Oliver Norvell Hardy 

  The Another Fine Mess Tent of Northern Ireland         



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Click on one of the links/subject titles below or simply browse down the page to view all the latest Laurel and Hardy news (click on the bowler hats between each article of news to return to the top of the page):


Latest stories/events — Index

February 2013

July 2012

December 2011

November 2011

February 2011

October 2010

November 2009

May 2009

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009



Archived News

News of Meeting Dates & Tent e-Magazine


February 2013


Dates agreed for 2013


July 2012


Death of Celebrity Member Eric Sykes CBE, on 4 July 2012 at age 89


Next meeting is on Saturday 15 September 2012


December 2011


Meeting Dates for 2012


November 2011


Next meeting is on Saturday 17 September 2011


New Laurel and Hardy restaurant in Belfast!


February 2011


Charity Screening in Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church

October 2010


MGM files for bankruptcy protection


Sir Norman Wisdom dies at age 95


A Magnificent £534 raised for Concern Worldwide


Charity Fundraiser For Concern Worldwide

November 2009

Dates for 2010 Meetings

May 2009

New Play in Liverpool: Stan And Babe — 27, 29 and 30 May 2009


March 2009

Campaign to get Laurel and Hardy back on TV — Sign the petitions now!

The North West Evening Mail wants to hear from all Stan Fans

By (Mac)George...Stan Laurel in the 21st century?

Book on Charlie Hall by Dean McKeown

Coy Watson Jnr. dies at age 96

New Home Secured for Ulverston's Laurel and Hardy Museum

Babes In Waltland

Plug pulled on Hospital for Hollywood Actors


February 2009

Membership of the Another Fine Mess Tent is now FREE!


January 2009

Movie-still identity

Search for Oliver Hardy film

Vote for Laurel and Hardy


Latest News 2008

One Night Stan: A play by and starring Miles Gallant

Delmar Watson, of Our Gang fame, dies at age 82

Meeting at The Tudor


Meeting dates for 2009 confirmed


The Nutty Nut News Network



Latest News 2007

Raffle in aid of the Laurel and Hardy Statue Appeal


Death of Joey Bishop


Death of Marcel Marceau


Another Fine Gazette




Archived News


Archived News — click here



News of meetings/tent e-magazine:


***Next meeting — Saturday 15 September 2012***


Tent meetings — Schedule of 2012 meeting dates



Latest News — February 2013 


Dates agreed for 2013


The tent meeting dates have now been agreed for 2013, so please make a big red blotch...er, we mean 'note' in your diary so that you'll miss no Laurel and Hardy in 2013!  And please make sure to invite all your friends; well attended meetings mean laughter aplenty, and that's just what we want!


We look forward to enjoying Stan & Babe on the big screen with you once again this year!



Latest News — July 2012 


Death of celebrity member, Eric Sykes CBE, on 4 July 2012 at age 89.


It is with very considerable regret that we report the death of our much-loved celebrity tent member, Eric Sykes CBE.

The BBC reported that Eric's long-time manager and friend, Norma Farnes, announced his death.  He "died peacefully after a short illness.  His family were with him." 

Eric had an amazing career spanning over 60 years.  Although he began his career writing radio material for comedians including Frankie Howerd, Tony Hancock and for 'The Goon Show', he later found success with his own TV shows including 'Dress Rehearsal' in 1956, 'Sykes And A...' in 1960 and a follow-up, simply titled 'Sykes', in 1972.  In the latter two series, Eric acted alongside Hattie Jacques as a brother and sister.  It is these gentle and ground-breaking comedy series for which Eric will be best remembered.

Another of Eric's best-known productions was in a virtually silent slapstick film called 'The Plank'.

The 1967 short saw him and Tommy Cooper play accident-prone workmen and is regarded as a landmark of visual comedy.  [Another version with Arthur Lowe reprising the Tommy Cooper role was made in the 1970s].

Eric also starred in: the controversial 1969 sitcom 'Curry and Chips' alongside longtime writing partner Spike Milligan, who was blacked up to play an Irish-Pakistani factory worker; and 'The Nineteenth Hole', made for ITV in 1989.

After this he appeared in various movies including 'The Others', alongside Nicole Kidman, and as caretaker Frank Bryce in 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', and all of this despite being almost deaf and blind.  He was an inspiration to all of us.

Eric's passing has provoked tributes from many of our leading comedy stars...

Sir Bruce Forsyth paid tribute to the star, calling him "one of the greats of comedy in this country".

"He was universally loved here," the entertainer continued. "He was just one of the funniest men ever."

Comedian Stephen Fry wrote on Twitter: "Oh no! Eric Sykes gone? An adorable, brilliant, modest, hilarious, innovative and irreplaceable comic master. Farewell, dear, dear man."

League of Gentlemen star Mark Gatiss said: "The wonderful Eric Sykes has left us. A giant of comedy and a gentleman - funny to his very core. RIP."

Comic Robin Ince paid tribute to "the last link to many of the most important early post war comedians" and "a great entertainer".

Former BBC head of comedy Jon Plowman paid tribute to Sykes as "a warm man, a kind man, a warm family man".

"We won't see his like again," he said. "He was a wonderful improviser.

"His genius was both as a scriptwriter but also someone who could do stuff off the cuff. He was classless and funny and warm."

Eric was made an OBE in 1986 before being elevated to a CBE in 2004.

