Actress Rosina Lawrence, who co-starred with Laurel and Hardy in the 1937 comedy “Way Out West” and performed in numerous other Hal Roach classics, died June 23 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York after a lengthy bout with cancer. She was 84.
Lawrence’s career was highlighted by her work for Hal Roach Studios, starring alongside the Little Rascals as well as Laurel and Hardy. She also starred in the 1937 Oscar-winning Little Rascal short, “Bored of Education.”
Lawrence, whose real name was Rosina Marchiso-McCabe, was born in Westboro, Ontario. Her family moved to Hollywood during the 1920s where her father worked as a set builder. His presence allowed her to enter the studios but it took an accident to start her career as an entertainer.
At age 10, after a bruised knee led to dance classes as therapy, Lawrence was first discovered and given a role in the Universal film “Lady of Quality.”
During the next 10 years she performed as a vaudeville singer, dancer and actress in both talkies and silent films.
Fox Studios hired her to make several films alongside such stars as Will Rogers, Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow. Nevertheless, she did not begin attracting serious studio interest until after her uncredited role in the musical “The Great Ziegfeld” in 1936.
This performance helped her to sign a fruitful long-term contract with Hal Roach Studios later that year. She was immediately cast in a series of “Our Gang” shorts as the new teacher, Miss Lawrence.
She first teamed up with Laurel & Hardy in what is reportedly the comedy duo’s personal favorite, “Way Out West.” She also starred alongside them in the celebrity-studded “Pick a Star.”
She retired from the business in 1939 after appearing in the Italian film “In the Country Fell a Star.”
She is survived by her second husband, John C. McCabe, the Laurel & Hardy biographer and founding father of the Laurel & Hardy Fan Club “The Sons of the Desert”; her two daughters, her son and five grandchildren.