Oliver Hardy

Best known as one half of the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, the American comedian and actor Oliver Hardy sadly died August 7, 1957. He was born 18th January 1892 in Harlem, Georgia. The family moved to Madison, Georgia in 1891, before Norvell’s birth. Emily Hardy owned a house in Harlem. As a child, Hardy was sometimes difficult. He was sent to Georgia Military College in Milledgeville as a youngster and then attended Young Harris College in north Georgia in the 1905-1906 school year fall semester (September–January) when he was 13. He was in the junior high component of that institution of the time (the equivalent of high school today). Hardy had little interest in formal education, although he acquired an early interest in music and theater, His mother recognized his talent for singing and sent him to Atlanta to study music and voice with singing teacher Adolf Dahm-Petersen. Hardy skipped some of his lessons to sing in the Alcazar Theater, a cinema, for US$3.50 a week. He subsequently decided to go back to Milledgeville. Around 1910, Hardy began using the name “Oliver Norvell Hardy”, adding the first name “Oliver” as a tribute to his father. He appeared as “Oliver N. Hardy” in the 1910 U.S. census, and he used “Oliver” as his first name in all subsequent legal records, marriage announcements, etc. Hardy was initiated into Freemasonry at Solomon Lodge No. 20 in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1910, when a movie theater opened in Hardy’s hometown of Milledgeville, he became the projectionist, ticket taker, janitor, and manager. He soon became obsessed with the new motion picture industry and was convinced that he could do a better job than the actors he saw. In 1913, Hardy moved to Jacksonville, Florida, And began as a cabaret and vaudeville singer at night, and at the Lubin Manufacturing Company during the day. He then met Madelyn Saloshin, a pianist, whom he married on November 17, 1913, in Macon, Georgia. In 1914 he made his first movie, Outwitting Dad (1914), for the Lubin studio. He was billed as O. N. Hardy. In his personal life, he was known as “Babe” Hardy, AndIn many of his later films at Lubin, he was billed as “Babe Hardy.” Hardy was a big man at 6’1″ tall and weighing up to 300 pounds. His size placed limitations on the roles he could play. He was most often cast as “the heavy” or the villain. He also frequently had roles in comedy shorts, his size complementing the character.

By 1915, Hardy had made 50 short one-reeler films at Lubin. He later moved to New York and made films for the Pathé, Casino and Edison Studios. After returning to Jacksonville, he made films for the Vim Comedy Company. He also worked for the King Bee studio, which bought Vim and worked with Bill Ruge, Billy West (a Charlie Chaplin imitator), and comedic actress Ethel Burton Palmer and continued portraying “heavies” for West, often imitating Eric Campbell to West’s Chaplin.) In 1917 Hardy moved to Los Angeles, working freelance for several Hollywood studios. Hardy made more than 40 films for Vitagraph, mostly playing the “heavy” for Larry Semon. In 1920 he divorced his wife and in 1921, Hardy married again, to actress Myrtle Reeves. In 1921, he appeared in the movie The Lucky Dog, produced by G.M. (“Broncho Billy”) Anderson and starring a young British comedian named Stan Laurel. Oliver Hardy played the part of a robber, trying to stick up Stan’s character.

In 1924, Hardy began working at Hal Roach Studios with the Our Gang films and Charley Chase. In 1925, he starred as the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz and in the film Yes, Yes, Nanette!, starring Jimmy Finlayson and directed by Stan Laurel. He also appeared in films featuring Clyde Cooke and Bobby Ray. In 1926, Hardy was scheduled to appear in Get ‘Em Young. But was hospitalized after being burned by a hot leg of lamb. So Laurel, who had been working as a gag man and director at Roach Studios, appeared instead. in 1926 Laurel and Hardy both appeared in the film , 45 Minutes from Hollywood,

