I was perusing Tumblr the other night (which I do pretty much every night) and I came across a photo on my dashboard of two very familiar-looking young ladies.
When they appeared on my dash, though, I recognized them instantly as Anita Garvin and Marion Byron.
Hal Roach attempted several times to create all-female double acts to duplicate the success that Laurel and Hardy were having, and they actually worked pretty well but they’re mostly lost to history today. Garvin (best known as Stan’s wife in Blotto) and Byron (Buster Keaton’s love interest in Steamboat Bill, Jr.) were his first attempt, and although they only made three shorts together they were a hit, leading Hal Roach to team up Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts later on.
The photo here of the two girls is reportedly from 1928, which is around the time Hal Roach decided to team them up – and indeed, I was able to find a screencap from the most famous of their shorts together, A Pair of Tights (released 1929), in which they’re wearing these outfits:
So there you are, Anita Garvin and Marion Byron made the big time on Tumblr without being recognized. I think it’s time we changed that and gave them the credit they deserve for being as funny as they were!
Here’s a clip from A Pair of Tights – ignore the irritating voiceover from the documentary that this clip was included in and enjoy Marion and her ice cream.
(You can pick up the DVD set including two of their shorts here – from Germany. Thanks again, Germany, you’re killing it!)