Hal Roach Studios

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hal_roach_studio Culver City

If zoning had not precluded expansion of producer Hal Roach's facilities in downtown Los Angeles, The Hal Roach Studios might never have relocated to Culver City. To find new studio space, Hal Roach called his friend Harry Culver and purchased his initial 10 acres at $1,000 an acre. From 1919 to 1963, his "Laugh Factory to the World" was a proud fixture in town. That studio produced 50 comedies a year plus features. In a 1990 interview, 98 year old Hal Roach told me that Harold Lloyd was "the best comedian, second only to Chaplin," and the reason he could finance his new studio. He also offered fond remembrances of making Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy comedies. In addition to shooting on the studio lot, Roach filmed "on location" in Culver City. Putting Pants on Philip was the first teaming of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. When you see it again, note the Culver Hotel and Main Street in the background. You will recognize the City Hall in their 1932 County Hospital. Laurel and Hardy's The Music Box won Roach his first Oscar in 1932, and the Our Gang comedy, Bored of Education, won another in 1936. Roach moved into television with ease, with series like Topper, Amos and Andy, The Life of Riley, Trouble with Father, and My Little Margie. The Hal Roach Studios also produced the screen version of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Hal Roach received an honorary Oscar in 1983 " in recognition of his unparalleled record of distinguished contributions to the motion picture art form." 

During the war, the Roach Studio was known as "Fort Roach," where training films were made by Ronald Reagan, Alan Ladd and a multitude of other industry folk. Roach sold the studio in 1955 to his son. Hal Roach Jr. eventually declared bankruptcy, and in 1963 the property was sold to become a part of the Landmark Industrial Tract. The Sons of the Desert placed a marker in the parkette at National and Washington Boulevards to commemorate this bastion of family entertainment.