In 1992, he received lifetime achievement honours from the Writers' Guild and the British Comedy Awards.

Eric celebrated 60 years of marriage on 14 February 2012 with his wife Edith (Eleanore Milbrandt), and together they had three daughters, Catherine, Julie, Susan, and a son, David.

We extend our deepest sympathy to Eric's family, and also to Norma Farnes.



Next Meeting — Saturday 15 September 2012


Our next meeting is Saturday 15 September 2012


Alongside our usual selection of movies by The Boys we will pay tribute to our celebrity comedian member, Eric Sykes CBE, who passed away on 4 July 2012.


We can promise you a fine selection of classic comedies, so make sure to come along on the night and don't forget to bring your friends — it promises to be a great night!


The venue is, of course, our usual...the Pavilion.  See you there!





Latest News — December 2011 


Meeting Dates for 2012

Our meeting dates for 2012 are below.  Except where indicated, they are to be held, as usual, in the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion, off the Upper Newtownards Road (near Dundonald House) and will kick off at 7.00pm for 7.30pm.  Please note that since young kids are present we will adhere fairly strictly to our timetable so the events will begin at 7.30pm sharp—ish...if you're late you'll miss out! 

Don't forget to write these dates firmly into your diaries...and tell all your friends:

Saturday 4 February 2012


Saturday 7 April 2012 — cancelled...it's Easter Saturday; d'oh!


Saturday 2 June 2012


Saturday 15 September 2012


Saturday 24 November 2012

We look forward to seeing you there and thank you for your continued support.





Latest News — November 2011 


Next Meeting — Saturday 26 Nowonder 2011


Our next meeting is Saturday 26 Nowonder...excuse us, we mean November 2011. 


It is our Christmas meeting and our 7th birthday rolled into one, so expect the usual festive frolics including fun and games and a few special surprises.  You are guaranteed a rib-tickling evening, so make sure to come along on the night and bring your friends — the more the merrier, and we do want a merry Christmas now, don't we...?


The venue is, of course, our usual...the Pavilion.  See you there!



New Laurel and Hardy Restaurant in Belfast


The Another Fine Mess Tent is delighted to announce the opening of a very attractive Laurel and Hardy restaurant in Belfast, Stann & Olly's.  We were tipped off by member Alex Kane -- thank you Alex -- and when we visited on Thursday 17 November the restaurant had not yet opened, although their carry-out had, named Abbott's, after Abbott and Costello.  It was expected, however, that the restaurant would have its official opening sometime during week commencing Monday 21 November. 


The restaurant is licensed, and is themed on an American diner.  It is very attractive -- pictures to follow soon.  It nestles beside the Movie House on the Dublin Road, so it has a very prominent location and what better before/after a movie than to have a bite while perusing all of the wonderful Laurel and Hardy pictures (and a few of their peers) inside. 


The website is at the time of writing still under construction but the address is http://www.stann-ollys.com


The address and telephone number is:-


Stann & Olly's Restaurant, 18 Dublin Road, Belfast BT2 7HN -- Telephone (028) 9023 1213





Latest News — February 2011 


Charity Screening of 'the boys' in Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church


The Another Fine Mess Tent is delighted to have been invited to hold a charity screening of 'the boys' in Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church on Saturday 12 February 2011 at 7.30pm.


The charities to benefit from this meeting will be Cruse — that wonderful organisation that helps people to cope with bereavement — and the Newtownbreda Presbyterian Church Building Fund.


In honour of this event we have looked in every available nook and cranny to ensure we have 'the boys' very best work on display that night. 


Everyone is welcome, and it will be especially warming to see people from across NI's religious spectrum. 


There is no admission charge but rather donations, no matter how small, will be gladly received at the door. 


It will be great to see a large turn-out of members on the night.  An enjoyable evening is guaranteed!





Latest News — October 2010 


MGM files for bankruptcy protection (October 2010)


Earlier this year MGM offered itself to the market for sale but in the absence of any serious bids and with debts totalling US$4 billion, MGM has begun to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy.  This would allow MGM to continue to function as normal pending a resolution of its problems. 


MGM has been suffering from a lack of blockbuster movies and reductions in DVD sales. 


Management has announced proposals to creditors who have until later in October to consider them.





Sir Norman Wisdom dies at age 95 (October 2010)


The Another Fine Mess Tent is terribly sad to announce the death of Sir Norman Wisdom at age 95. 


Official confirmation was made on Sir Norman's website which reported

"Comic actor Sir Norman Wisdom has died aged 95, his son has confirmed.

"The London-born comedian was known for his slapstick film roles in the 1950s and 1960s, famously for the character Norman Pitkin whose haplessness often frustrated boss Mr Grimsdale.

"Sir Norman had suffered a series of strokes causing a decline in his health over the past six months.

"His family said he passed away at Abbotswood nursing home on the Isle of Man on Monday.

"They said he had maintained a degree of independence but his condition declined rapidly over the past few days.

"Sir Norman was renowned for a string of comic roles and Charlie Chaplin described him as his favourite clown."


It was well known that Sir Norman was the Queen Mother's favourite comedian.


Sir Norman was also a great Laurel and Hardy fan and was tickled pink when, in the 1950s, Stan and Babe dropped into his dressing room after one of his shows to say how much they had enjoyed his performance. 


The condolences of all members of the Another Fine Mess Tent go to Sir Norman's family and friends.





