Christmas Trees, Christmas Cards, and Christmas Presents December 9th
What possibly could all of these things have in common with Stan & Ollie? Join us at our next meeting on the evening of Tuesday, December 9th at the Mayflower Club and find out. If your curiosity won't let you wait that long, please continue reading.
Our film program for the evening will begin with the screening of Big Business (1927). In this silent short, Stan & Ollie sell Christmas Trees. Their door to door sales aren't going well, but just when the Boys think things can't get any worse, they attempt to sell a tree to James Finlayson. Will Fin become a satisfied customer? On our Locations Tour last year, we visited both the duplex in Culver City and the house in Cheviot Hills where most of Big Business was filmed. We'll have some then and now pictures from both locations for you to see at our dealers table.
The Fixer Uppers (1935) will be our second film. In this sound short, Stan & Ollie again sell door to door, but this time they sell greeting cards. Some of the cards that they sell are Christmas Cards. Stan & Ollie knock on the door of Mae Busch, who plays the distraught wife of painter Pierre Gustave (played by Charles Middleton). Mae feels her husband doesn't pay enough attention to her. On the advice of Stan, of all people, she decides to make her husband jealous to get more attention from him. Will Stan's plan be successful?
Our feature film will be Laurel & Hardy's classic Babes in Toyland (1934). In this feature film, also known as March of the Wooden Soldiers, Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee work for Santa Claus in Toyland, where they make Christmas Presents. The evil Silas Barnaby, played by long time Way Out West Tent member Henry Brandon, holds a mortgage against Mother Peep's giant shoe-house. The Boys live in the shoe with Mother Peep and her daughter, Bo-Peep. Barnaby threatens to evict everyone living in the shoe, unless Bo-Peep agrees to marry him. What can Stannie & Ollie do to help Mother Peep and her daughter Bo-Peep?
Before we screen Babes in Toyland we will play parts of a radio interview that Henry Brandon made about the film in the '80s. Finally, to complete our Christmas theme for the meeting, we will display (at our dealer's table) an original program from Stan and Babe's live Christmas show that they performed in Nottingham, England during Christmas 1953.
The doors to the Mayflower Club open at 6:30 p.m. and our meeting starts at 7:15 p.m. "Fisher Frank" hot dogs and assorted chips will be on sale at the Mayflower Kitchen and drinks will be on sale at the Mayflower Bar. Free cake will be served at our second break. See you December 9th!
Maude Booth Family Center Donations
For many years, members of the Way Out West Tent have donated canned goods and made cash donations to the Maude Booth Family Center during the holiday season. This year we will continue the tradition by asking everyone who attends our December 9th meeting to bring a can of food for this worthy cause. The Maude Booth Family Center is located in North Hollywood and helps needy families in the very neighborhood in which we meet. Those who are able are encouraged to bring two or more cans, or perhaps make a cash donation. It may not seem like much, but the Family Center depends on this fund-raising event every year and we don't want to disappoint them. Thank your for your continued generosity.
Lois Laurel Hawes at Our December Meeting
We're sorry that Lois Laurel Hawes was unable to attend our special event in October, but she has informed us that she plans on attending our December meeting, health and schedule permitting. Lois's granddaughter Cassidy will also come with her two children, Tommy and Lucy. They are selling new T-shirts, featuring the artwork of Lois' late husband Tony Hawes. Tony and Lois were regular attendees of Way Out West meetings for many years, and we're delighted to see Lois return with her family and with Tony's artwork.
From the Grand Sheik
How quickly this year has gone by! It seems like just yesterday that we were picking meeting dates and planning what we were going to do in 2008. Now all but the last of those meetings are over.
Our best 2008 meeting, without a doubt, had to be our August meeting when Lois Laurel Hawes, her granddaughter Cassidy, and Cassidy's children Tommy and Lucy were all in attendance. What an honor that Lois, the closest living relative to Stan Laurel, chose us to be the first Sons tent for her and her family to visit in over ten years! Our members got to see first hand what gracious and kind people Lois and her family are. Stan Laurel would be proud of them. And, if having Lois and her family at the meeting wasn't enough, we got to also see Randy Skretvedt's great film of Anita Garvin talking about Stan and Babe and her film career. It was Anita being Anita. What a meeting!
Another great meeting was our anniversary screening of The Devil's Brother in May. Congratulations to everyone who learned how to do the "finger wiggle." It took a couple of meetings of practice, but most of you got it right. To everyone who tried to do the "finger wiggle" and just never could do it, please keep trying. Miracles can happen! Special thanks to Isabela Melendez, Bart Williams, Allen Megarit, and Ralph Marks who practiced hard and had the courage to enter our "Kneesy Earsy Nosey Competition."
Thanks to everyone that gave toasts during the year. It's always great to see new faces on stage. Thanks to Stan Schulman, Bill Burgess, Ralph Marks, and Alan Cowen who told us during the year their personal stories of when they met Stan Laurel. The same goes for Ken Runyan, Allen Megarit, and Bryan Givens, who took to the stage for our Laurel & Hardy Jeopardy Trivia Game in October.
Our special guests during the year were Booth Coleman, Richard Bann, Randy Skretvedt, Jordan Young, George Billings, Lois Laurel Hawes, and her family Cassidy, Tommy, and Lucy. We thank all of them so much for joining us and hope to see them all again soon.
It takes a lot of work by a lot of people to put on the special event and the 6 meetings that we have every year at Way Out West. To Kris Wiley, Jimmy Wiley III, Lori & Colin McCaffery, Bob Duncan, Stan Taffel, Bob Satterfield, David Rodriguez, Elaine & Stan Schulman, Jayne Barnhart, Neal Pinyan, and Kim & Allen Megarit a very special thank you for all your help.
