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We'll honor the 110th anniversary of the birth of Stan Laurel at our next meeting on Tuesday, June 20th. We'll have a special program of Laurel and Hardy films, in addition to one of Stan's earlier solo efforts. There will be birthday cakes to celebrate the occasion. We will meet at the Mayflower Club, located at 11110 Victory Boulevard (just west of Vineland Avenue) in North Hollywood. The doors will open at 6:30PM, and the meeting will begin at 7:15PM. Our "Fabulous Fisher Franks" hot dogs will be available before the meeting and during breaks, in addition to drinks from the Marvelous Mayflower Bar. We'll look forward to seeing you on Tuesday evening, June 20, 2000.
Click here for a map to the Mayflower Club...
by Bob Duncan
At the April 25th meeting, we played a tape of an old Jan & Dean recording entitled "Laurel & Hardy." This little bit of L&H trivia was recorded in 1968, but was never put into general release. After the meeting, one of members told me that Jan Berry never sang on that song because he was still recovering from his auto accident at that time. Finding this very intriguing, I went to the local library and pulled out some rock history reference books. Thus emerged the following story:
Jan & Dean had a very successful pop music career in the early '60s, however, their career was pretty much over after the emergence of the Beatles and other rock bands in the middle '60s. In April 1966, Jan Berry crashed his Corvette into a parked truck on Whittier Boulevard while traveling, depending upon which story you read, anywhere from 65 to 90 mph. Almost killing himself, he was in a coma for months afterwards. Suffering permanent brain damage, he went through years of therapy and never completely recovered. Dean Torrence tried to keep the name "Jan & Dean" alive by releasing older material but his efforts pretty much went nowhere. He founded a graphics firm and began designing album covers for LPs. Meanwhile, Jan was going through physical therapy, finally getting to the point where he felt he was ready to get back into a recording studio. He signed a contract with Warner Brothers in November of 1967 to record under the name "Jan & Dean." Dean chose not to participate in this effort, as he thought that Jan was not ready, either physically or mentally, to get back into the business. Dean felt that Jan was being taken advantage of, but he did allow Jan to use the name "Jan & Dean" for these recordings. Jan wrote and produced three singles, one of which was entitled "I Know My Mind." The "B" side of this record was the song "Laurel & Hardy." All of these records were flops and the contract expired.
We know that Dean did not participate in these sessions and given Jan's physical condition at the time, there is an excellent chance that he also did not participate in these recordings. So, what we have then, are recordings done by session musicians, or in other words, we have a "Jan & Dean" record on which neither Jan nor Dean appeared. Can you say "Milli Vanilli"???
So, what was once a search for an obscure bit of L&H history, has instead brought out this very bizarre tale or "here's another nice mess I've gotten us into..."
We would also like to offer a tip of our derbies to Bill Vlahos for his donation of a huge poster size portrait of Stan and Ollie from the film, Sons of the Desert. It was on display at our last meeting and will be on display at future meetings. Bill was a member of our tent back in 1980-81 and at that time he was kind enough to donate the large Sons of the Desert escutcheon banner that is displayed at all of our meetings. Many thanks!
Sea-Tac 2000the 12th International Sons of the Desert Conventionis just around the corner, and we're happy to say that many Way Out West Tent members will be in attendance. For those who have not yet signed up, but are still interested in going, time is running out. The convention will be highlighted by a Laurel and Hardy Vaudeville Show in Tacoma's Pantages Theater, in addition to three banquets, several seminars, films, videos, a dealer's room with L&H memorabilia for sale, celebrities, and numerous games. It's sure to be a lot of fun. For more information or to get a registration form, ask at our next meeting or visit the convention website.
New Laurel and Hardy DVDs continue to be released, with Volume 6 of the "Lost Films of Laurel and Hardy" released on April 25. This disc includes Putting Pants on Philip, the popular 1928 silent film which has never before been available commercially on video. In addition, the DVD contains That's My Wife, Flying Elephants, 45 Minutes from Hollywood, Charley Chase and Oliver Hardy in Crazy Like a Fox, and Stan Laurel in The Soilers. The disc may be ordered online from Amazon.com from one of the following links:
If you were not at our April 25th meeting, you really missed something special. We started off with Vice Sheik Jimmy Wiley leading us all in the Sons of the Desert song and toasts to the boys and company. Next up was Bob Duncan, who treated us to a rare Jan and Dean recording of a tune called "Laurel and Hardy." He followed that by introducing Stan and Ollie in Helpmates.
