers); The Caretaker's Daughter (French); For Pete's Sake (Meins); Going Bye-Bye! (Rogers); A Duke for a Day (Parrott); The First Round-Up (Meins); I'll Take Vanilla (Parrott and Dunn); Four Parts (Parrott and Dunn); Fate's Fathead (Parrott); Washee Ironee (Parrott); Next Week-End (Dunn); Them Thar Hills (Rogers); Movie Daze (Meins); Another Wild Idea (Parrott and Dunn); Apples to You! (Jason); Babes in the Goods (Meins); Bum Voyage (Grinde); Hi Neighbor! (Meins); Honky-Donkey (Meins); I'll Be Suing You (Meins); Maid in Hollywood (Meins); Mike Fright (Meins); Mrs. Barnacle Bill (French); Mixed Nuts (Parrott); Nosed Out (Yates); The Private Life of Oliver the Eighth (French); Something Simple (Parrot and Weems); Soup and Fish (Meins); Speaking of Relations (Yates); Three Chumps Ahead (Meins); You Bring the Ducks (Yates); You Said a Hatful! (Parrott); One Horse Farmers (Meins); Benny from Panama (Parrott); Music in Your Hair (Parrott); Roamin' Vandals (Jason and Yates); Done in Oil (Meins)
Hot Money (Horne); The Four Star Boarder (Parrott); The Tin Man (Parrott); Twin Triplets (Terhune); Nurse to You (Parrott); Treasure Blues (Parrott); Shrimps for a Day (Meins); Anniversary Trouble (Meins); The Chases of Pimple Street (Parrott); The Fixer-Uppers (Rogers); The Infernal Triangle (Douglas); Little Papa (Meins); Little Sinner (Meins); Lucky Beginners (Douglas); Mama's Little Pirate (Meins); Manhattan Monkey Business (Parrott and Law); The Misses Stooge (Parrott); Our Gang Follies of 1936 (Meins); Poker at Eight (Parrott); Public Ghost No. 1 (Parrott and Law); Sing, Sister, Sing (Parrott); Slightly Static (Terhune); Southern Exposure (Parrott); Sprucin' Up (Meins); Teacher's Beau (Meins); Thicker Than Water (Horne); Tit for Tat (Rogers); Top Flat (Terhune and Jevne); Life Hesitates at Forty (Parrott and Law); Pay As You Exit (Douglas); Divot Diggers (McGowan); Vamp till Ready (Parrott and Law); Neighborhood House (Parrott and Law); The Pinch Singer (Newmeyer); Second Childhood (Meins); The Count Takes the Count (Parrott and Law); An All American Toothache (Meins); Arbor Day (Newmeyer); At Sea Ashore (Terhune); Hill Tillies (Meins); On the Wrong Trek (Parrott and Law); Pan Handlers (Terhune); Spooky Hooky (Douglas); Two Too Young (Douglas); Bored of Education (Douglas)
Nobody's Baby (Meins); Pick a Star (Sedgwick); Night 'n' Gales (Douglas); Rushin' Ballet (Douglas); Roamin' Holiday (Douglas); Our Gang Follies of 1938 (Douglas); Fishy Tales (Douglas); Framing Youth (Douglas); Glove Taps (Douglas); Mail and Female (Newmayer); Reunion in Rhythm (Douglas); Hearts Are Thumps (Douglas); Three Smart Boys (Douglas)
Came the Brawn (Douglas); Party Fever (Sidney); Mein in Fright (Sidney); Hide and Shriek (Douglas); Football Romeo (Sidney); Practical Jokers (Sidney); Canned Fishing (Douglas); Feed 'em and Weep (Douglas); Three Men in a Tub (Watt)
Dog Daze (Sidney); Joy Scouts (Cahn); Auto Antics (Cahn); Clown Princes (Sidney); Cousin Wilbur (Sidney)
Films as Producer and Director (Shorts):
Just Nuts; Lonesome Luke; Once Every Ten Minutes; Spit Ball Sadie; Fresh from the Farm; Soaking the Clothes; Pressing His Suit; Terribly Stuck Up; A Mix-Up for Maisie; Some Baby; Giving Them Fits; Bughouse Bell Hops; Ragtime Snapshots; Great While It Lasted; Tinkering with Trouble; A Foozle at a Tea Party; Peculiar Patients' Pranks; Social Gangster; Ruses, Rhymes, Roughnecks
