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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

G'Bye Dere. Part Three.

Laurel and Hardy were great artists, much in the way that Chaplin and Keaton were great artists.
The only difference was that there were two of them.
We must be grateful that they have been preserved at all on film.
It hasn't been made easy, considering that they did their most classic work for Hal Roach, who used the cheapest film stock available, and had them share stock music cues with the Our Gang comedies.
Laurel and Hardy made the easiest transition from silents to talkies.
They were equally adept at both.
Chaplin and Keaton were both really hamstringed by talkies.
But pretty much everybody remembers Chaplin and Keaton.
The saddest thing about Laurel and Hardy is that nobody knows who they are anymore.
I was attempting to cast a movie in which the two young male leads had a running bit where they did an impression of Laurel and Hardy.
I couldn't find any young actors in their twenties who had any idea who  Laurel and Hardy were.
I had to resort to showing them clips of them on YouTube.
The reactions ranged from "Oh, those guys!" to blank stares.
Even after they watched the YouTube clips, they remained unfamiliar.
Needless to say, this was distressing.

Abbott and Costello were not great artists.
They were two guys who were rather adept at doing stock burlesque routines.
They could never have made it in silent pictures.
They were all about verbal spins.
Any two modestly talented comics could have just as easily been Abbott and Costello.
It just turned out to be them.
Laurel and Hardy worked at a slow and deliberate pace.
Abbott and Costello, sometimes doing a variation of the same material, worked at a very rapid pace.
Both were funny.
Only one was art.
I didn't like Abbott and Costello's movies.
They slowed down their pace for their movies.
The only thing that made some of their movies bearable was that they contained the Andrews Sisters.
But when Abbott and Costello turned to TV, the pace was usually first rate, and showed them off very well.
Unlike Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello are remembered very well by all generations.
And it all  boils down to one piece of material they did.
That's right.
"Who's on First?"
One of the most idiotic premises for a routine ever conceived.
You've got to give them Brownie Points for pulling it off as well as they did.
When my daughter was about six, I'm talking thirty years ago, they ran Abbott and Costello movies on Sunday morning on one of the local stations.
One Sunday, after watching them, she approached me and said ""Daddy, I just saw the funniest thing I've ever seen.  You know Abbott and Costello?  They do this thing called "Who's on First?"
I said "Really?  I'll have to catch up with it at some point."
Every Sunday morning, somewhere, "Abbott and Costello movies are still being run, and every Sunday morning, new six year olds are discovering "Who's On First?"
So Abbott and Costello have immortality, and Laurel and Hardy have been consigned to oblivion.

Who was it who said that life was fair?


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:



  1. Mark. I remember you from Grand Central Apartments. My dad drove for your dad Abe and my mother was friends with your mother Belle. I was really good friends with your sister Leslie and remember all the good times we had growing up. I don't know if you remember my family but my mom and dad are Joe and Dotty, and my sister is Debbie and my name is Dorothy.

  2. I'm in my forties and spent many a Saturday morning watching bowdlerized versions of Laurel and Hardy's silent shorts every Saturday afternoon on my local station here in Ottawa, Canada. Heck, there was even an animated cartoon and comic book series based on L&H, that's how popular they still were right up until the eighties. By then, I had read Walter Kerr's seminal "The Silent Clowns" and quickly became a silent movie buff.

    I have four young children aged 5 to 13 who are very well acquainted with L&H, Keaton, Chaplin and Lloyd. Keaton gets the most requests -- "The Navigator", "The General", "Steamboat Bill Jr." and several shorts -- but nothing busts them up like "Big Business"!

    Read "The Silent Clowns" to find out why L&H were the only major silent comedians to successfully make the transition from silence to sound. Brilliant work, sharp in its analysis, in love with its subjects, and so engagingly well written. I've read it from cover to cover at least a dozen times in the past 30 years.

  3. Walter Kerr was a great writer and critic. I read "The Silent Clowns" many years ago.
    It is everything you say.

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."