Then our special guests for the evening, authors/historians Richard Bann and Marc Wanamaker, took us on a photo tour covering the life and career of Hal E. Roach. It began all the way back with Roach's days in New York, followed by slides of his early studios here in California. The Hal Roach Studio was covered in great detail, with photos of it under construction in 1919. There were pictures of Mr. Roach's office, the film vault, the lake that was used in many L&H films, the pool used by the Our Gang kids, and the home where his parents lived on the lot. We saw changes in the studio over the years: more stages were added in the '20s and '30s; in the '40s, the studio was known as "Fort Roach" during World War II; the studio made the transition to television in the '50s; and sadly, in the '60s, the studio was demolished and replaced by a Datsun automobile dealership.
There were also shots of the great celebrities who worked for Hal Roach, such as Harold Lloyd, Toto, Charley Chase, Patsy Kelly, James Finlayson, and, of course, Stan and Ollie. The technical crew was also covered with slides of George Stevens, George Marshall, Art Lloyd, Alf Goulding, T. Marvin Hatley, Elmer Raguse, Roy Seawright, and many more. Hal Roach's children, Hal Jr. and Margaret, also grew up before our eyes through the photos. The final years of the life of Hal Roach were shown at his 100th birthday party at the old MGM Studios and by his appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It was quite a spectacular presentation that all of us who saw it will never forget.
During the break, we cut the cakes in celebration of the birthday of our good friend and L&H costumer, Jay Dare, and the anniversary of the birth of Edgar Kennedy.
We at the Way Out West tent want to offer a special thank you to both Richard and Marc for not only making this evening a memorable one, but also for the work they do to preserve and share the history of all of Hollywood. Richard Bann is currently writing histories on all of the Laurel and Hardy films, including information on production, cast, crew, reviews, and preservation. They are available at the www.laurel-and-hardy.com website.
June 16th marks the 110th Anniversary of Stan Laurel's birth. In his honor, we present a biography of Stan Laurel issued by the Hal Roach Studios publicty department in 1937.
Motion pictures allowed Stan Laurel to have a real home and at the same time follow the career he liked best. So that is why in 1922, after five years of alternating between stage and screen, he took his make-up box to the Hal Roach Studios where it has been ever since.
Laurel was born in 1890 in Ulverston, England. His father and mother were professionals, his mother an actress and his father and actor and playwright. He went with them on most of their travels, living in trunks, dressing rooms, railroad stations and theaters. At the age of seven, he first stepped before the footlights, playing the part of a newsboy in "Lights of London" and singing the olio. When fifteen he started out on his own, drifting about Europe in musical comedy, vaudeville and song, dance and patter acts.
Therefore his education was spasmodic. Sometimes he went to school. More often he did not. Briefly he attended King James Grammar School, Gainform High School, Tynemouth College in England and finished his classroom lore in Glasgow, Scotland.
In his second year on his own, he joined Fred Karno's London Comedians, in which Charlie Chaplin was the featured player. The troupe came to the United States in 1910, arriving on a cattle boat. For a little more than three years the group toured the country from coast to coast. With their disbanding, Laurel ventured into vaudeville with quite a bit of success.
In 1917 he made his first picture---on the Universal lot---but he decided he preferred the stage and returned to it the following year.
He and Oliver Hardy made their first Hal Roach picture together in 1927 and it was an overnight sensation. Public and exhibitors craved more mirthquakes from this droll pair. Their partnership on the screen has continued for a decade and they have starred in more than 60 shorts and several full-length features, such as Pardon Us, Pack Up Your Troubles, Devil's Brother, Sons of the Desert, Babes in Toyland, Bonnie Scotland, Bohemian Girl, Our Relations, and Way Out West.
Laurel takes an active part in the production aside from contributing his amusing antics. He writes, plans and assists in the directing. He attends the previews, slipping into the theaters unnoticed and disappearing before the lights go up.
He is shy and retiring and hates ostentation. When the first reticence is banished, Laurel becomes an interesting conversationalist and reveals a wide knowledge to all topics. He reads extensively on diversified subjects, but prefers stories of English life, early American history, and adventure yarns.
Despite his love and appreciation of the United States, Laurel idealizes the British Isles. He enjoys entertaining visiting Britons, swapping reminiscences and displaying a scrapbook filled with items about his father and mother in their heyday.
Deep sea fishing and gardening are his favorite recreations. One achievement which is a great source of pride to the comedian is his award of a Tuna Club button, giving him membership in this noted organization of deep sea fisherman.
Laurel is five feet ten inches tall and weight 150 pounds. He walks with a springy, athletic stride and his clear blue eyes are expressive and observant.