In 1927, Laurel and Hardy began sharing screen time together in Slipping Wives, Duck Soup (no relation to the 1933 Marx Brothers’ film of the same name) and With Love and Hisses. They began producing a huge body of short movies, including The Battle of the Century (1927) (with one of the largest pie fights ever filmed), Should Married Men Go Home? (1928), Two Tars (1928), Unaccustomed As We Are (1929, marking their transition to talking pictures) Berth Marks (1929), Blotto (1930), Brats (1930), Another Fine Mess (1930), Be Big! (1931), and many others.In 1929, they appeared in their first feature, in one of the revue sequences of Hollywood Revue of 1929, and the following year they appeared as the comic relief in a lavish all-color (in Technicolor) musical feature entitled The Rogue Song. In 1931, they starred in their first full-length movie, “Pardon Us” and the 1932 short film”The Music Box” which won them an Academy Award for best short film. In 1936, Hardy and Myrtle Reeves divorced and in 1939 Hardy made Zenobia with Harry Langdon. Then In 1939 Laurel and Hardy made The Flying Deuces and Hardy met Virginia Lucille Jones, a script girl, whom he married the next year. In 1939, Laurel and Hardy made A Chump at Oxford (1940) (which features a moment of role reversal, with Oliver becoming a subordinate to a temporarily concussed Stan and Saps at Sea. They began performing for the USO, supporting the Allied troops during World War II. They teamed up to make films for 20th Century Fox and later Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer including The Bullfighters in 1945.

In 1947, Laurel and Hardy went on a six-week tour of the United Kingdom Which was lengthened to include engagements in Scandinavia, Belgium, France, as well as a Royal Command Performance for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. They continued to make live appearances in the United Kingdom and France for the next several years, until 1954, often using new sketches and material that Laurel had written for them. In 1949, John Wayne, asked Hardy to play a supporting role in The Fighting Kentuckian. Hardy had previously worked with Wayne and John Ford in a charity production of the play What Price Glory? and Frank Capra later invited Hardy to play a cameo role in Riding High with Bing Crosby in 1950.

During 1950–51, Laurel and Hardy made their final film. Atoll K (also known as Utopia) in which Laurel inherits an island, and the boys set out to sea, where they encounter a storm and discover a brand new island, rich in uranium, making them powerful and wealthy. Oliver Hardy, along with Stan Laurel, made two live television appearances: In 1953, on a live BBC television broadcast of the popular show “Face the Music” with host Henry Hall and in December 1954, on NBC’s This Is Your Life. They also appeared in a filmed insert for the BBC-TV show This Is Music Hall in 1955, which was their final public appearance together. Following This Is Your Life they were asked to produce a series of TV shows based on the Mother Goose fables with Hal Roach, Jr. However the series was postponed when Laurel suffered a stroke and Hardy suffered a heart attack and stroke from which he never physically recovered.

In total they appeared together in 107 films including 40 short sound films, 32 silent films and 23 full-length feature films, and made 12 guest or cameo appearances, including the recently discovered Galaxy of Stars promotional film (1936). Their silent film Big Business (1929) was added to the Library of Congress as a national treasure in 1992. The works of Laurel and Hardy have been re-released in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals, 16mm and 8mm home movies, feature-film compilations, and home videos since the 1930s. They were voted the seventh greatest comedy act in a 2005 UK poll by fellow comedians. The duo’s signature tune, known variously as “The Cuckoo Song”, “Ku-Ku”, or “The Dance of the Cuckoos”, played on the opening credits of their films. The official Laurel and Hardy appreciation society is known as The Sons of the Desert after the film of the same name. A biopic featuring John C.Reilly and Steve Coogan has also been made.

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Peter Cook

The late great English actor, satirist, writer and comedian Peter Cook tragically died on 9 January 1995, aged 57, having suffered a gastrointestinal haemorrhage. He was born 17 November 1937. he is regarded as An extremely influential figure in modern British comedy & a leading light of the British satire boom of the 1960s & has been described by Stephen Fry as “the funniest man who ever drew breath”. Cook was closely associated with anti-establishment comedy which emerged in Britain and the United States in the late 1950s. Educated at Radley College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, Cook joined the Cambridge University Liberal Club & It was at Pembroke thatCook performed and wrote comedy sketches as a member of the Cambridge Footlights Club, of which he became president in 19which was60′s, & wrote for Kenneth Williams, before joining a four-man group satirical stage show, Beyond the Fringe, with Jonathan Miller, Alan Bennett and Dudley Moore, which included Cook impersonating the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan.In 1961 Cook opened the Establishment club in central London. Cook said it was a satirical venue modelled on “those wonderful Berlin cabarets… which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the outbreak of the Second World War”. Cook befriended and supported Australian comedian and actor Barry Humphries, who began his British solo career at the club. Cook’s chiselled looks and languid manner led Humphries to observe that whereas most people take after their father or mother, Cook seemed more like an aunt. Dudley Moore’s jazz trio also played in the basement of the club during the early 1960s.