A Magnificent £534 raised for Concern Worldwide (October 2010)


Following a short but hard-hitting introduction by Karen Gallagher of the Belfast Concern office, the Another Fine Mess Tent treated those present — members and non-members alike — to a rib-tickling evening.  The first film of the evening, The Live Ghost, went down really well but the level of laughter during our second choice, Busy Bodies, almost drowned out our sound system! 


We had a prolonged raffle with some great prizes — thanks to Morrison's Vivoxtra, Doc's Fish & Chip Shop, and the Pavilion as well as many individuals for their generosity — we had our toasts, which provoked some laughter when Keith temporarily forgot Fin's name mid-toast!  Then we launched into what seemed to be the highlight of the night — the society's anthem!  The laughter was explosive! 


Finally we launched into our final selection; everyone's favourite, Way Out West, and there was plenty of singing amongst the crowd when The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine blazed from the speakers. 


Keith was able to announce during the night a wonderful total of £470 but with promises from absentees that total was upped to a magnificent £534.00.


Considering that 2p can save a child's eyesight this fantastic amount will make a real difference.  Well done everyone.  We thank you all.





Charity Fundraiser for Concern Worldwide (October 2010)


The Another Fine Mess Tent is proud to have been chosen to help raise funds for a newly constituted local branch of Concern Worldwide.


We can guarantee you a wonderful night as we have carefully selected what we believe to be the very best of Laurel and Hardy films.  So be prepared to burst your gigglebox — and that's a painful but enjoyable experience! 


In addition to the films we will have some special raffles and auctions as well as a buffet, tea and coffee, wine and soft drinks!


The venue for the event is slightly different from our 'home' in the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion.  We shall be 'playing' in the Bowling Pavilion — 


Directions: As you approach the main Pavilion building you will notice a door in the hedge to your right.  When you open the door you will see a square outdoor bowling green.  Immediately to the left of that is the Bowling Pavilion.


Entrance fees are as usual: £4.00 Adults; £3.00 Children, with discounts for families of four or more and for members.  Membership is, of course, now free so you can save yourself money at the door just by signing up! 


So why not mosey-on-down to the Pavilion and enjoy yourselves while actually saving lives in the process!


To reserve a seat call either Roberta Gordon of Concern on 07905 907899 or Keith on 07782 226047.  Alternatively you can email Keith at another.finemess@tiscali.co.uk and he will email you back to confirm the booking.


We thank you.






Latest News — May 2009 


New Play in Liverpool: Stan And Babe (May 2009)


A new play by James Phillips, Stan and Babe, is to be débuted at The Casa in Liverpool on Wednesday 27th, Friday 29th and Saturday 30th May 2009.

Stan Laurel and Oliver 'Babe' Hardy have brought comfort, joy and laughter for almost a century.  Their unpretentious genius has been a source of inspirations to millions.


But to Ken and Billy Clayton, preserving the memory of 'The Boys' has become their only hope of solace in a world they no longer understand.  A world they have, rather foolishly, invited around to judge them one last time...


Like W.C. Theatre Company's previous productions 'Fear and Loathing in Liscard and Vegas' (2007) and 'Scolnus: Founder of America' (2008), 'Stan and Babe' explores the struggle between powerless individuals and an unfeeling society.


Tickets cost £8.00 and £5.00 (concessions).  They can be obtained in person at The Casa (info on 0151 709 2148), 29 Hope Street, Liverpool L1 9BQ, or from Usher Travel Service (call 0151 638 5926), 27 Wallasey Road, Liscard — all major credit cards accepted, postage service unavailable. 






Latest News — March 2009 


Campaign to get Laurel and Hardy back on TV — Please sign our petitions now! (March 2009)


The Another Fine Mess Tent has begun online petitions to try to get Laurel and Hardy back on TV both in the UK and internationally. 


We urge everyone to visit the site http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/25788.html and sign our petition in the hope that TV executives will wake up and get the boys back on our screens!


In fact PLEASE get all your friends and work colleagues to sign the petitions too.


We thank you!


B.S.  The international petition is at http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/25786.html so why not take a couple of minutes and sign both...!





The North West Evening Mail wants to hear from all Stan fans (March 2009)

The paper reports on 31 March 2009...

A STATUE of Ulverston-born comedy great Stan Laurel and his Hollywood movie partner Oliver Hardy will be unveiled in his home town on Sunday April 19.

The day before will be Love Stan day in the Evening Mail as a special Memories supplement will be devoted to Stan and will include a full programme of events leading up to the official unveiling by Ken Dodd.

Most of you will have seen the classic pictures of Stan returning to Ulverston as part of a British tour with Ollie in 1947.

If you were there on that historic day we would like to here from you.

Perhaps you have travelled with world with the Stan Laurel fan club – Sons of the Desert. Share your experiences with the Memories Page.

Along with Superman and the naughty nurse, Stan must be among the world’s most asked-for fancy dress outfit. Why not send in a picture of your attempt to look like Stan.

Has your family tree research thrown up likes [sic — we assume "links"] to the Laurel family. Get in touch with Bill Myers with your findings.





By (Mac)George...Stan Laurel in the 21st century? (March 2009)


We were surfing recently and encountered an astounding image on http://bereftontheleft.blogspot.com .  It seems to show Stan Laurel in the 21st century...!


