Stan and Ollie on the High Seas at our December 8th Meeting
Many of Laurel & Hardy's films have cast them as sailors in the Navy, as workers on ships, as fishermen, and as people just needing an ocean cruise. Their characters just can't seem to get away from water. On Tuesday, December 8th, join us at the Mayflower Club for three of those films--and more!
In Men O' War (1929), sailors Stan and Ollie go for a stroll in the park, where they meet two girls who want to go canoeing. Even though Stan and Ollie are sailors, they don't know how to paddle the boat that they rent from James Finlayson. This film was shot on the lake in Hollenbeck Park, which many of our members will remember visiting on one of our 2007 locations tours.
The Live Ghost was released on December 8, 1934--exactly seventy five years before our Tuesday meeting. In The Live Ghost, Stan and Ollie agree to shanghai a new crew for Captain Walter Long's "ghost ship" at the price of one dollar a head. Mae Busch and Arthur Houseman are also featured.
Our feature for the evening is Saps at Sea (1940). In the film, Stan and Ollie work in the testing department of a horn factory. Ollie's doctor, James Finlayson, recommends that Stan should take Ollie on a boat trip to calm Ollie's shattered nerves. The Boys decide to rent a boat and live on it, without untying the boat from its mooring. Their goat, Narcissus, changes things.
To put everyone in a Christmas Spirit, we'll start the evening off with Charley Chase's rarely screened There Ain't No Santa Claus (1926). In this silent two reeler, cash strapped Charley uses practically all his money (including his rent money) to buy his wife a watch for Christmas. By accident, Charley's landlord (played by Noah Young) gets his hands on the watch and keeps it in lieu of past due rent. Also from Stan Taffel's film collection, we will screen Walt Disney's Mother Goose Goes Hollywood (1938) The cartoon features the Mother Goose characters Simple Simon (Stan) and The Pie Man (Ollie).
And if the films are not enough to get you out on a December night, we will also give out three free door prizes during the evening to show our appreciation for our members' great support during 2009 at all our meetings and our Locations Tour.
The doors at the Mayflower Club open at 6:30 p.m. and our meeting will start at 7:15 p.m. The Mayflower Club is located at 11110 Victory Boulevard in North Hollywood. 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 on December 8th!
Maude Booth Family Center Donations
The long tradition at Way Out West of donating canned goods and cash to the Maude Booth Family Center continues in 2009. The Maude Booth Family Center is located in North Hollywood and part of their work is to help feed local needy families during the holiday season. As you all know, this year has been especially hard for many families. To support this worthy cause, please bring at least one can of food, more if you can, to our December meeting. Cash donations are also accepted. Every little bit helps. Thank you very much for your continued generosity.
2010 Sacramento Convention Deadline
At one time it seemed like a long ways off, but the Sacramento Convention is just a little over six months away (June 17 through June 20th). If you are thinking about going--and you should, because it will probably be a long time before the International Convention comes back to California--you will receive a $25.00 discount, if you postmark your registration application on or before January 15th. There are also two pre-convention events on June 15th and June 16th (not included in the registration fee). For more information, go to the convention web site at:http://www.afmoasis49.com/convention.html
From the Forties Forward: Second Edition
Author (and Grand Sheik of the Boston Brats Tent) Scott MacGillivray has updated his book Laurel & Hardy: From the Forties Forward. The new edition has more than 50% new material. It's available in both hardcover and softcover editions. You can find more information at the publisher's online bookstore: http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000125256
From The Grand Sheik
Our final event for 2009 will be here soon. It seems like 2008 just ended. How quickly time goes by, when you're having a good time...as the old saying goes.
We started off the year in January with Babe's birthday meeting, with Randy Skretvedt as our special guest. When we picked our favorite landlord or landlady in a Laurel & Hardy film in March, we decided that Billy Gilbert was our favorite (Charlie Hall was a very close second). In April, we had Thelma Todd Night and were happy to welcome as our special guests Margaret Kerry and Ernie Weckbaugh, who both got their starts in show business in Our Gang Comedies. We celebrated Stan's birthday on his exact birth date, June 16th, with Stan's daughter Lois Laurel Hawes, his great-granddaughter Cassidy, and his great-great-grandchildren Lucy and Tommy. In August, Way Out West had what I'm pretty sure was the only Blanche Payson Night ever in the whole history of the Sons of the Desert. Ernie Weckbaugh was again our special guest.
Very special thanks to my wife Kris and son Jimmy for their support and help with everything I do with the Sons. Big thanks to Vice Sheik Bob Duncan, Grand Vizier Lori McCaffery and her husband Colin McCaffery, Keeper of the Celluloid Stan Taffel, David Rodriquez, Bob Satterfield, Elaine and Stan Schulman, Jayne Barnhart, Neal Pinyan, Kim and Allen Megarit and our special guests who joined us throughout the year. Thanks also to all the members who helped me with the toasts and song throughout the year.
In October, we had our latest location tour. It almost seems like they keep getting better and better. For starters, we filled all the available seats on three mini buses. We started and finished on time. All the bus drivers were great. There were no traffic problems. We got to walk up the driveway of the Wrong Again Mansion for the first time ever on a Way Out West Tour. I want to thank again Jimmy, Kris , Stan Taffel, and Bob Duncan for all their hard work and the help that they gave me on the tour. Also special thanks goes to John Duff, Dave Spahn, and Ken Runyan for their assistance on the tour.
