Oliver Norvell Hardy or as he was first known: Norvell Hardy was born in Harlem, Georgia in 1892 the youngest of six children.
His father, Oliver Hardy Senior was a line foreman for the Georgia Southern Railroad before marrying Mary Emily Norvell, the daughter of Thomas Benjamin Norvell and Mary Freeman Norvell, members of a prominent Augusta Georgia family, descended from the Norvells of Williamsburg.
Emily Norvell Hardy and her husband, Oliver, had 5 children between them from previous marriages.
Norvell was only 11 months old when his father died in 1892 of unstated causes, and his mother was let go from her management job. Emily immediately took up another management position at another hotel, but after the death of one of her other sons, Sam, she moved again. It was a vagabond existence for the young Norvell Hardy as his mother moved from hotel to hotel. But this is where young Norvell would learn to entertain the guests.
Later he would try military school, study at Atlanta Conservatory of Music for a short time, and then work in local Georgia theaters, where as a teenager the impact of the movies began to be felt in his life.
In 1913 he moved to Jacksonville and found work in vaudeville. There he met and married his first wife, Madelyn. It was also in Jacksonville, he watched films being made by the Lubin Film Company. One day, the company needed the services of a large individual, for a part in the next comedy film.
Norvell took the part and he was billed as O.N.[Oliver Norvell] Hardy. He billed himself this way as a tribute to his later father.
To the family he had been known as Norvell Hardy.
To the rest of the world he became Oliver Hardy and as they say, the rest is history.