August 7 is the 50th anniversary of Oliver Hardy's death. Ed Wynn once said that a comedian isn't a man who opens a funny door, he's a man who opens a door funny. Oliver Hardy could open a door, or do anything else, funny. Like Jack Benny, he was more of a comic actor than a comedian. His ability was not creating gags or directing pictures, but taking a situation and finding where the laughs were.
He had a very expressive face, one that communicated his thoughts without needing words. His hands were things of beauty, always swooping in graceful arcs, his fingers adding additional filigrees to his gestures.
As animators, we value funny movement, so naturally, we have reasons to value Oliver Hardy.
Mark Evanier contributes his thoughts on the anniversary of Hardy's death.
Update: Børge Ring wrote me the following:
In 1948 I was a young jazz guitarist freelancing on Copenhagen Radio. During a guest program I accompanied
Laurel and Hardy, Oliver Hardy stood before my music stand. He was so big that if I wanted to have a look at the studio audience I had to lean sideways. The two master comedians sang the old cowboy song "Home on the Range" (in C-major).
They were touring Europe and during their stay in Paris Stan Laurel received a letter from the (then) unknown pantomime artist Marcel Marceau who wrote: "I have learned everything from you and Chaplin. We have a tiny theatre in the suburb. Won't you come on friday afternoon at 4 and have a look?" Stan went and saw.
Next day he clapped a press conference together at Hotel Hilton where he presented Marceau to the journalists telling them what he thought about Marcel's pantomime art. This started Marceau on his successful career.