Luke Leans to the Literary; Luke Lugs Luggage; Luke Lolls in Luxury; Luke the Candy Cut-Up; Luke Foils the Villain; Luke Pipes the Pippins; Skylight Sleep; Luke's Late Lunches; Luke Laughs Last; Luke's Fatal Flivver; Them Was the Happy Days; In Soft in a Studio; Lonesome Luke, Circus King; Lady Killers; Luke's Society Mix-Up; Luke's Washful Waiting; Luke Rides Roughshod; Luke, Crystal Gazer; Luke's Lost Lamb; Braver Than the Bravest; Luke Does the Midway; Caught in a Jam; Luke Joins the Navy; Busting the Beanery; Luke and the Mermaids; Jailed; Luke's Speedy Club Life; Luke's Preparedness Preparation; Luke and theBang-Tails; Luke, the Chauffeur; Luke and the Bomb Throwers; Reckless Wrestlers; Luke, Gladiator; Luke, Patient Provider; Luke's Movie Muddle; Luke's Fireworks Frizzle; Luke Locates the Loot; Luke's Shattered Sleep; Trouble Enough; Luke and the Rural Roughnecks; Luke's Double
Lonesome Luke's Lively Life; Skinny Gets a Goat; Skinny's False Alarm; Skinny's Shipwrecked Sand-Witch; Lonesome Luke on Tin Can Alley; Lonesome Luke's Honeymoon; Lonesome Luke—Plumber; Stop! Luke! Listen!; Lonesome Luke—Messenger; Lonesome Luke—Mechanic; Lonesome Luke's Wild Women; Over the Fence; Lonesome Luke Loses Patients; Pinched Bliss; Rainbow Island; Love, Laughs, and Lather; Bashful; All Aboard; By the Sad Sea Waves; The Flirt; Lonesome Luke from London to Laramie; Birds of a Feather; Clubs Are Trump; We Never Sleep; Move On; One Quarter Inch; The Tip; Luke's Last Liberty; Luke's Busy Days; Luke's Trolley Trouble; Lonesome Luke—Lawyer; Luke Wins Ye Ladye Faire; Lonesome Luke's Lively Rifle
The Movie Dummy; The Big Idea; The Lamb; Hello Teacher; Hit Him Again; A One Night Stand; Beat It; A Gasoline Wedding; Look Pleasant Please; Here Come the Girls; Let's Go; On the Jump; Follow the Crowd; Pipe the Whiskers; It's a Wild Life; Hey There!; His Busy Day; Kicked Out; The Non-Stop Kid; Two-Gun Gussie; The Junkman; Fireman, Save My Child; The City Slicker; Sic 'em Towser; Somewhere in Turkey; Cleopatsy; Are Crooks Dishonest?; The Furniture Movers; Bees in His Bonnet; Step Lively; An Ozark Romance; Fire the Cook; Kicking the Germ Out of Germany; Beach Nuts; That's Him; Do Husbands Deceive?; Bride and Gloom; Nipped in the Bud; Two Scrambled; The Dippy Daughter; The Great Water Peril; Swing Your Partners; No Place Like Jail; Why Pick on Me?; An Enemy of Soap; Just Rambling Along; Hear 'em Rave; Nothing But Trouble; Take a Chance; Check Your Baggage; She Loves Me Not; Wanted $5,000; Going! Going! Gone!; Ask Father; On the Fire; Look Out Below; Next Aisle Over
Do You Love Your Wife?; Love's Young Scream; Hustling for Health; Toto's Troubles; Hoot Man; I'm on My Way; The Dutiful Dub; A Sammy in Siberia; Just Dropped In; Crack Your Heels; Ring Up the Curtain; Young Mr. Jazz; Si Senor; Before Breakfast; The Marathon; Back to the Woods; Pistols for Breakfast; Swat the Crook; Off the Trolley; Spring Fever; Billy Blazes, Esq.; Just Neighbors; At the Old Stage Door; Never Touched Me; A Jazzed Honeymoon; Count Your Change; Chop Suey & Co.; Heap Big Chief; Don't Shove; Be My Wife; The Rajah; He Leads, Others Follow; Soft Money; All at Sea; Call for Mr. Caveman; Giving the Bride Away; It's a Hard Life; From Hand to Mouth; His Only Father; Pay Your Dues; Bumping into Broadway; Captain Kidd's Kids; His Royal Slyness