The accompanying narrative, however, explains


"The ghost of Stan Laurel? No, it's the talented comedian and voice artist ("Beanie & Cecil"), Jim MacGeorge.  The longtime Yarmyite has appeared in TV commercials (Aamco Windshield Wipers) and onstage as Laurel (partnered with Chuck McCann's Oliver Hardy.)  He often performs for the ultra-exclusive Bohemian Club." 


We have to say...by MacGeorge, he sure had us fooled! 





Coy Watson Jnr. dies at age 96 (March 2009)


Carol Rugh has forwarded an email from Rich Finegan, which includes a lengthy report from the Los Angeles Times about the death of Coy Watson Jnr. 


Rich Finegan says about the report:

"I thought you may find this news to be of interest. Coy Watson had a slight Laurel & Hardy connection. You may recall that series of short films that AMC used to run in the early 1990's called the Johnson-Watson Hollywood Reel. One was called "Close Ups and Long Shots" and covered Stan Laurel judging a childrens' swimming contest. Although this obit says those films were made in 1949 and 1950 the date on the films said 1951."


Coy Watson Jr. dies at 96; one of nine silent-era sibling actors Los Angeles Times

By Valerie J. Nelson, March 16, 2009

Coy Watson Jr., who was the eldest in a family of nine child actors and whose book, "The Keystone Kid," recounted a silent-film career that began in 1913, has died. He was 96.

Watson, who became a news photographer and television cameraman, died Saturday of complications from stomach cancer in Alpine, Calif., where he lived, his nephew Daniel Watson said.

By the late 1930s, Watson and his eight siblings had appeared in more than 1,000 movies. Their careers were almost an accident of geography because their family home was in Edendale, an early movie-studio enclave north of the Echo Park lake.

Mack Sennett Studios was nearby and three other studios filled out the movie colony. When Selig studios came calling, Watson -- who was born Nov. 16, 1912 -- was 9 months old.

The studio needed a baby for a short film, "The Price of Silence," and promised to pay the infant $5 for a day's work. Because the Edendale neighborhood was not yet wired for electricity, his scene was shot on a bedroom set built to take advantage of the sun.

James Caughey "Coy" Watson Jr. would go on to appear in so many of Sennett's Keystone Cops comedies that he earned a nickname: "the Keystone Kid."

By the time he was 18, Watson had made about 60 motion pictures, including "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1923) with Lon Chaney, "Buttons" (1927) with Jackie Coogan and "Show People" (1928) with Marion Davies.

His father, Coy Watson Sr., broke horses for cowboy stars and created special effects, notably the flying carpet Douglas Fairbanks used in the 1924 film "The Thief of Bagdad." Eventually, Watson's father gave up his career to manage those of his six sons and three daughters.

When a director would say, "I need a child for a movie. Do you have one?" the senior Watson was said to respond: "What size and what sex?"

In "The Keystone Kid," the junior Watson wrote of a childhood spent watching cowboys congregate on a street corner, hoping to get work. He recalled actress Gloria Swanson stopping in at the family home to iron her skirt between scenes and building a treehouse with his best friend on the Sennett lot.

"Acting to our family was not a business," Watson told the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2002. "It was our life. We never knew anything but the movies."

Watson's mother, Golda, washed and ironed actors' costumes. His brother Delmar was Shirley Temple's goat-herding friend in "Heidi" (1937). Delmar and three other Watsons played sons of Jimmy Stewart in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939). His brother Bobs, who had an MGM contract, was the endearing Pee Wee in "Boys Town" (1938) with Spencer Tracy.

After talkies came into vogue, Watson had parts in several more films.  But the boy who made 13 movies in 1927 no longer enjoyed the process.

The advent of sound in films "scared the dickens out of everybody," Watson said in the 2002 Union-Tribune interview. "We used to have fun making pictures. But when sound came in you couldn't drop a pin."

He turned to another family business -- photography -- that he first discovered in a class held by the Boy Scouts.

His grandfather, James Watson, shot pictures of Buffalo Bill riding up Broadway in 1904. His uncle, George Watson, was hired as The Times' first full-time news photographer in 1917 and later founded Acme News Pictures, a forerunner of United Press Photos and training ground for the Watson boys.

In junior high, Coy built a darkroom at home and "made a few nickels and dimes" taking photographs of his classmates, he later said. After graduating from high school, he joined the Pacific and Atlantic photo news service.

In 1932, he covered the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles for Acme and photographed future president Franklin D. Roosevelt's visit to the city the same year.

In the ensuing years, Watson took pictures for a number of newspapers that have long since vanished. His photographs also appeared in The Times.

During World War II, he was one of four Watson brothers to serve as a Coast Guard cameraman, running a Coast Guard photography unit in San Diego.

All six brothers worked as press, newsreel or television photographers after the war. Watson became a cameraman for KTLA Channel 5 and for CBS on the West Coast. He also spent time at ABC and KCRA-TV in Sacramento, according to a family biography.

With Erskine Johnson, an actor who wrote a Hollywood column for the Daily News, Watson made “Hollywood Reel.” The television program, filmed in 1949 and 1950, featured dozens of interviews with celebrities.

Of a life spent on both sides of the camera, Watson once said, "The motion picture business was something that if you liked it, it was your life. And that's the way it was with me."

His brother Delmar, who founded the Watson Family Photographic Archive that oversees the family's trove of photos, died in October at 82.

Three of the Watson siblings survive: Louise Roberts, 89, Billy Watson, 85, and Garry Watson, 80.

