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Hal Roach Profile

Hal Roach was a former mule skinner and gold prospector who stumbled into film in 1912, serving as stuntman and bit player in a number of Universal action films and westerns. With backing from Pathe, Roach and former Universal cohort Harold Lloyd formed the Rolin company in 1914 and commenced production on a series of comic shorts starring Lloyd. Such was the success of the "Lonesome Luke" films that Roach was able to take over a large, fully equipped studio in Culver City in 1919. There he continued to turn out successful comedies, distinguished from the Keystone company's product by an emphasis on narrative structure as opposed to sight gags.

In 1921, Roach inaugurated the "Our Gang" series, which remained popular over the next two decades. Other notable productions included "Safety Last" (1923), starring Lloyd; "From Soup to Nuts" (1928), starring Laurel and Hardy (whom Roach had first teamed the previous year); and "Of Mice and Men" (1939), directed by Lewis Milestone. Although Roach became increasingly involved with the administration of his organization, he continued to enjoy occasional stints as a director. Actors who developed their careers under Roach's guidance included Mickey Rooney, Charlie Chase and Zasu Pitts; directors included George Stevens, Norman Z. McLeod and Leo McCarey.

Adept at staying abreast of developments within the industry, Roach moved into sound films in the early 1930s, switched to feature production (in partnership with his son, Hal Roach, Jr.) later in the decade, and turned his attention to TV in the late 1940s. The Hal Roach Television Corporation, formed in 1948, enjoyed intermittent success until its eventual demise in the late 1950s. Living until the age of 100, Roach was recognized late in life as one of the "grand old men" of the American cinema, and received an honorary Oscar in 1983 "in recognition of his unparalleled record of distinguished contributions to the motion picture art form."

Biographical data supplied by TCMdb

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