In 1962, the BBC commissioned a pilot for a television series of satirical sketches based on the Establishment club, cacook That Was The Week That Was ‘.Around this time, Cook provided financial backing for the satirical magazine Private Eye. For a time, the magazine was produced from the premises of the Establishment club. Cook ‘s first regular television spot was on Granada Television’s Braden Beat with Bernard Braden, where he featured his most enduring character: the static, dour and monotonal E.L. Wisty.Cook’s comedy partnership with Dudley Moore led to Not Only… But Also. Using few props, they created dry and absurd television. Cook played characters such as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling and the two men created their Pete and Dud alter egos. Other sketches included “Superthunderstingcar”, a parody of the Gerry Anderson marionette TV shows, and Cook’s pastiche of 1960s trendy artsdocumentaries – satirised in a TV segment on Greta Garbo. A compilation of six half-hour programmes, The Best of What’s Left of Not Only…But Also. Cook and Moore began to act in films together such as With The Wrong Box (1966) and Bedazzled (1967) , the underlying story of Bedazzled is a comic parody of Faust, which stars Cook as George Spigott (The Devil) who tempts Stanley Moon (Moore), a frustrated, short-order chef, with the promise of gaining his heart’s desire – the unattainable beauty and waitress at his cafe, Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron) – in exchange for his soul, but repeatedly tricks him. The film features cameo appearances by Barry Humphries as Envy and Raquel Welch as Lust. Moore composed the soundtrack music and co-wrote (with Cook) the songs performed in the film. In 1968, Cook and Moore did four one-hour programmes entitled Goodbye Again with John Cleese ,which were based on the Pete and Dud characters.

ln 1970, Cook took over a a satirical film called The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer . As a reult Cook became a favourite of the chat show circuit sadly his own effort at hosting one for the BBC in 1971, Where Do I Sit? didn’t work and He was replaced by Michael Parkinson, which started Parkinson’s career as a chat show host. Cook and Moore used sketches from Not Only….But Also and Goodbye Again with new material for a stage revue called Behind the Fridge. Which proved very popular and won Tony and Grammy Awards. When it finished, Moore stayed in the U.S. to pursue a film career in Hollywood. Cook returned to Britain and recorded the more risqué humour of Pete and Dud like “Derek and Clive”. One of these audio recordings was also filmed Two further Derek and Clive albums were released, the last accompanied by a film.In 1978 Cook appeared on British music series Revolver where emerging punk and new wave acts played . Cook also played multiple roles on the 1977 concept album Consequences, which was A mixture of spoken comedy and progressive rock with an environmental subtext. Cook appeared at the first three fund-raising galas staged by humourists John Cleese and Martin Lewis on behalf of Amnesty International. The benefits were dubbed The Secret Policeman’s Balls, where he performed on all three nights of the first show in April 1976, A Poke in the Eye (with a Sharp Stick), as an individual performer and as a member of the cast of Beyond The Fringe, which reunited for the first time since the 1960s. He also appeared in a Monty Python sketch, taking the place of Eric Idle. Cook was on the cast album of the show and in the film, Pleasure At Her Majesty’s. He was in the second Amnesty gala in May 1977, An Evening Without Sir Bernard Miles. It was retitled The Mermaid Frolics. Cook performed monologues and skits with Terry Jones.