Coy Watson Jr. is also survived by his wife, Willie; a daughter, Pattie Watson Price of Alpine; a son, James Caughey "Jim" Watson III of Perth, Australia; three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Services will be private.





New Home Secured for Ulverston's Laurel and Hardy Museum (March 2009)

THE new town centre home of Ulverston’s famed Laurel and Hardy Museum has been revealed.

NEW USE: The Roxy site in Ulverston

The attraction is set to move to a space within the Roxy, in Brogden Street, this month.

The move was announced at a meeting of the licensing committee yesterday when proposals to transform the Art Deco building into an arts and entertainment centre were given the seal of approval.

Museum owner, Marion Grave, hopes to start a new chapter on the museum dedicated to the lives of the silver-screen comedy duo by opening the doors to the public on April 1. Mrs Grave, whose father started the museum in Upper Brooke Street more than 30 years ago, described the move as fate.

She said: “Everything just seems to have fallen into place. We had searched for new premises in the town for years but there was nothing big enough that we could afford.

“We had just about reached the point of despair when we were offered the chance to move into the Roxy and we seized it.”

The museum will form just one part of the new Roxy Arts and Entertainment Centre – granted a premises license after a mammoth four-hour meeting at the CoronationHall.

The venue will also provide a 400-capacity events hall, cafe bar and gallery space for contemporary and local artists.

The mastermind behind the venture, Gary Robinson, owner of Barrow Island’s Canteen Media and Arts Centre, said he now hoped to attract international acts, well-known stand-up comedians and live bands to Ulverston.

Ulverston town centre resident Mr Robinson, 39, said it had been a “great day for Ulverston”.

He said: “We got what we asked for and people have taken what we said seriously. We want to operate the Roxy in a similar way to The Brewery in Kendal – with a mix of entertainment and arts.

“We have listened to people’s concerns and the proof will now be in the pudding. There’s now a responsibility on the people of Ulverston who said they wanted this. They need to enjoy the entertainment at the centre and the area responsibly and I think they will.”

It is planned the new centre will open at Easter.

The new licence for The Roxy means it can open until 1.30am between Monday and Thursday, until 3.30am on Fridays and Saturdays and until 12.30am on Sundays.

Nearby residents presented a raft of objections to the late hours – stating they were concerned it would result in late night anti-social behaviour and disruption in the town.

Christopher Stones, of Princes Street, said a “Buffers situation” would be intolerable.

He told the meeting: “I respect Mr Robinson’s ambition for this centre. But a lot of resident’s lives have been transformed since Buffers closed. We are entitled to live in peace and security in our own homes.”

Note: The UK Convention is being partly run by Ulverston's Berth Marks Tent, and the new museum is one of the many exciting places that Sons will visit.  If you haven't yet booked click here for further information about the event. 





Babes In Waltland (March 2009)


Gino Dercola forwarded an interesting article sent to him by Flip Lauer from Ohio about the making of the Walt Disney version of Victor Herbert's operetta, Babes In Toyland.  It is well worth the investment of a couple of minutes...fascinating...!  Click here.





Plug pulled on Hospital for Hollywood Actors (March 2009)


Carol Rugh has sent us the following article:

Hollywood pulling plug on hospital for its own

The Associated Press
Friday, March 6, 2009; 3:10 PM

LOS ANGELES -- In 1940, Hollywood humanitarian Jean Hersholt purchased 48 acres of walnut and orange groves in the far reaches of the San Fernando Valley for a hospital to be run by the Motion Picture Relief Fund.

Hersholt, a popular character actor of the day, was president of the fund, which had been founded 20 years earlier by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and others to aid needy members of the film industry.

After a delay caused by World War II, the Woodland Hills hospital was finally completed in 1948. Among those attending the opening ceremonies were Robert Young, Shirley Temple, Ronald Reagan and Hersholt, who is probably best known today as the namesake of a special Oscar recognizing charitable work _ most recently given to Jerry Lewis.

For the next 60 years, the hospital provided treatment for stars and janitors, directors and secretaries. Those who could afford to pay their way _ such as Norma Shearer _ did so. Those who were broke _ and there were many in the topsy-turvy film industry _ were taken care of.

Now, Hollywood has been shocked with news that the hospital itself is passing away, a victim of red ink and an ailing economy.

"We studied the problem for three years," says Ken Scherer, president of what is now the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation. "We found that we had an operating deficit of $10 million a year.

"We reached the conclusion that the best thing to do was to take some of those dollars and invest them in programs that would reach more people. The aging population wants to live in their own homes and not come to the Motion Picture and Television Fund."

Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation chief and chairman of the MPTF's foundation board, said the deficit would have bankrupted the fund in "a very few years."

Reports of the closure, which will displace more than 100 long-term patients and eliminate some 300 jobs by the time it's complete at the end of the year, sparked a recent picket line of 200 people at the MPTF's nearby headquarters. Among the protesters was John Schneider of "Smallville" and "Dukes of Hazzard" fame.

"Many people look forward to coming here and I am one of them," Schneider said. "This decision was indeed a fiscal decision. We didn't lose the debate. We weren't even invited to the debate."

Along with anger, the impending closure has also inspired nostalgia among the film crowd. Walter Seltzer, movie producer and longtime member of the MPTF's board of directors, tells the saga of Johnny Weissmuller, greatest of the Tarzans:

"When Weissmuller was in the hospital, other patients complained because he was yelling (the Tarzan yell) in the hallways. It got so bad that we had to remove him. We found a place for him and his wife in Mexico near Acapulco, which was where Johnny wanted to be. We sent people down there several times a year to make sure he was all right." Weissmuller died in 1984.