And last, but not least, thanks to all the members of Way Out West that make us one the best tents in the Sons of the Desert! Happy holidays and have great New Year!
Notes from our August Meeting
We started our August 11th meeting off with toasts and song with Grand Sheik Jimmy Wiley Jr., Stan Taffel, Victor D'Agostino, Randy Johnson, Jayne Barnhart, Chris Spicher, "J.T." Tropper, and Bob Duncan. A special toast was also given by Jimmy to John Hughes. At the meeting, we honored Blanche Payson by screening her work with Laurel & Hardy in Below Zero, Our Wife, and Helpmates. We started the evening off with The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case that we ran out of time to screen at a previous meeting and finished the evening with A Bundle of Bliss that featured Blanche with Andy Clyde.
Highlights of the October 2009 Locations Tour
With every seat full in our three buses, we departed Culver City at 9 a.m. with 75 Laurel & Hardy fans eager to visit the locations seen in their films. Our tour began in downtown Culver City, with a look at the site of the former City Hall seen in both County Hospital and Going Bye-Bye! Nearby, we saw the site of Ollie's home from Hog Wild and the intersection from the beginning of Towed in a Hole.
The tour included a first-time visit to the porch of the mansion seen in Wrong Again. The owner of the estate was gracious enough to allow our entire group to get a close up view of the front of this house.
Our next stop was the always popular Music Box Steps. Most of the group climbed to the top of the steps, to match various "then" pictures along the way. We then saw the spot where Laurel first met Hardy in The Lucky Dog, followed by a quick glimpse of what is left of the prison gate in The Second Hundred Years.
The tour proceeded to three of the more recently discovered locations, which are the homes seen in Love 'em and Weep, Me and My Pal, and Another Fine Mess. A lunch break took place in a park in Cheviot Hills.
The bus tour concluded back in downtown Culver City. A walking tour of Main Street and the area around the Culver Hotel included scenes from 45 Minutes From Hollywood, Duck Soup, The Second Hundred Years, Hats Off, Putting Pants on Philip, Leave 'em Laughing, Two Tars, We Faw Down, Bacon Grabbers, County Hospital, Going Bye-Bye!, and Angora Love.
Remembering Soupy Sales
By Jimmy Wiley Jr.
Soupy Sales passed away, after a long illness, on October 22, 2009, at the age of 83. In the early sixties, when I was a teenager, no matter what I did after school, I always got home in time to be in front of the T.V. to see The Soupy Sales Show. Some of Soupy's jokes were predictable and sometimes just plain corny, but he always made me laugh. I loved it when he would break up when he told a joke. Then the guys behind the cameras in the studio would start laughing, and I would start laughing at home. It always was like we were all together in the same room. When I joined the Sons in the seventies, I was happy to learn, but not at all surprised, that Soupy was a big fan of Laurel & Hardy and that he attended meetings of the Sons Founding Tent in New York.
In the nineties, when Soupy did a standup act at a comedy club in Hollywood, myself, Kris, Jimmy, and Bob Satterfield went to see Soupy in person. His act was just as funny as I thought it would be. His jokes were clean and his timing was impeccable. After the show, we all went back stage to talk to Soupy. I was a little nervous, but Soupy soon put me at ease. I told him that both our birthdays were on January 8th. Then we talked about Elvis Presley, Larry Storch (F Troup), and Yvette Mimieux (Weena in The Time Machine), who all also had birthdays on January 8th. I also got to tell Soupy how much I enjoyed his television show. After Soupy took a picture with me and Kris, we all talked a little bit more with him, then it was time to leave. We all left the building together with Soupy and after we said our goodbyes, he said to all of us, "you kids take care." I had just met one of my childhood idols, he talked to me, he was really nice, and he cared about me and my friends! Goodbye Soupy, thanks for the laughs, we'll all miss you.
Actor George Billings Passes Away
By Bob Satterfield
I am sad to report that former child actor George Billings passed away on Friday, November 13th. Services were held at Valhalla in North Hollywood. He was billed as Georgie and appeared in over 70 films.
He worked with some of Hollywood's best known stars like: Mae West and W.C. Fields in My Little Chickadee (1940), with Fields in The Old Fashioned Way (1934), Gary Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Charley Chase in The Big Squirt (1937), Mickey Rooney in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936), and Bing Crosby in Pennies From Heaven (1936). He also appeared in seven of Hal Roach's Our Gang Comedies: Shivering Shakespeare, Choo-Choo, Birthday Blues, A Lad an' a Lamp, Fish Hooky, Bedtime Worries, and Wild Poses. And of course with Laurel & Hardy in the classic Babes in Toyland in 1934.
The Way Out West Tent had the pleasure of having Mr. & Mrs. Billings to a meeting in October 2008. He spoke about how he worked on stage with Mae West, how he remembered the soda fountain scenes with Charley Chase and how he loved to work with the Our Gang kids. He was selected for Our Gang after he won a Wheezer look-a-like contest. He was hired by the picture and did not have a contract as a regular Our Gang member.
He was a precious link to the glory days of Hal Roach Studios which is quickly disappearing forever. It was a treat to meet him in person.