On August the 27th 1887 in Larbert, Stirlingshire, Scotland, James Henderson Finlayson was born.
James “Jimmy” Finlayson arrived in America as part of a repertory company at the age of 24, having been an apprentice panel beater. In his early career he won the part of Rab Biggar in Bunty Pulls the Strings, a poplualr Broadway show, however he pulled out of the full theatrical tour in 1916 to attempt to make it in Hollywood.
Having worked at other comedy studios, including working for the illustrious Mack Sennett as one of the original Keystone Kops, Finlayson began working for Hal Roach and is most fondly remembered as the moustachioed foil in the Laurel and Hardy movies.
Initially Hal had tried to turn Jimmy into a star in his own right, starring alongside Oliver Hardy in Yes Yes Nanette (watch it on YouTube here), which was co directed by Stan Laurel. Though the efforts to pitch Finlayson as a star never really took hold, he was considered well-known enough to receive equal billing for some films, with publicity material referring to them as the “famous comedy trio”. The potential of Laurel and Hardy as a double act soon saw them over take the Scotsman in popularity, however ,he appeared in a total of 33 Laurel and Hardy films, playing large roles in such classics as Big Business and Way out West.
Jimmy’s trademarks included his prop moustache (yes, it was fake!) and his catchphrase D’ohhh! which was later used by Dan Castellaneta for the voice of Homer Simpson (here he is talking about it if you’re interested).