Order in the Court; How Dry I Am; Red Hot Hottentots; Why Go Home?; Slippery Slickers; The Dippy Dentist; Looking for Trouble; Tough Luck; The Floor Below; All Lit Up; Getting His Goat; Waltz Me Around; Raise the Rent; Find the Girl; Fresh Paint; Flat Broke; Cut the Cards; The Dinner Hour; Speed to Spare; Don't Weaken; Shoot on Sight; The Eastern Westerner; Haunted Spooks; Drink Hearty; Trotting Through Turkey; Merely a Maid; All Dressed Up; Grab the Ghost; You're Pinched; Start the Show; High and Dry; All in a Day; Any Old Port; Don't Rock the Boat; Hello Uncle; The Home Stretch; Call a Taxi; Little Miss Jazz; A Regular Pal; Go As You Please; Rock-a-bye Baby; Money to Burn; Doing Time; Fellow Citizens; Alias Aladdin; Mamma's Boy; The Sandman; When the Wind Blows; Insulting the Sultan; Queens Up; The Dear Departed; Park Your Car; Cracked Wedding Bells; A London Bobby; June Madness; Live and Learn
The Sleepy Head; Greek Meets Greek; The Morning After; Pinning It On; Burglars Bold; Open Another Bottle; Prince Pistachio; Cash Customers; A Straight Crook; Big Game; Save Your Money; I Do (co-d); Bubbling Over; Catching a Coon; Fellow Romans; Fifteen Minutes; His Best Girl; Hobgoblins; Hurry West; The Kiljoys; The Love Lesson; Make It Snappy; On Location; Paint and Powder; No Children; Oh, Promise Me; Penny-in-the-Slot; Rush Orders; Running Wild; Where's the Fire?; Own Your Home; The High Rollers; You're Next; The Bike Bug; At the Ringside; What a Whopper; No Stop-Over; Teahing the Teacher; Spot Cash; Name the Day; Stop Kidding; The Jail Bird; On Their Way; Late Lodgers; The Chink; Rough Seas; Gone to the Country; The Lucky Number; Sweet By and By; A Zero Hour; Dodge your Debts; Law and Order; Late Hours; Trolley Troubles; The Joy Rider; The Hustler; The Pickaninny; Sink or Swim; Shake 'em Up; The Corner Pocket; Try, Try Again; Lose No Time; Loose Change; Call the Witness
Years to Come; Blow 'em Up; Stage Struck; Rich Man, Poor Man; Down and Out; Pardon Me; The Bow Wows; High Tide; Hot Off the Press; The Anvil Chorus; Jump Your Job; Stand Pat; Full o' Pep; Kill the Nerve; Days of Old; Light Showers; Do Me a Favor; The Movie; Punch the Clock; Strictly Modern; Hale and Hearty; Many Happy Returns; Some Baby; Friday the 13th; Fair Week; The Man Haters; A Bed of Roses; The Late Lamented; The Dumb-Bells; The Sleuth; The Bride-to-Be; Busy Bees; Take Next Car; The Stone Age; Touch All the Bases; The Truth Juggler; Rough on Romeo; Wet Weather; One Terrible Day; 365 Days; The Landlubber; Bone Dry; Soak the Sheik; Face the Camera; The Uppercut; The Fire Fighters; The Old Sea Dog; Out on Bail; Shiver and Shake; Shine 'em Up; Hook, Line, and Sinker; Washed Ashore; The Flivver; Blaze Away; The Golf Bug; Saturday Morning; Between Meals; Pay the Cashier; Dig Up; Paste and Paper; The Green Cat; The Only Son; The Champeen; Before the Public; Good Morning, Judge; Hired and Fired; I'll Take Vanilla; Leave It to Me; Fire the Fireman; Newly Rich; The Non-Skid Kid; A Quiet Street; The Roustabout; A Tough Winter; Watch Your Wife; A White Blacksmith