In June 1979, Cook performed all four nights of The Secret Policeman’s Ball – teaming with John Cleese. Cook also performed a couple of solo pieces and a sketch with Eleanor Bron, PLUS the “End Of The World” sketch from Beyond The Fringe., he also wrote and voiced radio commercials to advertise the film in the UK. He also hosted a spoof film awards ceremony that was part of the world première of the film in London in March 1982. Following Cook’s 1987 stage reunion with Moore for the annual U.S. benefit for the homeless, Comic Relief (not related to the UK Comic Relief benefits), Cook repeated the reunion for a British audience by performing with Moore at the 1989 Amnesty benefit The Secret Policeman’s Biggest Ball. In 1980, Cook moved to Hollywood and appeared as an uptight English butler to a wealthy American woman in a short-lived U.S. television sitcom The Two of Us, In 1980, Cook starred in l Peter Cook & Co. which included memorable, comedy sketches, such as a Tales of the Unexpected parody “Tales Of The Much As We Expected”. The cast included John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Beryl Reid, Paula Wilcox and Terry Jones. ln 1983 Cook played the role of Richard III in the first episode of Blackadder, “The Foretelling”, which parodies Laurence Olivier’s portrayal. He narrated the short film “Diplomatix” by Norwegian comedy trio Kirkvaag, Lystad and Mjøen, which won the “Special Prize of the City of Montreux” at the Montreux Comedy Festival in 1985. In 1986 he partnered Joan Rivers on her UK talk show. He appeared as Mr Jolly in 1987 in The Comic Strip Presents’ Mr Jolly Lives Next Door.In 1988, Cook appeared as a contestant on the improvisation comedy show, Whose Line Is It Anyway? Cook was declared the winner, his prize being to read the credits in the style of a New York cab driver. Cook returned to the BBC as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling for an appearance with Ludovic Kennedy in A Life in Pieces. The 12 interviews saw Sir Arthur recount his life based on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Unscripted interviews with Cook as Streeb-Greebling and satirist Chris Morris were recorded in late 1993 and broadcast as Why Bother? on BBC Radio 3. On 17 December 1993, Cook appeared on Clive Anderson Talks Back as four characters – biscuit tester and alien abductee Norman House, football manager and motivational speaker Alan Latchley, judge Sir James Beauchamp and rock legend Eric Daley. he also read links for Arena’s “Radio Night”. He also appeared, in the 1993 Christmas special of One Foot in the Grave (“One Foot in the Algarve”), playing a muckraking tabloid journalist.

Cook made his last TV appearance in November 1994. Cook died in the intensive-care unit of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London. Days earlier he had been taken in and announced, “I feel a bit poorly”. Dudley Moore attended Cook’s memorial service in London in May 1995 and he and Martin Lewis presented a two-night memorial for Cook in Los Angeles the following November, to mark what would have been Cook’s 58th birthday.Cook is acknowledged as the one of the main influence on British comedians from amateur dramatic clubs of British universities to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and then to the radio and television.ln 1999 the minor planet 20468 Petercook, in the main asteroid belt, was named after him.Ten years after his death, Cook was ranked at number one in the Comedians’ Comedian, a poll of 300 comics, comedy writers, producers and directors. Channel 4 broadcast Not Only But Always, a TV film dramatising the relationship between Cook and Moore, with Rhys Ifans portraying Cook. At the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe a play, , examined the relationship from Moore’s view, Pete and Dud: Come Again. Tom Goodman-Hill played Cook.At the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Goodbye – the (after)life of Cook & Moore was presented at the Gilded Balloon. The play imagined the newly dead Moore meeting Cook in Limbo, also inhabited by other comic actors with whom they had worked, including Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Williams. In May 2009 the play was seen again in London’s West End at the Leicester Square Theatre ) with Jonathan Hansler as Cook, Adam Bampton Smith as Moore and Clive Greenwood as everyone else.A green plaque was unveiled by the Heritage Foundation at the site of the Establishment club on 15 February 2009.

