If you look up the makers of epic movie productions throughout history, you won’t find Hal Roach Studios on the list. However, they are at the top of most lists of shorter light-hearted comedy films during the first half of the 1900s. The studio was affectionately known as the laugh Factory.
The Hal Roach Studios adopted its name in 1920 after having briefly been the Rolin Film Company during the previous six years. Hal E. Roach and some partners tended toward making “one-reelers” that aimed at laughter over drama. Roach made the most of his niche, and the studio outlasted many competitors until the late 1950s. Hal also was a pioneer for racial equality in hiring young black actors on a par with their white counterparts in the Our Gang series.
Later, Hal, Jr. worked at the studio, but was unsuccessful in keeping the lot profitable. It closed in 1961. Hal, Jr. died a decade later.
Longevity, Versatility, and Creativity
Not so for Hal, Sr. He lived past age 100 and finally died in 1992. Earlier, he oversaw the production of lasting fan favorites, such as the Our Gang and Laurel & Hardy pictures. You can still see these on TV at odd hours or on weekends. He also saw the making of Harold Lloyd shorts and the Topper series.
By the 1950s, Roach made a successful leap to television. He produced Amos ‘n Andy, the Abbott & Costello Show, and The Life of Riley. Even after the closing of his studio lot and the death of his son, Roach was able to take on new ventures thanks to the continuing revenue and popularity of Laurel and Hardy and Our Gang (renamed The Little Rascals). He even formed a business colorizing his films and those of some other producers.
So, while his original studio went bankrupt in 1961, Hal E. Roach, Sr. carried on for over 30 more years. He received an honorary Oscar, and he appeared with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show after turning 100.
- Year Started: 1920
- Year Ended: 1961
- Origin Of Name: Name of Founder / Descriptive
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: Halcyon Studios
- Owner Original: Hal Roach
- Owner While In Use: Hal Roach and Partners
- Owner Successor: Halcyon Studios
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Nickelodeon
- Naics Code: 512110
- Location Headquarters: Culver City, California USA