Don't Say Die; Harvest Hands; Mr. Hyppo; Once Over; Jailed and Bailed; A Loose Tightwad; The Cobbler; Tight Shoes; The Big Show; Shoot Straight; Do Your Stuff; For Safe Keeping; A Pleasant Journey; Bowled Over; Where Am I? Sunny Spain; Speed the Swede; California or Bust; The Noon Whistle; White Wings; Giants vs. Yanks; Don't Flirt; Sold at Auction; For Art's Sake; Back Stage; Under Two Jags; The Watch Dog; Fresh Eggs; Pick and Shovel; Courtship of Miles Sandwich; Dogs of War; Collars and Cuffs; The Uncovered Wagon; Kill or Cure; Jack Frost; ForGuests Only; Lodge Night; Gas and Air; Oranges and Lemons; Post No Bills; The Mystery Man; Be Honest; Live Wires; July Days; Short Orders; Take the Air; The Walkout; Let's Build; A Man about Town; No Noise; Finger Prints; Roughest Africa; Stepping Out; No Pets; Frozen Hearts; Winner Take All; Stage Fright; Heavy Seas; It's a Gift; Derby Day; Save the Ship; Go West; The Soilers; Sunday Calm; Fully Insured; Scorching Sands; The Great Outdoors; Join the Circus; Mother's Joy; Lovey Dovey; It's a Boy; The Darkest Hour; One of the Family; At First Sight; Tire Troubles; The Big Idea; Bowled Over; The Knockout; Once Over
The White Sheep (+ sc); The Bar Fly; Help One Another; Just a Minute; Big Business; Powder and Smoke; The Man Pays; Political Pull; Hard Knocks; Love's Detour; The Buccaneers; Love's Reward; Hunters Bold; Don't Forget; The Fraidy Cat; Seein' Things; Friend Husband; Our Little Nell; Hit the High Spots; One at a Time; Get Busy; Commencement Day; Publicity Pays; North of 50–50; April Fool; Bottle Babies; Position Wanted; Cradle Robbers; Up and at 'em; Fast Black; Suffering Shakespeare; Jeffries, Jr.; Why Husbands Go Mad; Radio Mad; A Ten Minute Egg; Seeing Nellie Home; It's a Bear; A Hard-Boiled Tenderfoot; Sweet Daddy; High Society; Why Men Work; South o' the North Pole; Outdoor Pajamas; The Sun Down Limited; Sittin' Pretty; Should Landlords Live?; The Lost Dog; Too Many Mammas; The Goofy Age; Every Man for Himself; Bungalow Boobs; The Sky Plumber; Hot Stuff; Accidental Accidents; Hot Heels; Fast Company; All Wet; Are Blond Men Bashful?; Deaf, Dumb, and Daffy; The Poor Fish; Meet the Missus; The Mysterious Mystery; The Royal Razz; Just a Good Guy; The Rubberneck; The Wages of Tin; The Rat's Knuckes; The Big Town; Hello Baby; Laugh That Off; The Family Entrance; Fighting Fluid; A Perfect Lady; Stole Goods; Young Oldfield
All Wool; Are Husbands Human?; Are Parents Pickles?; Ask Grandma; Bad Boy; Better Movies; The Big Kick; Big Red Riding Hood; Black Hand Blues; The Bouncer; Boys Will Be Joys; The Caretaker's Daughter; Change the Needle; Chasing the Chaser; Circus Fever; Cuckoo Love; Daddy Goes a-Grunting; Dog Days; Excuse My Glove; Flaming Flappers; The Fox Hunt; Grief in Bagdad; Hard Boiled; The Haunted Honeymoon; His Wooden Wedding; Hold My Baby; In the Grease!; Innocent Husbands; Laughing Ladies; Looking for Sally; The Love Bug; Madame Sans Jane; Mary, Queen of Tots; Moonlight and Noses; No Father to Guide Him; Official Officers; One Wild Ride; Papa, Be Good!; Plain and Fancy Girls; A Punch in the Nose; Riders of the Kitchen Range; The Royal Four Flush; A Sailor Papa; Sherlock Sleuth; Shootin' Injuns; Should Husbands Be Watched?; Should Sailors Marry?; Solid Ivory; Somewhere in Somewhere; Starvation Blues; Sure-Mike; Tame Men and Wild Women; Tell It to a Policeman; There Goes the Bride; Thundering Landlords; The Uneasy Three; Unfriendly Enemies; What Price Goofy?; Wild Papa; Your Own Back Yard