And now for something completely different…

The Late, Great comedian Graham Chapman was born 8 January 1941, in Stoneygate, Leicester. He started out in the 1960′s writing professionally for the BBC alongside John Cleese, initially for David Frost, but also for Marty Feldman. Chapman also contributed sketches to the BBC radio series I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again and television programmes such as The Illustrated Weekly Hudd (starring Roy Hudd), Cilla Black, This is Petula Clark, and This Is Tom Jones. Chapman, Cleese, and Tim Brooke-Taylor later joined Feldman in the television comedy series At Last the 1948 Show. There, Chapman displayed a gift for deadpan comedy (particularly evident in the sketch “The Minister Who Falls to Pieces”) and for imitating various British dialects. Chapman and Cleese also wrote for the long-running television comedy series Doctor in the House. Chapman also co-wrote several episodes with Bernard McKenna and David Sherlock.

Chapman joined British sketch comedy series Monty Python alongside Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, which was first aired on BBC One on the 5th October 1969. The shows were composed of surreality, risqué or innuendo-laden humour, sight gags and observational sketches without punchlines. It also featured Terry Gilliam’s wonderful and imaginatively bizarre animations, often sequenced or merged with live action. Broadcast by the BBC. with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, The show often targets the idiosyncrasies of British life, especially that of professionals, and is at times politically charged, and over the years many of the sketches have attained classic status including The Lumberjack Song, Ministry of Silly Walks, Upper class twit of the Year,Spam song, The Dead Parrot Sketch and Bicycle Repair Man. The members of Monty Python were all highly educated. Terry Jones and Michael Palin are Oxford University graduates; Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman attended Cambridge University; and American-born member Terry Gilliam is an Occidental College graduate. Chapman also played the lead roles in two of the Python’s Films – Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Life of Brian

After reuniting with the other Pythons in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Chapman began a lengthy series of American college tours where he would tell the audience anecdotes about Monty Python, the Dangerous Sports Club, Keith Moon, and other subjects. In 1988, he appeared in the Iron Maiden video Can I Play with Madness. Chapman also secured funding for his much cherished pirate project Yellowbeard in 1982. Once again, Chapman collaborated with writer Bernard McKenna and for the first time with Peter Cook. The film, which starred Chapman as the eponymous pirate, also featured appearances from Peter Cook, Marty Feldman, Cleese, Idle, Spike Milligan, and Cheech & Chong. It marks the last appearance of Feldman, who suffered a fatal heart attack during shooting. It was released in 1983 to mixed reviews. His final project was to have been a TV series called Jake’s Journey. Although the pilot episode was made, there were difficulties selling the project. Chapman was also to have played a guest role as a television presenter in the Red Dwarf episode “Timeslides”, but tragically died 4 October 1989 in Maidstone, before filming was to have started.

Charles Addams

The American cartoonist Charles “Chas” Samuel Addams was born 7 January 1912 in Westfield, New Jersey. His father encouraged him to draw from an early age, and Addams did cartoons for the Westfield High School student literary magazine, Weathervane. He attended Colgate University in 1929 and 1930, and the University of Pennsylvania, where a fine-arts building on campus is named after him, in 1930 and 1931. In front of the building there is also a sculpture of the silhouettes of Addams Family characters. He then studied at the Grand Central School of Art in New York City in 1931 and 1932.

In 1933 he joined the layout department of True Detective magazine, where he had to retouch photos of corpses that appeared in the magazine’s stories to remove the blood from them. Addams complained that “A lot of those corpses were more interesting the way they were.” His first drawing in The New Yorker ran on February 6, 1932 (a sketch of a window washer), and his cartoons ran regularly in the magazine from 1938, when he drew the first instance of what came to be called the Addams Family. He remained a freelancer throughout that time

The Addams Family, were known for their particularly black humour and macabre antics and The Addams Family television series began after David Levy, a television producer, approached Addams with an offer to create it with a little help from the humorist. All Addams had to do was give his characters names and more characteristics for the actors to use in portrayals. The series ran on ABC for two seasons, from 1964 to 1966. and also became the basis for two two animated TV series, three motion pictures, and a Broadway musical. Addams was “sociable and debonair,” and was described by a biographer as “A well-dressed, courtly man with silvery back-combed hair and a gentle manner, he bore no resemblance to a fiend.” Addams was a bit of a lady’s man and was also friends with Greta Garbo, Joan Fontaine, and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Addams sadly Passed Away on September 29, 1988 at St. Clare’s Hospital and Health Center in New York City, having suffered a heart attack while still in his car after parking it. An ambulance took him from his apartment to the hospital, where he died in the emergency room. As he had requested, a wake was held rather than a funeral; he had wished to be remembered as a “good cartoonist”. He was cremated and his ashes were buried in the pet cemetery of his estate “The Swamp”.

