Harry Eugene Roach Sr, professionally know as Hal Roach, was an American film and television producer, director, and actor who was active from the 1910s to the 1990s. He is remembered today for producing a number of successes including the Laurel and Hardy franchise, the film's of entertainer Charley Chase and Our Gang film comedy series.
Unable to expand his studios in Downtown Los Angeles because of zoning, Roach purchased what became the Hal Roach Studios from Harry Culver in Culver City, California. During the 1920s and 1930s, he employed Lloyd (his top money-maker until his departure in 1923), Will Rogers, Max Davidson, the Our Gang children, Charley Chase, Harry Langdon, Thelma Todd, ZaSu Pitts, Lupe Velez, Patsy Kelly and, most famously, Laurel and Hardy. During the 1920s, Roach's biggest rival was producer Mack Sennett. In 1925, Roach hired away Sennett's supervising director, F. Richard Jones.
In 1955, Roach sold his interests in the production company to his son, Hal Roach Jr., and retired from active production. The younger Roach lacked much of his father's business acumen and soon lost the studio to creditors. It was finally shut down in 1961.
For two more decades, Roach Sr. occasionally worked as a consultant on projects related to his past work. Extremely vigorous into an advanced age, Roach contemplated a comedy comeback at 96.
Hal Roach died in his home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, from pneumonia, on November 2, 1992, just two months before his 101st birthday.