Tol'able Romeo; Hold Everything; Good Cheer; What's the World Coming To?; Charley My Boy; Long Pants; Your Husband's Past; Buried Treasure; The Hug Bug; Mam, Behave; Monkey Business; Dizzy Daddies; Wife Tamers; Do Your Duty; Ukelele Sheiks; Baby Clothes; Scared Stiff; Mum's the Word; Don Key, Son of Burro; Say It with Babies; Uncle Tom's Uncle; He Forgot to Remember; Never Too Old; Cow's Kimono; Mighty Like a Moose; Merry Widower; Shivering Spooks; Fourth Alarm; Bromo and Juliet; Wise Guys Prefer Brunettes; Tell 'em Nothing; Get 'em Young; On the Front Page; War Feathers; There Ain't No Santa Claus; 45 Minutes fromHollywood; Telling Whoppers; Many Scrappy Returns
Bring Home the Turkey; Are Brunettes Safe?; Duck Soup; Ten Years Old; Forgotten Sweeties; Love My Dog; Jewish Prudence; Bigger and Better Blondes; Tired Business Men; Eve's Love Letters; Don't Tell Everything; Glorious Fourth; What Women Did for Me; Olympic Games; Should Husbands Come First?; The Way of All Pants; What Every Iceman Knows; A One-Mama Man; Now I'll Tell One; Chicken Feed; Fighting Fathers; The Smile Wins
Dad's Day; Hurdy Gurdy; When Money Comes; Madame Q; Why Is a Plumber?; Thundering Toupees
Let's Do Things; The Pajama Party
On the Loose
Arabian Tights; Nature in the Wrong
The Ballad to Paducah Jail
Films as Producer (Features):
A Sailor Made Man (Newmeyer) (+ co-sc)
Grandma's Boy (Newmeyer) (+ co-sc); Dr. Jack (Newmeyer) (+ co-sc)
Safety Last (Newmeyer and Taylor) (+ co-sc); Why Worry? (Newmeyer and Taylor); The Call of the Wild (Jackman)
The King of Wild Horses (Jackman) (+ sc); Hot Water (Taylor and Newmeyer); The Battling Orioles (Wilde and Guiol) (+ sc)
Black Cyclone (Jackman) (+ sc)
Pardon Us (Parrott)
Pack Up Your Troubles (Marshall and McCarey)
Babes in Toyland (Rogers and Meins)
Vagabond Lady (Taylor); Bonnie Scotland (Horne)
The Bohemian Girl (Horne and Rogers); Kelly the Second (Meins); Mister Cinderella (Sedgwick); Our Relations (Lachman)
Way Out West (Horne)
Merrily We Live (McLeod); Swiss Miss (Blystone); Block-Heads (Blystone); There Goes My Heart (McLeod)
Topper Takes a Trip (McLeod); Zenobia (Douglas)
Of Mice and Men (Milestone); A Chump at Oxford (Goulding); Saps at Sea (Douglas); Captain Caution (Wallace)
Broadway Limited (Douglas); Tanks a Million (Guiol); All American Co-Ed (Prinz and H. Roach, Jr.); Niagara Falls (Douglas); Miss Polly (Guiol); Fiesta (Prinz); Hay Foot (Guiol); Topper Returns (Del Ruth)
Dudes Are Pretty People (H. Roach, Jr.); Brooklyn Orchid (Neumann); About Face (Neumann); Calaboose (H. Roach, Jr.); Fall In (Neumann); Flying with Music (Archainbaud); The McGuerins from Brooklyn (Neumann); Nazty Nuisance (Tryon); Prairie Chickens (H. Roach, Jr.); Taxi, Mister (Neumann); Yanks Ahoy (Neumann); The Devil with Hitler (Douglas)
The Fabulous Joe (Foster) (exec); Curley (Carr) (exec)
Here Comes Troubles (Guiol) (exec); Who Killed Doc Robbin (Carr) (exec)
One Million Years B.C. (Chaffey) (co)
Films as Producer and Director (Features):
The Devil Horse
Men of the North
Fra Diavolo (The Devil's Brother) (co-d)
Captain Fury; The Housekeeper's Daughter
One Million B.C. (co); Turnabout
The Crazy World of Laurel and Hardy (compilation)
By ROACH: articles—
"The Gag's the Thing," in Popular Mechanics (Chicago), May 1935.
"Living with Laughter," in Films and Filming (London), October 1964.
The Silent Picture (London), Spring 1970.
In Hollywood Speaks! An Oral History, by Mike Steen, New York, 1974.
"Golden Silents," in Time Out (London), 20 November 1991.