W. C. Fields

American comedian, actor, juggler and writer W. C. Fields (William Claude Dukenfield) sadly died December 25, 1946. He was born 29 January 1880 in Darby, Pennsylvania, the oldest child of a working-class family. His father, James Lydon Dukenfield (1840–1913), was from an English family that emigrated from Sheffield, England in 1854 James Dukenfield served in Company M of the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment in the American Civil War and was wounded in 1863. As a child Claude Dukenfield (as he was known) had a volatile relationship with his short-tempered father. He ran away from home repeatedly, beginning at the age of nine, often to stay with his grandmother or an uncle. His education was sporadic, and did not progress beyond grade school. At age twelve, he worked with his father selling produce from a wagon, until the two had a fight that resulted in Fields running away once again. In 1893, he worked briefly at the Strawbridge and Clothier department store, and in an oyster house. Fields later embellished stories of his childhood, depicting himself as a runaway who lived by his wits on the streets of Philadelphia from an early age, but his home life seems to have been reasonably happy.

He discovered a talent for juggling, and was inspired to perfect his performance. So by the age of 17, he was living with his family and performing a juggling act at church and theater shows. In 1904 Fields’ father visited him for two months in England while he was performing there in music hall. Fields enabled his father to retire, purchased him a summer home, and encouraged his parents and siblings to learn to read and write, so they could communicate with him by letter.

Inspired by the success of the “Original Tramp Juggler”, James Edward Harrigan, Fields adopted a similar costume of scruffy beard and shabby tuxedo and entered vaudeville as a genteel “tramp juggler” in 1898, using the name W. C. Fields by 1900, he decided to distinguish himself from the many “tramp” acts in vaudeville, he changed his costume and makeup, and began touring as “The Eccentric Juggler”He manipulated cigar boxes, hats, and other objects in what appears to have been a unique and fresh act, parts of which are reproduced in some of his films, notably in The Old Fashioned Way. By the early 1900s, he was regularly called the world’s greatest juggler. He became a headliner in North America and Europe, and toured Australia and South Africa in 1903. When Fields played for English-speaking audiences, he found he could get more laughs by adding muttered patter and sarcastic asides to his routines, when Fields would often “reprimand a particular ball which had not come to his hand accurately”, and “mutter weird and unintelligible expletives to his cigar when it missed his mouth”.

In 1905 Fields made his Broadway debut in a musical comedy, The Ham Tree. His role in the show required him to deliver lines of dialogue, which he had never before done onstage. In 1913 he performed on a bill with Sarah Benhardt first at the New York Palace, and then in England in a royal performance for George V and Queen Mary and continued touring in vaudeville until 1915. From 1915, he appeared on Broadway in Florenz Ziegfeld’s Ziegfeld Follies revue, delighting audiences with a wild billiards skit, complete with bizarrely shaped cues and a custom-built table used for a number of hilarious gags and surprising trick shots. His pool game is reproduced, in part, in some of his films, notably in Six of a Kind (1934). The act was a success, and Fields starred in the Follies from 1916 to 1922, not as a juggler but as a comedian in ensemble sketches. In addition to multiple editions of the Follies, Fields starred in the Broadway musical comedy Poppy (1923), wherein he perfected his persona as a colorful small-time con man. His stage costume from 1915 onwards featured a top hat, cut-away coat and collar, and a cane—an appearance remarkably similar to the comic strip character Ally Sloper, who may have been the inspiration for Fields’ costume, according to Roger Sabin. The Sloper character may in turn have been inspired by Dickens’ Mr Micawber, whom Fields later played on film.

