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Babe's wives
#1
It's only fair...........

By contrast to his more slender movie companion, Babe Hardy's marital life is at least fairly simple.
As a schoolboy, despite his bulk, Hardy had an attraction for the opposite sex and he had a stream of girlfriends. Perhaps the first serious one was Buena-Vista Barrett, whose father owned a cotton warehouse, where they spent a lot of their private time. Another was Mary Pottle, the daughter of a local circuit judge, and making it double the fun, he was also close to sisters Edyth and Althea Miller. Some 45 years later, Althea appeared on This Is Your Life, testifying to the schooldays friendship. He also had a longing for Mary Horne, daughter of the Mayor, and is reported to have serenaded beneath her window to show his affection. How it went down with the neighbours is not reported.

Madelyn Saloshin
After his years as projectionist and janitor at the Palace Theater in Milledgeville, Hardy moved to Atlanta for a while and met Madelyn Saloshin, a pianist at the Montgomery Hotel. Hardy had a job there as manager of the billiards room, and it didn't take long for the two music lovers to find harmony. Madelyn was Jewish and Hardy had been raised as a strict Methodist, so neither families could tolerate the marriage, and they eloped to Macon and married there on September 19th 1913. They migrated to Florida, where Hardy found work at the Lubin movie studios. The marriage was a disaster from the start, and effectively lasted only 2 years. Hardy did everything he could to save the situation, even finding roles for Madelyn in movies like One Too Many in 1916, but there was no hope and they separated soon after that. The divorce was eventually finalised in 1920.

Myrtle Reeves.
Now the trouble really starts.
Babe's second wife Myrtle seems to have appeared on the scene almost from nowhere, although there is reference in one of the John McCabe books about Myrtle and Babe having gone to school together in Atlanta. Hardy never went to school in Atlanta. The romance was swift and they married on Thanksgiving Day (November) 1921. For a few years the marriage was calm and uneventful. She encouraged Babe's love of the golf course, realising how much business and favour was available to maintain his substantial income - and to get him out of the house for long periods. This gave her time to buy, consume and sleep off quantities of the alcohol that was beginning to take over her will, but it was not long before the inevitable winner took its prize. Babe's home life became a cocktail of dealing with a drunken wife at home, spending time out looking for her - one report says she went missing for 6 weeks - and checking Myrtle into the Rosemead Sanatorium on various occasions. His instinct was to support, sympathise and deal with Myrtle's problem, and it worked sometimes. In 1932 it was enough to take Myrtle on a holiday to Britain, so that Babe could sample the great Scottish golf courses.
Sometimes it did not work, as in 1929, when she filed a divorce suit against her husband for "mental cruelty" which was basically complaining about her drinking; it never amounted to anything. During the UK trip, a British journalist managed to hold an interview with Myrtle, seemingly unaware of the problems. One of the more memorable quotes from Myrtle in the interview is her view of Babe: "My husband is just a big, shy boy."
Six weeks later, Babe came home to find Myrtle comatose amidst a pile of empty bottles and decided on a separation. He allowed Myrtle to stay in their Beverly Hills mansion whilst he himself checked into a hotel. There was a reconciliation later, when Myrtle returned to Rosemead, and again in 1935. The end came in 1937 when an amicable divorce settlement was reached. In a written message to Myrtle, Babe concluded: "this move is the best for both."

Lucille Jones
It's well-known that scripts were not too important for Laurel and Hardy movies at Roach Studios. However, it's as well that each player is working on the same movie, ideally on the same scene and preferably in the right order and continuity. For this purpose there was a Script Girl and at Roach for a long time that was Ellen Corby. But it was clear that her talents were in other directions and she became a household name as Grandma Walton in the legendary TV drama series. She was replaced by Lucille Jones, a young secretary from Phoenix Arizona. Lucille was slated as the replacement for Ellen Corby by Boris Morros, who was making The Flying Deuces at the time. Although she admired and enjoyed Laurel and Hardy from afar, she was not daunted by the close proximity and on her very first day had to pull Babe up on a matter of continuity. For her, it was a small job well done, but for Babe Hardy it was life-changing; he was stricken by Cupid's arrow. He was not quite twice Lucille's age, but not far off. The actor who normally left the business of scripts and organisation to everyone else - especially to Stan Laurel - was now sitting in on all the script conferences, production meetings, planning sessions, to the astonishment of all concerned...except when it was noticed that his focus of such gatherings was Lucille. The moment of fate came when Lucille tripped over a roll of carpet, enabling Babe to assist, comfort and pamper her with over-lavish recompense. Lucille went home, and Babe sent processions of delivery-men with boxes of chocolates, massive bunches of flowers and all sorts of gifts and messages.
Once back at work, she was working on the script for Saps At Sea when Babe Hardy proposed to her across the desk. A formal engagement followed and they became man and wife on March 7th 1940. Stan Laurel was Best Man. Hardy was 48, Lucille was 26.
In the depths of the tough years with Myrtle, Hardy had drifted into a ruinous gambling habit. At the Lakeside Country Club, where he played golf, there were also tables for cards and other cash games, and Hardy thought  nothing of losing over $100 a day on his visits. He had also become an investor in the Del Mar horse-racing track - and an owner of horses. But after the wedding, Babe suddenly became a home-lover. Lucille's very existence changed Hardy and saved him from himself. He had always enjoyed cooking, and did his share of that, and in the BBC "Cuckoo" documentary, Lucille reveals that Babe made a lot of their home furniture with his own hands, which many find surprising, as there is nothing in his history that shows any mastery of those skills.
Babe and Lucille lived in almost sublime happiness until his devastating stroke in 1956, but Lucille was there and gave the most devoted attention and care until he slipped away on August 7th 1957.

Chronology
1913 - Marriage, Madelyn Saloshin
1920 - Divorce
1921 - Marriage, Myrtle Reeves
1937 - Divorce
1940 - Marriage, Lucille Jones

Pointers

3 marriages
2 divorces.

(We hope to add images very soon).


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