He was born on January 20, 1896 in New York. He remembers his stage debut as leading a donkey across the stage where Anna Held was doing a show. Some of his earliest work includes The Follies of the Day playing the part of George M. Cohan. He was also an understudy to Al Jolson in The Passing Show. He began his film career on the east coast working for such companies as Vitagraph, Tanhouser, and Kalem. He spent four years at Universal Studios working in silent films with Lon Chaney, Sr., Hoot Gibson, and Laura La Plante. He also appeared in such silent classics as The Merry Widow, Beau Geste, and Uncle Tom's Cabin. His nearly 300 film appearances took him into the sound era as well, with credits such as Ruggles of Red Gap, A Night at the Opera, The Wizard of Oz, Young Frankenstein, and Bluebeard's Eighth Wife...his own personal favorite. In television, he appeared in many favorites such as The Gale Storm Show, The Jack Benny Show, The Addams Family, and Burns and Allen. In his later years he joined us at a Way Out West Tent meeting. He was given a special honor in 1980 at the Sons of the Desert International Convention in Hollywood. He died on September 16, 1982 in Pacific Palisades at the age of 86. His work at the Hal Roach Studios included Our Gang's Mush and Milk, but Laurel and Hardy fans remember him best as the hotel desk clerk in Double Whoopee...Rolfe Sedan.
Source for Did You Know:
Reel Characters, by Jordan Young
Public Ghost #1
Released December 14, 1935. Starring Charley Chase, Joyce Compton, Edwin Maxwell, and Clarence H. Wilson. Charley is hired by a crazy person to haunt a house that is being occupied by a young lady and her father. Charley sings "Looky, Looky, Looky, I am a Spooky."
Released January 20, 1924. Starring Stan Laurel, James Finlayson, and William Gillespie. After being discharged from the army, Stan finds work at a construction site. Mistakenly, Stan is promoted to boss and is in charge of the site. Stan's former sergeant in the army is now taking orders from Stan. You will notice that some of the scenes in this film pop up a few years later in Laurel and Hardy's The Finishing Touch.
Released September 10, 1932. Starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Rychard Cramer, Vivien Oakland, and Arthur Housman. A judge banishes the boys from town. A good soul, who is also drunk, invites them to his house to spend the night. Not only does he take them to the wrong house, he takes them to the judge's house, where the boys accidentally get the judge's wife drunk. When the judge returns home...look out!
Released October 30, 1936. Starring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Daphne Pollard, Betty Healy, James Finlayson, Alan Hale, Sidney Toler, Iris Adrian, Lona Andre, and Arthur Housman. Sailors Bert Hardy and Alfie Laurel are on shore leave. Their visit to town causes nothing but trouble for their identical twin brothers, Stan and Ollie. The brothers are reunited at the end of the film after a series of events and mistaken identities.
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Sources for Looking Back:
Laurel & Hardy - The British Tours, by A.J. Marriot
Laurel & Hardy - From the Forties Forward, by Scott MacGillivray
Laurel & Hardy - The Magic Behind the Movies, by Randy Skretvedt
Laurel or Hardy - The Solo Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver "Babe" Hardy, by Rob Stone
2 Rychard Cramer Scram, Saps at Sea 2 Sidney "Woim" Kibrick Our Gang 4 Henry Armetta The Devil's Brother 5 John Elliott Sons of the Desert 5 Del Henderson Laurel-Hardy Murder Case 5 Billy "Froggy" Laughlin Our Gang 12 Alice Cooke Stan Jefferson Trio 14 Donald Meek Air Raid Wardens 15 Tom Kennedy Pack Up Your Troubles 18 Bill Patterson WOW Founding Grand Sheik 18 Lupe Velez Hollywood Party 18 Chill Wills Way Out West 19 Vera Ralston The Fighting Kentuckian 19 Harvey Wasden L&H Sound Man 20 Muriel Evans Pack Up Your Troubles 22 Orson Bean Sons of the Desert Co-Founder 23 Hank Worden The Bullfighters 29 Thelma Todd Another Fine Mess, On the Loose
5 Ellinor Vanderveer The Hoosegow 6 Robert Mitchum The Dancing Masters 8 Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer Our Gang 9 Allen "Farina" Hoskins Our Gang 10 Jack Haley Pick a Star 11 Jean Parker The Flying Deuces 15 Charles Gemora The Chimp, Swiss Miss 16 Lucien Littlefield Sons of the Desert, Dirty Work 17 Charles Judels Swiss Miss 18 Andrea Leeds The Bohemian Girl 19 Charlie Hall Tit For Tat, Come Clean 20 Fred Kelsey Laurel-Hardy Murder Case 23 Jean Darling Our Gang 26 Richard Currier L&H Film Editor 27 James Finlayson Pardon Us, Big Business 27 Thomas Benton Roberts Two Tars 30 Julie Bishop The Bohemian Girl