Seltzer recalled that actress Mary Astor rode a bicycle around the premises and was aloof. Her only companion was actor House Peters and she insisted on having their own table in the dining room.

Seltzer also remembered the story of Chester Conklin, a pioneer comedian who worked with Charlie Chaplin and W.C. Fields:

"When he lived at the home, Chester had a hobby of making beautiful jewelry which he advertised. One rich lady in the Midwest bought a lot of them, and she came to California to meet him. They fell in love and married, and he lived with her until he died in 1971."





Book on Charlie Hall by the Nutty Nut News Network's own Dean McKeown (March 2009)

The Nutty Nut News Network's very own Dean McKeown has sent us the following information about his new book:

I have published a new book called The Charlie Hall Picture Archive,
details below, for further information please visit http://www.charliehallpicturearchive.com

The Charlie Hall Picture Archive is a unique book for all fans of Charlie Hall and Laurel and Hardy.  The book features over two hundred and ten images, many of which have never been published and has sections covering Charlie Hall,  his family and the places they visited, his cars, the studio set up in Hollywood (with a section dedicated to Hal Roach) and the stars of the time (including Mary Pickford and Mabel Normand).  There are numerous mini biographies of Charlie's co-stars and the book closes with a sixty five page chapter relating to Charlie Hall's film stills with in depth synopsis of some of his films.  Where possible Charlie's own words have been used.

The book is slightly smaller than A4, has 178 pages in total and close to 17,000 words.  The book was written by the Nutty Nut News Network's very own Dean McKeown and edited by Maria Cairney, the foreword was written by Willie McIntyre.

Foreword xi
1.    Introduction page 1
2.    Charlie Hall page 4
3.    Meet The Family page 15
4.    A Man And His Cars page 37
5.    Out On Location page 44
6.    Studios And Stars page 71
7.    Charlie’s Film Stills page 95
8.    Filmography page 161
9.    Appendix page 165

You can read all about it on www.charliehallpicturearchive.com.  There is even a video presentation on YouTube.

And don't miss out on a splendid collection of Charlie Hall postcards.

Here is what Willie McIntyre has to say about the book:
'I don't think I am overstating the case when I say that this is one of the most exciting books ever to have been written by a Son of the Desert. There has never been anything quite like this before! Very skilfully compiled by Dean McKeown, it takes you right into Charlie's personal life and work in a way which leaves you feeling you have finally got to know that little chap from Birmingham.'

Fraternally Yours,

Dean McKeown





Saturday 5 June 2010


Our next meeting will celebrate the notional 120th birthday of our great hero, Mr Stanley Laurel.  We promise a truly great line-up of films relecting the great legacy left us by Stan.   


The meeting will take place on Saturday 5 June 2010 at the Pavilion


It promises to be another fine meeting and we'll have what has become a regular feature, some fun and games during our interval!


Membership is now FREE, and members get discount on entry to tent meetings with additional discount for children and even further discount for families of 4 or more!


So, since there is no reason not to mosey on down to the Pavilion, we look forward to seeing you there.  Oh yes...and don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues!


We Thank You!





Latest News — February 2009 


Membership of the Another Fine Mess Tent of Northern Ireland  (February 2009)


We are delighted to announce that membership of the Another Fine Mess Tent of Northern Ireland is now FREE...!


How can we do this?  Well, it's simple, our tent magazine is moving to a new format...from now on it will be an electronic magazine available to all members by email.  Those who don't have access to the internet may opt to have the magazine sent to them by post for a small charge. 


Even though membership is FREE, members will still be granted reduced entrance fees to meetings, and so there has never been a better time to join...!  So if you are interested click here -- become a 'messer' today, we know you'll never regret it!





Latest News — January 2009 


Identification of Movie-still  (January 2009)


One of our regular contributors, Carol Rugh, Grand Vizier, One Good Turn Tent, Connecticut, Oasis #156, has asked for help in identifying a movie still featuring Oliver Hardy and a radio.  She says


"An acquaintance recently passed along a lovely copy of this movie still saying he wasn’t sure what movie it was from.  My guess is Hog Wild.  But I haven’t seen this one before.  Anyone?"


Our guess is Hog Wild too -- you know, the one where Stan and Babe try to erect an aerial for the radio on the roof of Babe's home with disastrous consequences -- but perhaps someone out there has specific information on this still.  Help, please?


[Ed: If anyone has any information please pass it along to us at the following address and we will forward it to Carol -- grandsheik@anotherfinesite.com]



Answer: Carol has replied as follows:

Thanks to all the eagle eyes who replied to my query.  The Finishing Touch is the answer.  Lou Sabini notes that there is a companion photo of Stan and Ollie together with the radio.  Anyone have that?

Member Irv Hyatt has added:

...the photo of Babe with the radio was used as a chapter frontpage in the American version of the book that went with Kevin Brownlow's book that came out on his 9 part Hollywood series.  If you look at Babe's best, and the background images, you can compare it with how he looked in "The Finishing Touch".  It might have been a publicity photo for the film, or an actual advert for the radio.  Whichever it was, it was taken at the location of that film.