In 1915, Fields starred in two short comedies, Pool Sharks and His Lordship’s Dilemma, filmed in New York. His stage commitments prevented him from doing more movie work until 1924, when he played a supporting role in Janice Meredith, a Revolutionary War romance. He reprised his Poppy role in a silent-film adaptation, retitled Sally of the Sawdust (1925) and directed by D. W. Griffith. His next starring role was in the Paramount Pictures film It’s the Old Army Game (1926), which featured his friend Louise Brooks, later a screen legend for her role in G. W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929) in Germany. Fields’ 1926 film, which included a silent version of the porch sequence that would later be expanded in the sound film It’s a Gift (1934), had only middling success at the box office. After Fields’ next two features for Paramount failed to produce hits, the studio teamed him with Chester Conklin for three features which were commercial failures and are now lost.

Fields wore a scruffy clip-on mustache in all of his silent films which he perversely insisted on wearing because he knew it was disliked by audiences. Fields wore it in his first sound film, The Golf Specialist (1930)—a two-reeler that faithfully reproduces a sketch he had introduced in 1918 in the Follies and finally discarded it after his first sound feature film, Her Majesty, Love (1931), his only Warner Bros. production.

From 1932 Fields appeared in thirteen feature films for Paramount Pictures, beginning with Million Dollar Legs and was featured in a sequence in the anthology film If I Had a Million. In 1932 and 1933, Fields made four short subjects for comedy pioneer Mack Sennett, distributed through Paramount Pictures. These shorts, adapted with few alterations from Fields’ stage routines and written entirely by himself, were described by Simon Louvish as “the ‘essence’ of Fields”. The first of them, The Dentist, is unusual in that Fields portrays an entirely unsympathetic character: he cheats at golf, assaults his caddy, and treats his patients with unbridled callousness. William K. Everson says that the cruelty of this comedy made it “hardly less funny”, but that “Fields must have known that The Dentist presented a serious flaw for a comedy image that was intended to endure”, and showed a somewhat warmer persona in his subsequent Sennett shorts

The popular success of his next feature film, International House (1933), established him as a major star A shaky outtake from the film, allegedly the only moving image record of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, was later revealed to have been faked as a publicity stunt for the movie. His 1934 classic It’s a Gift included his stage sketch of trying to escape his nagging family by sleeping on the back porch and being bedeviled by noisy neighbors and salesmen.

He achieved a career ambition by playing the character Mr. Micawber, in MGM’s David Copperfield in 1935 and In 1936, Fields re-created his signature stage role in Poppy for Paramount Pictures. In 1938 Fields excelled once again, this time in Paramount’s sweeping musical variety anthology The Big Broadcast of 1938 while starring with Martha Raye, Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope. In an unusual twist, Fields plays the roles of two nearly identical brothers (T. Frothingill Bellows and S. B. Bellow) and collaborated with several noted international musicians including: Kirsten Flagstad (Norwegian opera soprano), Wilfred Pelletier (Canadian conductor of New York’s Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Tito Guizar (Mexican vocalist), Shep Fields (conducting his Rippling Rhythm Jazz Orchestra) and John Serry Sr. (Italian-American orchestral accordionist) The film received critical acclaim and earned an Oscar in 1939 for best music in an original song – Thanks for the Memory

Charlie Chaplin

English Comic actor and filmmaker Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, KBE sadly died 25 December 1977. He was born 16 April 1889 and rose to fame in the silent film era, he became a worldwide icon through his screen persona “the Tramp” and is considered one of the most important figures of the film industry. Chaplin’s had an impoverished childhood in London ; his father left and his mother struggled financially, he was sent to a workhouse twice before the age of nine. When he was 14, his mother was committed to a mental asylum. Chaplin began performing at an early age, touring music halls and later working as a stage actor and comedian. At 19 he was signed to the prestigious Fred Karno company, which took him to America. Chaplin was scouted for the film industry, and began appearing in 1914 for Keystone Studios. He soon developed the Tramp persona and formed a large fan base. Chaplin directed his films from an early stage, and continued to hone his craft as he moved to the Essanay, Mutual, and First National corporations. By 1918, he was one of the best known figures in the world.

