Born 18 January 1892 – Oliver Hardy, an American comic actor who was, along with Stan Laurel, a member of the famous Laurel and Hardy team. Ollie and Stan were among the few movie stars to make a successful transition from the silent to the sound era, and I have three recommendations for my readers. First, watch everything Laurel and Hardy ever made; at their best, they are the greatest comedy team in film history. Second, from their silent film archive watch “Two Tars” and “Big Business.” In these two short features you will find the classic pattern that informs most of the work of Laurel and Hardy: A seemingly innocuous incident soon results in increasing conflict, until events descend into complete anarchy. Finally, from the sound era archive watch “The Music Box,” a brilliant comedic gem, which is, regrettably, the only Laurel and Hardy feature that won an Academy Award.
Died 18 January 1952 – Jerome “Curly” Howard, American comic genius and member of The Three Stooges. I spent many hours of my misspent youth in coffee shops, arguing over the respective comedic talents of Curly and Shemp with humor-challenged fools who championed the cause of the latter. Of course, there is no argument: Shemp is amusingly competent, but Curly is the peerless King of Slapstick.