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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Saturday, April 3

Marvin Hatley goes cuckoo

Synopsis

The composer of this tune, the "Dance of the Cuckoos,” was born on this date in 1905.

Thomas Marvin Hatley worked for the Hal Roach film studio that produced the famous Laurel and Hardy comedies. Hatley wrote memorable music for those films. His “Cuckoo” theme was originally used as a time cue for a radio station located on the Hal Roach studio lot, but when Stan Laurel heard it, he knew it would be perfect as the Laurel and Hardy signature theme.

Between 1929 and 1940, Hatley wrote over 800 compositions for the studio. His scores for two Laurel and Hardy films were nominated for Academy Awards. But Hal Roach didn’t seem to appreciate Hatley’s music. In 1939, Hatley was fired by Roach, but at the insistence of Stan Laurel, Hatley returned to score one final Laurel and Hardy film.

Hatley went on to become a Los Angeles-area cocktail lounge pianist, and quipped that he earned more in that career than he did working for Hal Roach.

In his senior years, Hatley would attend meetings of Laurel and Hardy fan clubs in California, happily playing the piano to accompany old silent film era Hal Roach comedies.

Music Played in Today's Program

Marviin Hatley (1905 - 1986) "Dance of the Cuckoos", and "Stagecoach Conservation," from "Way Out West" Van Phillips and His Orchestra (Dance of the Cuckoos) & Beau Hunks Orchestra ("Stagecoach Conservation," from "Way Out West") 1932 British 78-rpm recording (Dance of the Cuckoos) & Movies Select Audio CD 99003 (Beau Hunks Orchestra)

Additional Information

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