Baby Doll (1916)

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Many silent comedies were based on the tale of the uncle who wants to give his nephew an inheritance -- provided the young man is married and settled down. For one reason or another, however, the nephew is spouse-less and must dig up a temporary "wife" for the uncle. This idea was never done better than in Laurel and Hardy's 1929 two-reeler That's My Wife, in which Stan Laurel dresses up as Oliver Hardy's better half. But 13 years earlier, Hardy played the "wife" in a Plump and Runt comedy for Jacksonville, FL, studio Vim. Plump (Hardy) and Runt (Billy Ruge) are having financial problems, and Runt's uncle will only give him money if he is married. So Plump goes to a costume shop and outfits himself in a dress. On the way back to Runt's, Plump runs into the uncle, who flirts outrageously with him. Plump humors him for a while and then dumps him in the river when he needs to get back to Runt. Plump is relating his adventure when the uncle walks in. The uncle recognizes Plump and is about to refuse them the money when his wife walks in. To keep his flirtation a secret, the uncle is forced to give Runt the money.