On ROACH: book—
Everson, William K., The Films of Hal Roach, New York, 1970.
On ROACH: articles—
Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1964.
Rosenberg, Bernard, and Harry Silverstein, in The Real Tinsel, New York, 1970.
"Hal Roach on Laurel & Hardy," in Pratfall, no. 1, 1972.
Classic Images (Indiana, Pennsylvania), July 1983.
"Hal Roach Studios," in Pratfall, no. 2, 1985.
Bann, R.H., "Hal Roach: A Legendary Producer's Beverly Hills Estate," in Architectural Digest (Los Angeles), April 1990.
Facts on File, 5 November 1992.
Obituary in The New York Times, 3 November 1992.
Obituary in Variety (New York), 9 November 1992.
Obituary in Sight and Sound (London), February 1993.
"Hal Roach," in Films in Review (New York), September-October and November-December 1993.
Hogue, P., "Charley with a Y," in Film Comment, March/April 1995.
"10 Years Ago," in Forbes, 10 February 1997.
* * *
Hal Roach was a producer and motion picture executive best remembered for two things. First, he helped create one of the great comedy factories of all time. In the 1920s his studio launched the careers of Laurel and Hardy, and fostered the talents of Harold Lloyd, one of the serious rivals to Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton. The Roach comedy factory produced many of the best-remembered short subjects of the 1930s, including the Our Gang comedies which continue to grind away on television some 60 years after their creation.
By the 1920s Hal Roach had become an established producer, and his comedies had begun to rival the then "King of Comedy," Mack Sennett. Roach smoothly survived the transition to sound, but Sennett did not. Thus, by the mid-1930s it was Roach, distributing through the then dominant major studio, MGM, who could properly be labeled the "King of Comedy." The Our Gang series, the teaming of Laurel and Hardy, and the comedies of Charlie Chase made Roach into a powerful, respected producer of comedy shorts. But Roach did not neglect the talent behind the camera. Indeed his studio helped foster the careers of George Stevens and Leo McCarey, both of whom would move on to become major directors.
The Great Depression served as the Golden Age for the Roach comedy factory. Unfortunately the studio could not develop any stars to rival "Our Gang" and Laurel and Hardy. By 1935 the Roach studio was on the decline as the major studios squeezed them out by creating more and more double features and less and less non-animated shorts subjects. In 1938 Roach sold "Our Gang" to MGM and moved on to try independent feature filmmaking with United Artists.
Roach did as well as any producer at United Artists in the late 1930s and 1940s. It was hard to lose money during the Second World War boom era. Between 1938 and 1941 Roach tendered 14 films through United Artists, including Topper Takes a Trip starring Constance Bennett and Billie Burke, Of Mice and Men starring Lon Chaney, Jr. and Burgess Meredith, and Saps at Sea starring an aging Laurel and Hardy. But a military career creating training films ended what success he had with these low-budget films.
In a less well-known, but equally important contribution, Roach pushed the film industry into the television production business. For example, he set up an early series called Screen Director's Playhouse on which such talents as Leo McCarey, John Ford, and Tay Garnett worked. Unfortunately little came of its efforts in long-term monetary gain. Thus though Fireside Theatre was turned out in quickie fashion at Roach studio for NBC in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Roaches, Senior and Junior, could not create a permanent relationship with the network. Their greatest success came with a comedy show Roach Junior did with Gale Storm called My Little Margie which aired from 1952 to 1955 and many more years in syndication. Hal Roach, Sr. pioneered with television but not well enough to prevent his studio from going bankrupt in 1959 and providing him with an ungraceful retirement.
American filmmaker Hal Roach (1892-1992) was one of the top comedy producers in the early years of Hollywood. Responsible for giving the world such comedic luminaries as Harold Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, and the Our Gang series of short films, his impact was enormous and long-lived. Nor was it limited to movies, as Roach was pioneering in the nascent television industry as well. Intrepid Youth
Roach was born Harold Eugene Roach on January 14, 1892, in Elmira, New York. His parents were Irish immigrants. His father, Charles H., was an insurance and real estate broker, while his mother, Mabel (Bailey), ran a boardinghouse out of the family home. Young Roach was not particularly cut out for formal schooling, leading to his dismissal from “most every school in Elmira,” according to the Famous People of the Finger Lakes Web site. But he did have a knack for fun, with swimming and playing football among his early passions. He also had the good fortune to witness famed magician Harry Houdini perform at Elmira's Chemung River and, perhaps more notably, cultivate a friendship with eminent author and summer resident Mark Twain. Despite such pleasant distractions, however, the small town charms of his hometown were not sufficient to hold Roach's attention for long.