Search for silent Oliver Hardy film  (January 2009)


Our roving US reporter, Gino Dercola, has asked for some help in locating an early Oliver Hardy film.  He says:


Sons: I received the following question/request from Professor Bob Wilson, the Oliver Hardy historian from Milledgeville, Georgia, where Ollie grew up during his formative years.  If anyone can provide any information, please let me know and I will forward it to Bob and share it with other Sons.  Please pass this request along to other Sons.  Thanks.



Do you know if a Lubin Film called "Back to the Farm" with Oliver Hardy in the cast has survived and might be purchased in some collection?



Gino Dercola

Any Old Port Tent - Oasis 212

Baltimore, Maryland


[Ed: If anyone has any information please pass it along to us at the following address and we will forward it to Gino -- grandsheik@anotherfinesite.com]





Vote for Laurel and Hardy -- Gino Dercola  (January 2009)


Sons:  There is a TV special that begins airing tonight in the USA called "Make 'em Laugh: The Funny Business of America". It will appear at 8:00 EST on public broadcasting stations (PBS).  It airs in two-hour increments on Wednesdays over three weeks (six hours total).  There are numerous comedians it will feature, with Laurel and Hardy being one pair (I do not know anything more than that about their appearance). 
AND, I would like to point this out to fellow Sons:  There is a PBS website that mentions this program, AND on the right side of that page it lists comedians where you can vote for your favorite, including L&H.   May I suggest that Sons everywhere go to that site and place your vote for the Boys.  There is a running tally that shows how many votes are being cast for each comedian.  The site is:
Gino Dercola
Any Old Port Tent - Oasis 212
Baltimore, Maryland


[Ed: Come on Sons, as at 20 January 2009, Laurel and Hardy are in fifth place behind: 1. George Carlin; 2. Bill Cosby; 3. Marx Brothers; and 4. Rodney Dangerfield...so get voting!]


[Update: As at 22 March 2009, Laurel and Hardy have now fallen to seventh place, so get those votes in now! — 1. George Carlin (1521); 2. Marx Brothers (969); 3. Bill Cosby (831); 4. Charlie Chaplin (406); 5. Three Stooges (400); 6. Rodney Dangerfield (386); 7. Laurel and Hardy (368)]





Latest News — 2008 


One Night Stan  (November 2008)


On 7 November 2008 Keith and Gerry travelled to Liverpool, England, in order to see a play that received rave reviews after its appearance at the Edinburgh Festival last year.


The play is called One Night Stan and it was written and performed by actor/writer Miles Gallant.  It sees Stan Laurel in his dressing room just before a show in which he will appear without Babe who has taken ill, and he reminisces about his career and debates whether he should go on stage without his partner. 


This is an excellent production and Keith & Gerry would urge all Sons to make an effort to attend it at some future showing. 


Miles' website is at http://www.onenightstan.co.uk/index.html


For a full report on our visit please click here, and/or to view our photos please visit our gallery or click here






Delmar Watson, of Our Gang fame, dies at age 82   (October 2008)

It has been announced that a former member of Our Gang has passed away at the age of 82. 

David Delmar Watson was born in Los Angeles, California, on 1 July 1926.  His first on-screen appearance was in as a 'Mactavish Child' in Taxi 13, which was made in 1928.  He appeared in 65 films between 1928 and 1947, but his appearances were largely uncredited. 

It is for his work at Hal Roach studios, and especially as a member of the Our Gang crew, for which Delmar will be best remembered by Laurel and Hardy fans.  His Our Gang appearances included: Shrimps For A Day, The Pinch Singer and Our Gang Follies Of 1936.

Delmar's death was announced to the Laurel and Hardy world by Stan Taffel, Grand Sheik of the Hollywood Party Tent of San Fernando Valley.  He said:

"Delmar...died last Sunday.

A memorial service will take place in Hollywood after the funeral this Sunday [2 November 2008].

Delmar was one of the members of the Watson Family, a talented bunch that began in silent films and went right on through the talkies.  They worked at almost every studio including [the] Hal Roach [Studios].

In knowing him over the years, I can tell you that he was a joy to be with.  In recent months he battled with cancer.

At your next Sons meetings, how about a toast to one of the "Gang"."

Hear, hear...! 

R.I.P. Delmar.





Meeting at The Tudor


Our next meeting date is on Wednesday 5 November 2008 at the Tudor cinema — see below


We shall have, for your delectation, a programme of seasonally-appropriate films guaranteed to tickle your fancy (told you it would be fun...it's not every day you get your fancy tickled!). 


The programme is:


Grand Sheik’s Welcome   


The Live Ghost (7.40pm)


Habeus Corpus (8.05pm)

[80th Anniversary on 1 December 2008]


Intermission (8.30pm)

Members’ FREE draw (8.50pm);

Raffle, Toasts, Song etc.  (9.00pm)


Surprise, surprise…! (9.15pm)


The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case (9.55pm)


Goodbyyeee (10.30pm)


[Note: Timings shown are approximations only]


Please note: The Tudor cinema's house rules (for insurance reasons) dictate that this event is for those over the age of 14 only.  Please respect this requirement. 


For directions to the Tudor cinema please click here.


Our usual meeting place is the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion, which is a child-friendly venue — click here for further details.


