Hal Roach (1892-1992)

By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion!

Roach was a member of the American Liberty League’s executive committee.

After skinning mules and prospecting for gold in Alaska, Hal Roach did some stunt work in cowboy movies. When he inherited some money in 1914, he moved from New York to Hollywood and began his career directing and producing films, including the lovable “Our Gang” series (a.k.a. the “Little Rascals”). His most popular flicks starred Laurel and Hardy in the 1920s and 1930s. During WWII, Roach Studios were used to make U.S. Army training films. Decades later, in a 1985 interview, President Ronald Reagan was caught fibbing when he said: “I know all the bad things that happened in that war. I was in uniform four years myself.” During WWII, Reagan was not actually “in uniform,” he was an actor “in costume” at the Hal’s “Fort Roach” Studios.

In the 1930s, Vittorio Mussolini, son of the Italian dictator, visited Hollywood. He was met by many celebrities including Tyrone Power and Bette Davis. But Roach did more than just meet the young Mussolini, he started a business partnership with him. They called it RAM Films, short for “Roach and Mussolini.” Their joint company, which was supposed to make documentary news reels promoting Italy, eventually flopped.

In 1938, Leni Riefenstahl – Germany’s top film artist – came to Hollywood. She arrived right after the infamous Kristallnacht, when Nazi thugs murdered Jews all over Germany. Her “Triumph of Will” (1934), promoting Hitler and Nazism, is considered one of the greatest propaganda films ever made. She was an intimate friend of Hitler, who had admired her since her debut film, “The Holy Mountain” (1926). When she arrived in Hollywood to show off “Olympia,” her film about the 1936 Berlin games, she was dogged by protesters. Hollywood notables largely snubbed her. Roach’s partner, Vittorio Mussolini, complained about this to his dad, the dictator, saying: “There are more Jews in Hollywood than in Tel-Aviv!” Only two studio heads met with Reifenstahl: Hal Roach and Walt Disney. Walt gave her a personal tour of his studios.

When Roach retired in 1955, his son Hal Jr., took over and the studio was bankrupt in four years. Hal Sr., who lived to be 100, received an honourary Oscar for comedy in 1984, while Ronald Reagan was acting as president.


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Source: Press for Conversion! magazine, Issue # 53, "Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism," March 2004. Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade.

Order a Copy: Order a hard copy of this 54-page issue of Press for Conversion! on the fascist plot to overthrow President F.D.Roosevelt and the corporate leaders who planned and financed this failed coup.