To all our members, thank you for your continuing support of our tent. Happy holidays and may each of you have a great New Year!
Notes From Our August Meeting
Our August meeting was held on Tuesday night August 19th. To the delight of everyone in attendance, Lois Laurel Hawes, her granddaughter Cassidy, her great grandson Tommy, and her great granddaughter Lucy all came to our August meeting. Everyone in The Mayflower Club was excited. Members quickly lined up to talk to Lois and have their pictures taken with her, before the meeting started. Attendance was over 150.
Jimmy Wiley Jr. was joined in giving the toasts and singing the Sons of the Desert Song by Stan Taffel, Bart Williams, Jayne Barnhart, Bob Duncan, Dave Spahn, Jordan Young, Randy Skretvedt, and Bob Stowell. After the toasts and song, Bart Williams introduced actor and playwright Tyler St. Mark who presented Lois with numbered reproductions of the official membership pin for the 1930s French Laurel & Hardy Fan Club. One reproduction was also given to the Way Out West Tent. Also in attendance were Hal Roach's grandson, Addison Randall, and ZaSu Pitts' grandson, John Reynolds.
In honor of Anita Garvin, the films for the night were: From Soup to Nuts, her own starring comedy short A Pair of Tights, Blotto, and a Charley Chase comedy with Anita Whispering Whoopee. But the special film of the night was Randy Sketvedt's Super 8 film of just Anita talking about her films and Stan & Babe. Randy did the interview as part of a film project for college. After the screening of the film, Randy and fellow author Jordan Young answered Anita Garvin questions from our members.
Notes From Our October Special Event
Our Way Out West-ern Barbecue was held at the Mayflower Club on Saturday October 18th. After our members enjoyed a delicious buffet barbecue prepared by Rick Royce Premiere BBQ Catering, Jimmy Wiley Jr. led everyone through the toasts and the singing of the Sons of the Desert Song. At the event there were two free door prizes, free popcorn (freshly popped on the spot), free candy, and a raffle of several Laurel & Hardy collectibles.
Our feature film for the meeting was our tent's namesake film, Way Out West. The two short films screened before Way Out West were selected by popular vote. When members registered for the event, they were asked to select their favorite Laurel & Hardy short film. The easy winner was The Music Box. Brats narrowly beat three other films to take the second spot.
As a surprise guest, Bob Satterfield brought George "Georgie" Billings to his first Way Out West event. George acted in Our Gang films as "Darby" in 1932 and 1933. In 1933, he appeared in Wild Poses with Spanky McFarland, the same film that Stan & Babe had cameo roles in. Although George didn't have any stories about Stan & Babe, he had a couple of cute stories about Mae West.
One of the many fun parts of the evening was our Laurel & Hardy Jeopardy Trivia Game, hosted by Stan Taffel (also our WOW Keeper of the Celluloid). Three contestants, Bryan Givens, Ken Runyan, and Allen Megarit, were picked from our audience for the game. After what much of the way was a pretty close game, Ken Runyan came out the winner. The answer to the "Final Jeopardy" question was "Oxford 0614" (which just happens to be part of Ken's e-mail address!). By winning the game, Ken won a free 2009 membership to the Way Out West Tent. Thanks to Kim Megarit for keeping score and to Stan Taffel for bringing in the "Jeopardy" game board and the movie theater style popcorn maker.
Silent screen star Anita Page passed away in Van Nuys on September 6, 2008 at the age of 98. In 1925, Anita began her film career in New York. She reached stardom in the last years of the silent film era and had a long career in acting and singing. Along with Laurel & Hardy, Anita appeared in the all-star feature The Hollywood Revue of 1929. Although they did not appear on screen together, she was very proud to have been in a movie with Laurel & Hardy. Anita was a guest at three Way Out West Tent Banquets, receiving our tent's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.
Our Gang's Buddy MacDonald passed away on September 24, 2008, in Seal Beach, just days short of his 86th birthday. At the age of 8, Bud won a spelling bee at school and someone at the Hal Roach Studios saw his picture in the paper. They asked him to come for an interview several days later, and he was signed with the Roach Studios. Bud joined Our Gang as a little boy with big ears and freckles. Although his work with Laurel & Hardy was cut from the final film, Buddy filmed a scene for Pardon Us in 1931. He was also featured in On The Loose with Thelma Todd & ZaSu Pitts (and Laurel & Hardy in cameo roles).
Bud first became a member of the Way Out West Tent at our 2001 Annual Banquet, and was honored with a meeting featuring his films the following year. He was a very kind man, who was proud of his work on film and even more proud of his work as a substance abuse counselor. Soon after joining Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1950s, Bud became a popular speaker throughout Southern California and strived to help those in need to gain control of their lives. He co-founded the Southern California Alcohol and Drug Program.
Delmar Watson, who started his film career at the age of 6 months, passed away October 26, 2008, in Glendale at the age of 82. Delmar was a member of the Watson Family of nine child actors, whose combined efforts included over 1,000 films. Hal Roach included Delmar in such Our Gang films as The Pinch Singer, Shrimps for a Day, Our Gang Follies of 1936, and The Pigskin Palooka.
In the 1940s, Delmar began a career in newspapers as a photographer. Delmar started his own photography business in 1967, having won numerous awards for his photography of Hollywood's greatest stars. The Watson Family was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999. Delmar attended many Way Out West meetings and banquets, most recently joining us at our 2004 Annual Banquet.