Roach left school and Elmira while still a teenager. He made his way west, working in a variety of jobs, beginning with selling ice cream. Winding up in Alaska for a time, his resume expanded to include such colorful occupations as gold prospector, mule skinner, trucker, and saloon gambler. Wanderlust eventually propelled him to Seattle, Washington, and finally to Los Angeles, California, in 1912. Roach was just 20 years old then, but he had already experienced adventures of which most people only dream. And he still had 80 productive years ahead of him.
Young, barrel-chested, and possessed of genuine cowboy credentials, which is to say that he could competently ride a horse, Roach soon found work in Hollywood at Universal Pictures as a cowboy extra in silent movies for $25 a week. He struck up a friendship with another extra named Harold Lloyd. The film industry was in its infancy at the time, and the newfound pals were fascinated by the burgeoning new field. Lloyd was content enough as an actor, but Roach aspired to become a producer. Happily, Roach's coming into a small inheritance put both men on track to realize their goals.
Early Studio Years
Armed with a $3,000 legacy, Roach founded a small production company, which came to be known as the Hal Roach Studios, in 1914. Lloyd came onboard as the company's star comedian for three dollars a day, and Roach began making short films for approximately $350 each. This initial foray into the movie business, however, suffered from a lack of distributors, and Roach took a brief hiatus to work as a director at the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. A deal with distributor the Pathe Exchange had him back on his own lot by 1916, and history was soon in the making.
Almost from the onset, Roach's studio was known as the “Lot of Fun.” Performers, directors, writers, and stagehands alike were given nearly free rein to do their respective jobs. This management style resulted in a relaxed, congenial atmosphere that employees, naturally, enjoyed immensely. Not incidentally, the studio also started to earn money.
Lloyd was integral to the new studio's increasing success. Mildly popular with his derivative characters of “Willie Work” and “Lonesome Luke,” his popularity skyrocketed with the introduction of his “Glasses Character” in 1917. Lloyd gave the previously untouchable Charlie Chaplin some stiff competition, and Roach's studio was established as a formidable presence in Hollywood.
As his studio prospered, Roach was able to do things he could not do before. Some were personal, such as bringing his parents out to the West Coast and putting his father to work for him. Others were business, such as building up his talent roster to include such stars as Snub Pollard, Will Rogers, and “Sunshine” Sammy Morrison. He scored another coup in 1922 when he released the first of the Our Gang series. Comedies based on the trials and triumphs of regular children, the series was hugely successful. It became one of the most enduring of all short subject series (produced by Roach from 1922 to 1938 and MGM from 1938 to 1944), and spawned an equally beloved syndicated television program called The Little Rascals. But Roach had even greater contributions to offer.
Lloyd left the Hal Roach Studios in 1924 to try his hand at setting up his own production firm. While his departure did not bring the studio to a grinding halt, it did leave Roach casting about for a new comedy star. He briefly attempted to make do with animals, but quickly returned to humankind to get audiences chuckling. The Our Gang series was still going strong, of course, and writer/director Charley Chase successfully lent his comedic acting skills to the cause, but a more general jumpstart remained just out of reach. Then inspiration struck.
In 1926 Stan Laurel was working as a comedian/ director and Oliver Hardy was a supporting actor and vaudeville comedian. Not unlike Roach, Hardy was large and full of life. Laurel, on the other hand, was small and fastidious. Both men, however, were funny, and when Roach hit upon the idea of selling them as a team, he created pure magic.
Part of what set Roach's comedies apart, especially from those of arch rival Mack Sennett, was his attention to story and character in addition to sight gags and slapstick humor. Laurel and Hardy were fine examples of that focus, managing to be distinctly human and indisputably hilarious at the same time. Their inaugural outing together, in Roach's The Battle of the Century (1927), set the world's record for custard pie throwing and became one of the most noted comedy short films of all time. Audiences adored the duo, and they were bona fide stars within the year.
