Oliver Hardy was an American actor who helped revolutionize comedy on film during the silent era and beyond, alongside his beloved comedic partner, Stan Laurel. Together, they made up perhaps the most iconic comedy team in history: Laurel and Hardy. Born Norvell Hardy in Harlem, Georgia, to homemaker Emily Norvell Hardy and Confederate officer turned businessman Oliver Hardy. He was the youngest of five children, and his father passed away shortly before Norvell's first birthday. To make ends meet, his mother rented out the family home in Harlem to tenant farmers. As a boy, Norvell had a rough and tumble life. One of his older brothers, Sam Hardy, drowned in the Oconee River, despite Norvell's efforts to resuscitate him. He also developed a streak of delinquency, running away from school and partaking in petty crimes, and had to be sent to Georgia Military College in Milledgeville. However, his mother soon recognized that young Norvell had a talent for singing, so she sent him off to Atlanta to study music and voice with renowned vocal coach Adolf Dahm-Petersen. After completing his lessons, and earning his first professional gig, singing at the Alcazar Theater for $3.50 a week, Hardy decided to return to Milledgeville. Around this time, Hardy also began using his father's first name, Oliver, as his own name in tribute. Upon returning to Milledgeville in 1910, Hardy took a job as the projectionist, ticket taker, janitor, and manager of the town's first movie theater. He obsessively watched every film that came through the theater, and was soon convinced that he could do a better job than the actors he saw on screen every day. On the suggestion of a friend, Hardy moved to Jacksonville, Florida, which at the time had a burgeoning film industry. It was 1913, Hardy worked as a cabaret and vaudeville singer at night, while working in a factory during the day. In November of that year, he married his first wife, pianist Madelyn Saloshin. In 1914, Hardy made his film debut in "Outwitting Dad" (1914) for the Lubin studio. At first the movies didn't quite know what to do with Hardy: due to his 6'1", 300 pound frame, he was often cast in villainous roles. By 1915, Hardy had done 50 one-reeler films with Lubin studio, so he moved to New York, where he made films for Pathé, Casino, and Edison studios. He briefly worked for the Vim Comedy Company after returning to Jacksonville, but the studio folded after Hardy discovered the owners were stealing from the payroll. In 1917, Hardy moved to Los Angeles, where he continued to play "heavies," mainly for Vitagraph, whom he worked with between 1918 and 1923, but also began booking comedic parts that better suited his talents. He and Saloshin separated in 1919, and their divorce was finalized on November 17, 1921. One week later, Hardy married actress Myrtle Reeves, which proved to be a bad pairing from the start, largely due to Reeves's alcoholism. 1921 would also prove to be a banner year for Hardy because of his appearance in the film "The Lucky Dog" (1921), which was the first time he appeared on screen alongside Stan Laurel. The pair would not cross paths again until Hardy began working with Hal Roach Studios, appearing the the "Our Gang" films, as well as the silent version of "Wizard of Oz" (1925). He next worked with Laurel, who was by now focusing on writing and directing, by appearing in the film "Yes, Yes, Nanette!" (1925). Hardy was next scheduled to star in "Get 'Em Young" (1926), but when he was burned in an onset accident, Hal Roach decided to bring in Stan Laurel to replace him. This marked Laurel's return to acting, and later that year, the pair appeared in "45 Minutes From Hollywood" (1926), though they didn't share any scenes. By 1927, Roach Studios supervising director Leo McCarey realized that the pair had great comedic rapport, what with Laurel's extreme deadpan playing perfectly against Hardy's flustered anger, and began casting them to appear together in a number of shorts, including "Slipping Wives" (1927), "Duck Soup" (1927), and "With Love and Hisses" (1927). Starting with "Putting the Pants on Phillip" (1927), the duo was billed as Laurel and Hardy, and before long set off on a highly prolific run of short films, including "The Battle of the Century" (1927), "Should Married Men Go Home?" (1928), "Two Tars" (1928), "Unaccustomed As We Are" (1929)(their first talkie), "Berth Marks" (1929), "Blotto" (1930), "Brats" (1930), "Another Fine Mess" (1930), and "Be Big!" (1931), amongst many others. Laurel and Hardy made their feature debut in "The Hollywood Revue of 1929" (1929), and starred in their first full-length movie, "Pardon Us" (1931), two years later. They won their first and only Academy Award for the short film "The Music Box" (1932), the next year. Their winning streak was interrupted, however, when Laurel and Hal Roach got into a nasty contractual dispute, effectively breaking up his and Hardy's partnership for a time. Also on the rocks was Hardy's second marriage; he and Myrtle Reeves divorced in 1937. While waiting for Laurel's dispute with Hal Roach to be smoothed over, Hardy worked on the film "Zenobia" (1939). Once new contracts were agreed upon, Roach loaned the duo out to General Service Studios to make their comeback picture, "The Flying Deuces" (1939). While on set, Hardy fell in love with a script girl, Virginia Lucille Jones, and they married the following year. Luckily for Hardy, the third time proved to be a charm. That same year, he and Laurel made their two final films for Hal Roach, "A Chump at Oxford" (1940), and "Saps at Sea" (1940). After leaving Roach Studios, the duo made films with 20th Century Fox and MGM, but found less creative control than they had enjoyed in the past, and decided to part ways with the studios following the release of "The Bullfighters" (1945). Their next major project was a six-week tour of the United Kingdom in 1947. Neither men were sure how they would be received, but they were mobbed wherever they went, played to sold out theaters every night, and even performed for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Due to the rapturous response, the tour was extended to include stops in Scandinavia, Belgium, and France. The duo would embark on similar tours over the next few years, until 1954, but unfortunately they were marred by both men's declining health. Meanwhile, Hardy continued to occasionally act without Laurel, in the John Wayne western "The Fighting Kentuckian" (1949), and the Frank Capra/Bing Crosby production "Riding High" (1950). The final Laurel and Hardy film, "Atoll K" (1951), began production in 1950, and the process was arduous. The film was funded by a shady crew of European interest men, the cast and crew all came from different countries and could not speak to one another due to the language barrier, Laurel was forced to rewrite the entire script, and both men were ill during most of the production. No surprise, then, that "Atoll K" was an ignominious ending to the pair's career in film. Due to Hardy's appearance on the popular series "This Is Your Life" (NBC, 1952-1961) in December of 1954, he and Laurel decided to give television a try, working with Hal Roach Jr. to develop a TV show based on the Mother Goose fables, set to begin airing in the fall of 1955. However, the series was put on hold indefinitely when Laurel suffered a stroke, and while he was recovering, Hardy was felled by a heart attack and a stroke. Hardy began losing weight at a rapid pace, dropping 150 pounds in a few months, which totally altered his appearance. Hardy suffered another stroke on September 14, 1956, which left him bedridden and unable to speak for nearly a year. Just as he was beginning to walk and talk again, thanks to the care of his beloved wife Lucille, Hardy suffered two major strokes in August of 1957. This time, he fell into a coma, and never work up. Oliver Hardy died of cerebral thrombosis on August 7, 1957. He was 65 years old.