THE KID. http://youtu.be/zry8iPrHtjA

In 1919, Chaplin co-founded the distribution company United Artists, which gave him complete control over his films. His first feature-length was The Kid (1921), followed by A Woman of Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), and The Circus (1928). He refused to move to sound films in the 1930s, instead producing City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936) without dialogue. Chaplin became increasingly political and his next film, The Great Dictator (1940), satirised Adolf Hitler. The 1940s were a decade marked with controversy for Chaplin, and his popularity declined rapidly. He was accused of communist sympathies, while his involvement in a paternity suit and marriages to much younger women caused scandal. An FBI investigation was opened, and Chaplin was forced to leave the United States and settle in Switzerland. He abandoned the Tramp in his later films, which include Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Limelight (1952), A King in New York (1957), and A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).

Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films. He was a perfectionist, and his financial independence enabled him to spend years on the development and production of a picture. His films are characterised by slapstick combined with pathos, typified in the Tramp’s struggles against adversity. Many contain social and political themes, as well as autobiographical elements. In 1972, as part of a renewed appreciation for his work, Chaplin received an Honorary Academy Award for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century”. He sadly passed away 25 December 1977 although he continues to be held in high regard, with The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator often ranked among industry lists of the greatest films of all time.

The Simpsons

The first full episode of the Simpsons “Simpsons roasting on an Open fire” debuted 17 December 1989. Animated Shorts of The Simpsons had previously aired on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. The Simpsons satirizes a dysfunctional middle class American lifestyle epitomized by the Simpson family who live in a fictional middle American Town of Springfield and it parodies American culture, society, television, and many aspects of the human condition. It was Created by Matt Groening and producer James L. Brooks for the Fox Broadcasting Company,  The Simpsons consist of Homer, the father, who works as a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, a position at odds with his careless, buffoonish personality. Homer’s wife Marge Simpson, a stereotypical American housewife and mother, and three children: Bart, a ten-year-old troublemaker; Lisa, a precocious eight-year-old activist; and Maggie, the baby of the family who rarely speaks, but communicates by sucking on a pacifier. Although the family is dysfunctional, they are often shown to care about one another.

The show also includes an array of quirky supporting characters: co-workers, teachers, family friends, extended relatives, townspeople and local celebrities. The creators originally intended many of these characters as one-time jokes or for fulfilling needed functions in the town. A number of them have gained expanded roles and subsequently starred in their own episodes. Despite the depiction of yearly milestones such as holidays or birthdays passing, the characters do not age between episodes (either physically or in stated age), and generally appear just as they did when the series began. The series uses a floating timeline in which episodes generally take place in the year the episode is produced even though the characters do not age. Flashbacks/forwards do occasionally depict the characters at other points in their lives, with the timeline of these depictions also generally floating relative to the year the episode is produced.

The Simpsons takes place in the fictional American town of Springfield in an unknown and impossible-to-determine U.S. state. The show is intentionally evasive in regard to Springfield’s location. Springfield’s geography, and that of its surroundings, contains coastlines, deserts, vast farmland, tall mountains, or whatever the story or joke requires.Groening has said that Springfield has much in common with Portland, Oregon, the city where he grew up. The name “Springfield” is a common one in America and appears in 22 states. Groening has said that he named it after Springfield, Oregon, and the fictitious Springfield which was the setting of the series Father Knows Best.An astronomer and fan of the show, Phil Plait, noticed that The Simpsons could be set in Australia, because the moon in Springfield faces the wrong way to be an American location. It is drawn facing the right, as it would in the Southern Hemisphere.

Since its debut on December 17, 1989, the show has broadcast 569 episodes, and the 26th season began on September 28, 2014. The Simpsons is the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated program, and in 2009 it surpassed Gunsmoke as the longest-running American scripted primetime television series. The Simpsons Movie, a feature-length film, was released on July 27, 2007. The Simpsons has received widespread critical acclaim. Time magazine named it the 20th century’s best television series, and The A.V. Club named it “television’s crowning achievement regardless of format”. On January 14, 2000, the Simpson family was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 31 Primetime Emmy Awards, 30 Annie Awards, and a Peabody Award. Homer’s exclamatory catchphrase “D’oh!” Was inspired by James Finlayson (Laurel and Hardy) and has been adopted into the English language, while The Simpsons has influenced and parodied many television sitcoms, films, events and musicians.