NOTE: This is an old issue of the Brushwood Gulch Gazette, which has been archived for reference purposes. Although some links have been updated, the text of this archived newsletter remains unchanged. Please keep in mind that these articles have NOT been updated to reflect changes that may have occurred since they were originally printed. Return to the index of archived issues.
Believe it or not, the year 2000 has finally arrived and the Way Out West Tent will start it off on Monday, January 24. Scheduled to join us for this first meeting of the new year will be Our Gang alumni Jay R. Smith and Dorothy Deborba. They will share their memories of working for Hal Roach and with Laurel and Hardy.
Jay R. Smith was a member of "the gang" during the silent era, appearing in thirty-six comedies during a four year period. Among his Our Gang credits are Seeing the World, which featured James Finlayson, Charlie Hall, and Stan Laurel; Thundering Fleas, with Charley Chase and Oliver Hardy; and Barnum & Ringling, Inc., with Oliver Hardy. He also appears in the Laurel and Hardy short 45 Minutes from Hollywood. This will mark Jay R. Smith's very first appearance at any Way Out West Tent function.
Dorothy "Echo" Deborba has been a devoted member of our tent for over 20 years, joining us most recently at our annual banquet in October. She appeared in twenty-four Our Gang comedies in the early thirties, including Fly My Kite featuring Mae Bush, Shiver My Timbers featuring Billy Gilbert, and Choo-Choo! featuring a brief voice-over by Oliver Hardy. Dorothy also appeared in the Laurel and Hardy films The Stolen Jools and Fra Diavolo. Her other screen credits include Bombshell with Jean Harlow and Men of the North with Gilbert Roland.
Also, we'll be celebrating the birthdays of Oliver Hardy and Hal Roach. Hal Roach was born January 14, 1892, and Oliver Hardy was born only 4 days later on January 18, 1892. We will honor them with birthday cakes during the break.
This special Monday night meeting will take place at the Mayflower Club, located at 11110 Victory Boulevard (west of Vineland Avenue) in North Hollywood. A brand new batch of the Fabulous Fisher Franks will be on hand along with the Marvelous Mayflower Bar serving 'em up as always. So, don't miss out on the beginning of a new era in the Way Out West Tent. Come join us on Monday, January 24, 2000. We'll look forward to seeing you there.
It's January, which means your annual dues are up for renewal. Membership fees are due every January, regardless of when you join during the year. We have not raised dues in many years, and once again they will remain the same as last year: Single $28; Couple $44; or Family $48, with all members living at the same address. The Way Out West Tent relies on your dues to rent our meeting hall, publish and mail our newsletter, and to provide flowers for the graves of Laurel, Hardy, and other celebrities who were dear to our tent. Dues are responsible for most of our yearly operating budget, so the sooner you pay the sooner we'll be able to pay our bills. We thank everyone for their support.
The 12th International Sons of the Desert Convention is only six months away, so if you've been thinking about going now is the time to sign up! The convention will take place July 20-23 in Tacoma, Washington. International Conventions don't make their way to the west coast very often, so this is a great opportunity for Way Out West members to become more involved with the organization and meet other Sons from around the world. Registration forms will be available at our next meeting, or you may download the form from the Sea-Tac 2000 website, located at:
Leonard Maltin Presents, the cable television series which presents classic films from the Hal Roach Studios library, will be on hiatus throughout the month of January. The Odyssey Channel, which carries the program, will return the popular program to its lineup in mid-February. Check with your cable or satellite provider to see if they carry this channel in your area.
The newest issue of the Intra-Tent Journal is finally available, after a long hiatus. With a new look and a new co-editor, you'll want to pick up a copy for yourself at the next meeting to see what changes have been made.
The Way Out West Tent website was offline for nearly a week, due to problems with our Internet provider. This problem has been resolved, and we do not anticipate any additional down time.
The meeting of December 7, 1999 began with Bob Duncan introducing Charley Chase's Fraidy Cat. Then the meeting officially began with the singing of the Sons of the Desert song, followed by the traditional toasts. Special toasts were offered in memory of celebrity members Harold "Bouncy" Wertz and Billy Benedict. Bob Duncan followed, once again, with film introductions of Stan and Ollie in The Battle of the Century and The Music Box.
At the break, we celebrated the upcoming holiday season, as well as the birthday of Lois Laurel Hawes, with delicious and festive cakes. Joining us for the evening was the ever-faithful Jay Dare, who worked with the boys as their costumer at the 20th Century Fox Studios during The Dancing Masters and The Bullfighters. The evening and the century concluded with a screening of the boys' classic feature, Sons of the Desert.
The Way Out West Tent would like to thank all of the members and guests who brought canned goods to the meeting, which were donated to the Maud Booth Family Center. Also a very special thank you goes out to the person who very quietly dropped five $20 bills into the bags of donated goods. This very generous gift was also passed on to the Maud Booth Family Center.
"The Lost Films of L&H, Volume 4" was released January 4 on DVD. It contains Laurel and Hardy in They Go Boom, Their Purple Moment, Bacon Grabbers, and Unaccustomed As We Are, as well as the Oliver Hardy solo film Should Sailors Marry? and the Charley Chase film On the Wrong Trek (with a cameo by Laurel and Hardy). This is the first time that Bacon Grabbers will be available in the U.S. home video market.
We are saddened to report that long time Way Out West Tent member Billy Benedict passed away on November 25, 1999, as a result of complications from heart surgery. He was 82.
