This past week marks the 74th anniversary of John Wayne Western The Fighting Kentuckian.
In the classic movie, Duke played a Kentucky militiaman man returning home from the War of 1812, with Oliver Hardy as his comic sidekick Willie Paine.
This was one of just five times that Hardy worked without Stan Laurel, outside of their Laurel and Hardy partnership.
Having performed on stage with Duke in a touring charity production of John Ford’s What Price Glory?, Hardy was offered the role of Willie.
Initially, he turned down the role as he worried that fans would think that Laurel and Hardy had broken up.
Hardy mentioned Wayne’s offer to co-star with him in The Fighting Kentuckian to Laurel, who had been struggling with diabetes.
Yet his ill comedy partner told him that just because he couldn’t work didn’t mean that both of them couldn’t and so insisted he take the role.
Hardy did and shot the picture with Duke, who ended up being really impressed by him.
Wayne was really pleased with his on-screen chemistry with Hardy that he made him the offer of a lifetime.
Duke wanted the comedian to become his “permanent comic sidekick” in future movies.
However, by the time The Fighting Kentuckian hit cinemas, Laurel had recovered so Hardy turned down Wayne a second time and the pair resumed as Laurel and Hardy. Yet touring would take a toll on the health of both of them.