Hal Roach (1892-1992)
By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion!
Roach was a member of the American Liberty Leagues 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 Hals 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 Germanys 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. Roachs 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.
Reagan Quotes: Was He Really that Dumb?
Interview with Peter Bondanella, "Rome the Eternal City,"
Radio National, Mar. 3, 2002.
This Month In L.A., Showbiz History (And Infamy).
Richard Falcon, "Leni Riefenstahl"
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.
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