The Laurel and Hardy/Roach alliance was to last until 1940, and it survived the perilous transitions from silent films to talkies, and from shorts to feature films. This was particularly significant in that it illustrated Roach's willingness to explore new technologies and keep pace with the changing times, traits not necessarily shared by other independent studio bosses. From shorts such as 1932's The Music Box, to features such as 1937's Way Out West, to their final effort together in 1940's Saps at Sea, Roach and his endearing team created a string of ageless classics still admired and enjoyed in the twenty-first century.
Although Laurel and Hardy were the bread and butter of Roach's studio throughout the 1930s, there were other winning performers as well. Chase stayed with Roach until 1936, for instance, starring in his own series of shorts. ZaSu Pitts, Patsy Kelly, Thelma Todd, and Billy Gilbert had their own star turns at the studio, and actors including Jean Harlow, Boris Karloff, Fay Wray, and Janet Gaynor also appeared in Roach vehicles over the years.
Short films became steadily less profitable to produce during the 1930s, as double features began to take center stage. Roach's very last short was 1938's Hide and Seek, an Our Gang title produced just before he sold the series to MGM. But he had not been ignoring features. He released such popular and disparate movies as 1937's Topper (and its sequels), the 1939 drama Of Mice and Men, and 1940's One Million B.C. But the diminished output necessitated by the time demands of feature films resulted in financial strain on the studio. And World War II left its mark, as Roach received a colonel's commission and made training films for the military in other locales. His studio, dubbed “Fort Roach,” was also used for such purposes, employing actors such as Ronald Reagan and Alan Ladd. After the war, though, Roach was once again looking to land on his feet.
Television and Beyond
The aftermath of World War II found Roach scrambling to regain his place in Hollywood. During his absence movie funding had become more difficult to procure, so he set his sights on a new media sensation called television. He was, characteristically, one of the first major film producers to realize the potential of that fledgling industry and, just as true to form, set about to conquer it.
Roach founded the Hal Roach Television Corporation in 1948. Together with his son, Hal Roach Jr., he embarked upon yet another adventure. Father and son produced such programs as Screen Director's Playhouse, The Stu IrwinShow, The Gale Storm Show, and My Little Margie. They also rented their facilities for the production of TV series that included The George Raft Show, Blondie, Amos 'n Andy, The Lone Ranger, Groucho Marx, The Abbott and Costello Show, Racket Squad, and The Life of Riley. For a while, it worked. By 1951 the studio was producing 1,500 hours of television programming, and four years later it had become the biggest producer of filmed television shows. The pioneering and winning streak did not go on forever, however. Roach sold his studio to his son and retired in 1955. It had descended into bankruptcy by the early 1960s, and the entire lot was torn down in 1963.
Although one might reasonably argue that Roach's heyday had passed by the 1950s, his life and times were far from finished. He remained active and productive for decades beyond his official retirement, overseeing distribution of his films, becoming a vital participant on the talk show circuit, and even producing an occasional project. He served, for example, as associate producer of 1966's One Million Years B.C., as well as executive producer of television's The Little Kidnappers and Lantern Hill (both 1990). Roach was honored with an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1983, and again by the Academy with a tribute to his work at the 1992 awards ceremony. By that time Roach had reached his one hundredth birthday, an accomplishment for which he was feted from Elmira to Los Angeles to London. Still mentally acute and physically hale as he attained the centenarian rank, his typical irreverence was also intact. Asked about his remarkable longevity by the Albany Times Union, Roach said, “I started smoking at the age of 11 and quit two years ago because of a cough. I eat anything I want, whenever I want.”
Time finally caught up with Roach on November 2, 1992, when he died in Los Angeles. He was predeceased by his wives, Margaret Nichols (1940) and Lucille Prin (1981), and two of his children, Hal Jr. (1972) and Margaret (1963). What lived on was a legacy of warmth and laughter that would delight many generations to come.
Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 3: 1991-1993, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001.
Albany Times Union, January 12, 1992.
Times (London, England), January 9, 1992; November 4, 1992.
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“Hal Roach,” Film Reference, http://www.filmreference.com/Writers-and-Production-Artists-Po-Ro/Roach-Hal.html (December 3, 2007).
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“Hal Roach,” Laurel and Hardy Central, http://laurelandhardycentral.com/roach2.htm (December 3, 2007).
“Harold Eugene ‘Hal’ Roach, Sr. (1892-1992),” Famous People of the Finger Lakes, http://www.ilovethefingerlakes.com/history/famous-people-roach.htm (December 3, 2007).