If you'd like to join our merry band then there's no better time than the present.  Membership is only £10 for the year and £8.00 for children under 18.  There are mid-year pro-rata rates which you can find by clicking here, then click on the link 'Fees'.  For your subs you receive many discounts as well as a 16 page quarterly magazine, which is professionally printed, and which has been lauded by many eminent Laurel and Hardy fans from far and wide.  Interested?  If so here's a link to our web application form...



Why not give us a try?  We know you'll enjoy it!


So, as Stan would have said, "Recomember, recomember the 5th of November!".  We look forward to seeing you at the Tudor.  Oh yes...and don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues!


We Thank You!





The Nutty Nut News Network (June 2008)


We are delighted to announce an exciting new website dedicated, like the Laurel and Hardy Forum, to keeping Sons in touch with all that's interesting in the world of Laurel and Hardy. 


This website builds upon the forum and differs in that it offers visitors the opportunity to listen to interviews conducted with all sorts of people from around the world.  Many of the interviews are old but there are also recent interviews — including one with our own Jean Darling — and lots of other interesting information. 


The network was conceived in the 1980s by the late Guido Cipriani, Grand Sheik of the From Soup to Nuts Tent in Norwich, Connecticut, USA.  He invited the submission of audiocassettes from Sons around the world, edited them together, adding music and features, and distributed the finished article three or four times per year, for no other reason than to help keep Sons in touch. 


With the advent of the internet, the website seeks to resurrect the idea in an interactive format, and Sons around the world are invited to send information and news stories to the sites webmasters at newsstory@nuttynutnewsnetwork.com


This is a site that you simply must visit, but make sure that you've plenty of free time!





Latest News — 2007 


Raffle in aid of the Laurel and Hardy Statue Appeal (November 2007)

Our good friend, John Ullah, has been instrumental in raising funds for the Sons of the Desert sponsored bronze statue of the boys, which will, when finished, be erected outside the Town Hall in Ulverston, the place of Stan Laurel's birth. 

John's latest venture is the raffle of a beautiful oil painting by a local artist (see Mandy Finney (right) with the painting).  He says...

"This is your chance to win a one-off painting (below). This original oil-on-canvas painting of the Boys, by Birmingham artist Caroline Scotcher, is to be raffled in aid of the Statue Appeal. Tickets are just £1 each and can be obtained from the Laughing Gravy Tent of Birmingham. The draw will be made on Thursday 6th December at our tent meeting. Please let me know if you would like any tickets.

Also, if you have a tent meeting before then, could you please ask your members if they would like to take part? I will enter their names on your behalf. Please note, to keep costs down, no tickets will be sent out. You can send your cheques, made payable to "Laughing Gravy", to John Ullah, 42 York Road, Erdington, Birmingham B23 6TG.

It really is a superb painting and I would like to thank Caroline for her kind donation. Good luck!"

If any Another Fine Mess tent members are interested please send the money to Keith and we shall ensure that you receive your raffle ticket numbers before the draw.  (You could pay for them at our meeting on 1 December if that is convenient.)

We hope that John manages to raise a substantial sum.





Death of Joey Bishop (October 2007)


US Tent member, Gino Dercola, reported that comedian, Joey Bishop — a former member of The Rat Pack (along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jnr., and Peter Lawford) — died on 17 October. 


The lengthy obituary in the Washington Post on 19 October stated "His low-key style resembled that of Jack Benny, and he won early praise from no less an authority than Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy".  High praise indeed.





Death of Marcel Marceau (September 2007)


Sadly the brilliant French mime artist, Marcel Marceau, who was born on 22 March 1923, died on 22 September 2007, at the age of exactly 84½ years. 


Marcel was not just a mime artist; he was the very best in his field.  It was a skill similar to the skills employed by good silent stars who had to tell a story without sound. 


He was a great fan of, and inspired by, the best silent clowns in the early days of movie making, including Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Stan Laurel. 




Another Fine Gazette

Issue six of the Another Fine Mess Tent of Northern Ireland's magazine "Another Fine Gazette" has been issued to members and is available to non-Members for the bargain price of £1.50 (plus p&p — the magazine is available worldwide so please contact us about postage charges).  The magazine boasts 16 cram-packed pages of articles about 'the boys' and their foils.  Our competitions have become popular with readers, and they give us the opportunity to give out some very nice prizes!  Recomember, if you're not in you can't win! 

Another Fine Gazette

Issue 7 has now gone to press and we are gathering material for Issue 8.  If you have any material for us we would be delighted to hear from you.  Any articles for inclusion should be with Keith or Gerry as soon as possible but no later than Wednesday 28 February 2007 (although if they're late they can always be squeezed-in or held for the next issue!). 

If any of you can be persuaded to have your 15 minutes of fame via subjecting yourselves to questions from your Grand and Vice Sheiks (we might even let you see the list of questions in advance), with the article being published in 'Another Fine Gazette' please let Keith or Gerry know.  Who knows, you could be in edition 8 !  Wouldn't it be nice to appear in such a highly rejected...sorry I mean 'respected' magazine?  Something to keep for the grandkids perhaps?





Meeting Dates 


2011 Meeting Dates


We have secured our meeting dates for 2011.  As usual the meetings will take place at the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion (known colloquially as 'The Pavilion').  Set within Stormont's magnificent grounds the building overlooks the international cricket pitch.  For further information about the venue click here, and/or for information about how to get there click here.


Our 2011 meeting dates are:


Saturday 5 March 2011


Saturday 11 June 2011


Saturday 17 September 2011


Saturday 26 November 2011


We look forward to seeing you there!







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