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Happy Moore Promotes the American Austin in Los Angeles

Updated – This set of press photos was taken for the Austin Los Angeles Co. Ltd. with “Happy” Moore, a 500-pound man posing with the little American Austin car. The location was next to the Warner Brothers Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. This may have been a promotion involving Warner Brothers, and the Austin distributor – it was a common arrangement at the time as a way to sell cars.

Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky of the Hayes Body Works, in Grand Rapids, MI, designed the coachwork for the cars, and the bodies were produced by Hayes. The chassis has a short 75-inch w.b. and is powered by 4-cylinder 45.6 c.i. engine with a 2.2 by 3 inches bore and stroke. Top speed was 47 miles per hour.

A brief search was not able to turn up anything about “Happy” Moore. You can learn the complete American Austin Bantam Story in a four-part series by Robert D. Cunningham here on The Old Motor. 

The images are courtesy of USC Libraries.

Updates – Thanks to Robert D. Cunningham (below) we now know more about “Happy” Moore. Thanks to David Berry we have included a humous and colorized scene of Laurel & Hardy in “Our Wife” (1931) at the bottom of the post. It includes the trio cramming themselves into an American Austin Sedan.

American Austin Bantam

Part of Robert D. Cunningham’s comment covering Moore: “It’s doubtful that “Happy” Moore purchased one of the Austins, since he could barely squeeze in. His 500-pound weight would have topped the car’s quarter-ton capacity. Moore was an aspiring comic whose star never rose as high as Jolson’s or Keaton’s.”

“When the U.S. entered World War II, his draft card was marked “4F” and he was declared unfit for active service. Undeterred, he teamed up with 36-inch-tall “Stormy” Bergh and other “unfit” entertainers to entertain Allied troupes in Camp Show’s Middle East Circuit. Their traveling production of Melody in 4F helped put smiles on the faces of exhausted servicemen at the far corners of the globe.”

Happy Moore

Laurel & Hardy in a colorized version of “Our Wife” (1931).

10 responses to “Happy Moore Promotes the American Austin in Los Angeles

  1. Austin Los Angeles Co. Ltd. was located at 1702 South Figueora in Los Angeles, California. The firm was established by A.L. Gore. Calvin C. Elb was general manager. When doors to Gore’s sales and service establishment were thrown open in June, 1930, throngs of curious Californians rushed in to see five new American Austin coupes and one unbodied chassis. That evening, the dealership was brightly illuminated with colored flood lights and search lights, as was common practice for Hollywood opening ceremonies. Gore’s position in the theatrical world guaranteed many movie stars among the visitors at the premiere including singer and motion picture star Al Jolson. Jolson had been among the first to buy Ford’s new Model A when it debuted late in 1927 and he had placed his order for an American Austin nearly a year before the public introduction. Jolson took delivery of the very first Austin sold to the public. However, he was not the only star to stop by. Buster Keaton bought several Austin coupes and, in 1931, some roadsters. Vaudeville and radio artist Jack Brooks also chose a roadster. It’s doubtful that “Happy” Moore purchased one of the Austins, since he could barely squeeze in. His 500-pound weight would have topped the car’s quarter-ton capacity. Moore was an aspiring comic whose star never rose as high as Jolson’s or Keaton’s. When the U.S. entered World War II, his draft card was marked “4F” and he was declared unfit for active service. Undeterred, he teamed up with 36-inch-tall “Stormy” Bergh and other “unfit” entertainers to entertain Allied troupes in Camp Show’s Middle East Circuit. Their traveling production of Melody in 4F helped put smiles on the faces of exhausted servicemen at the far corners of the globe.

  2. Notice he is sitting in the passenger seat, it looks like he is behind the wheel but close observation will show he couldn’t get in the drivers side. Neat article!

  3. ONE of the FIRST Lymericks that my Mom taught me — had the beginning line of: “There once was a fellow from Boston” NO DOUBT, EACH new Lymerick Book had THIS FAMOUS lymerick on the fIrst page of text, as it IS a classic !!! The LAST LINE IS: EXPLETIVE DELETED!!!
    Edwin – 30 – (There would be a LOT less laughs, without the American Austin!!! Thank-you, car business!!!)

  4. The 1932 film “International House”, stars W.C. Fields , Burns & Allen, and others, and features quite a zany sequence of Fields zipping-around a lavish Moderne hotel interior in an American Austin coach like the one in this article… 🙂

    • Happy Moore rented a room at our family home in Malverne, N.Y. in the late 1940’s. He appeared with midget Stormy Bergh also of Malverne in the stage version of Olson and Johnson’s, also of Malverne, hit Broadway Show Hellzapoppin. They were billed as Berg and Moore. After Happy left us he went to the Olson and Johnson Farm in Carmel, N.Y. They had a retirement home for vaudevillians. We visited around 1950 and Happy showed us around including showing us the building with a stge where they entertained. Prior to leaving us we saw Happy in an a show at the Century Thetare in Lynbrook, N.Y a neighboring village. Happy played the vantriloquist and Stormy Bergh sat on his lap and played the dummy. I never knew what a happended to Happy afterwards. This is the only picture I havee ever seen of Happy and I am thankful to the website

  5. Happy Moore rented a room at our home in Malverne , Long Islndin the late 1940’s. I saw him do a comedy routine at the Century Threatre, Lynbrook, N.Y. with Stomy Bergh a midget also of Malverne and part of the act called called Bergh and Moore. Happy played the vantrilloquist and Stormy played the dummy.

    Happy and Stormy were in the stage version of Olson and Johnson’s Hellzapoppin. They also had a house in Malverne. Happy retired to the Olson and Johnson Farm in Carmel , N.Y. The farm was also retirement home for former vaudevillians The family visited Happy there around 1950.

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