In 1941, Billy appeared as a corporal in Laurel and Hardy's 20th Century Fox feature, Great Guns. Over the years, Billy attended many Way Out West Tent meetings and banquets, receiving our tent's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Most recently, Billy joined us in March 1999, for a questions and answers session with our members.
Billy first came to Hollywood to become a dancer, but he soon found work as an actor. His most memorable role was that of "Whitey" in the Bowery Boys series. He also played the part of "Whitey" in the Captain Marvel serial, along with friend and fellow Way Out West member Frank "Junior" Coghlan. In total, his career totaled over 150 film credits and numerous television appearances. Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Billy Benedict.
On November 21, 1999, Our Gang member Harold "Bouncy" Wertz passed away at the age of 72, due to complications from a stroke.
Wertz was given a screen test by Hal Roach and beat out hundreds of other children for the role of "Bouncy." Yet he appeared in only three Our Gang shorts: Choo Choo, The Pooch, and Hook and Ladder. At our tent's annual banquet in 1998, he explained why he had such a short career with Our Gang. When the 1933 Long Beach earthquake hit, the Hal Roach Studios were closed temporarily. Apparently, his contract had an "Act of God" clause written in it. By the time the studios reopened, "Bouncy" had outgrown his part and his Our Gang days were over. He made no other films.
Harold attended our tent's banquet last October, where he was officially made an Honorary Member of the Way Out West Tent. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Harold Wertz.
She was born on March 3, 1913 in Brooklyn, New York. Her stage career began at the age of five. In 1930, she made her motion picture debut. It was the same year she reprised her role from the Broadway play Courage by playing the same role in the film version. While working at Paramount Studios in the early 1930s, she was cast as the juvenile lead in many films. She also played the leading lady in several B motion pictures. Some of her film credits include Huckleberry Finn with Jackie Coogan, Murders in the Rue Morgue with Bela Lugosi, and Charlie Chan at the Opera with Warner Oland. Her last film was in 1942, I Live on Danger playing the part of a nurse. Soon after she retired from the screen. She died on April 11, 1980 in La Jolla, California, at the age of 67. One of her best-known roles was that of Alice in the 1933 release of Alice In Wonderland, but Laurel and Hardy fans remember her best as Bo Peep in Babes in Toyland...Charlotte Henry
Released July 18, 1926. Starring Allen "Farina" Hoskins, Mickey Daniels, Joe Cobb, Mary Kornman, and Jay R. Smith. An entire flea circus accidentally winds up on the back of Farina's dog. Mary's older sister is getting married that day and the gang shows up at the wedding with the dog. As the dog wanders around, the fleas drop off everywhere, sending everyone into itching attacks. Oliver Hardy and Charley Chase also appear in this two reeler.
Released January 3, 1931. Starring Matthew "Stymie" Beard, Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins, Jackie Cooper, Norman "Chubby" Chaney, and Dorothy Deborba. A local man is trying to cheat Grandma by having her sell her store to him for a lot less than the real value. The gang, who are helping Grandma run the store, tries to discourage two other legitimate businessmen who have a much better offer for her. When the local "cheat" gets wind of this, he immediately gets Grandma to sign the "bad deal." Just then, the two honest men show up with the better deal. However, it is too late...or is it?
A Chump at Oxford
Released February 16, 1940. Starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Forrester Harvey, Wilfred Lucas, Forbes Murray, Eddie Borden, Peter Cushing, and Charlie Hall. Street cleaners Laurel and Hardy foil a bank hold up. Their reward is an education at Oxford University in England. Upon their arrival at Oxford, the boys fall victim to several pranks played on them by the students. As a result of a bump on the head from an open window, Stan reverts to an alter ego of years passed, Lord Paddington. To Ollie's amazement, Stan's brilliance finds Ollie as his valet until another bump on the head brings the real Stan back.
90 Years Ago
85 Years Ago
80 Years Ago
75 Years Ago
70 Years Ago
65 Years Ago
35 Years Ago
25 Years Ago
5 Years Ago
Sources for Looking Back:
Laurel or Hardy - The Solo Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver "Babe" Hardy, by Rob Stone
Laurel and Hardy - The Magic Behind the Movies, by Randy Skretvedt
Laurel & Hardy&emdash;From the Forties Forward, by Scott MacGillivray
Laurel & Hardy - The British Tours, by A.J. Marriot
January 1 Matthew Stymie Beard Our Gang 3 ZaSu Pitts On the Loose 12 Patsy Kelly Pick a Star 14 Mary Ann Jackson Our Gang 14 Hal Roach 18 Oliver Hardy 18 Norman Chubby Chaney Our Gang 20 Rolfe Sedan Double Whoopee 26 Alf Goulding A Chump at Oxford (director) 28 Mary Boland Nothing But Trouble 30 Wilfred Lucas Pardon Us, A Chump at Oxford February 2 Noah Young Sugar Daddies, Do Detectives Think? 10 Jimmy Durante Hollywood Party 10 Alan Hale, Sr. Our Relations 11 Anita Garvin From Soup to Nuts 11 Angelo Rossitto Babes in Toyland 14 Trudy Marshall The Dancing Masters 14 Jack Benny The Hollywood Revue of 1929 14 Jimmy Murphy Stan Laurel's valet 15 William Janney Bonnie Scotland 25 Dick Jones Our Gang, Babes in Toyland 26 Stanley "Tiny" Sandford Big Business, Busy Bodies, Pardon Us