Laurel and Hardy Society Sons of the Desert Way Out West Tent Los Angeles
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The Brushwood Gulch Gazette is the newsletter of the Way Out West Tent. It is published six times a year, shortly before regular tent meetings. Members receive the complete printed edition in the mail. The online edition features most of the articles found in the printed version, minus photos.

Thelma Todd Night at the Way Out West tent April 28th

We will honor Thelma Todd at the Mayflower Club on Tuesday, April 28th. The film program for the evening will include two Laurel & Hardy shorts and one Charley Chase short that all feature Thelma, plus one short that stars Thelma and ZaSu Pitts.

We'll start off with Another Fine Mess (1930). While the Buckshot mansion is vacated, vagrants Stan & Ollie evade a policeman by hiding in the mansion's cellar. When Lord Plumtree (Charles Gerrard) and Lady Plumtree (Thelma) inquire about renting the mansion, Ollie finds himself posing as Colonel Buckshot and Stan as both Hives the butler and Agnes the maid. The real Colonel Buckshot is played by James Finlayson.

In the Charley Chase short The Pip from Pittsburg (1931), Charley is persuaded by a friend into going on yet another blind date. Having been burned in the past with terrible blind dates, Charley decides to be a terrible date himself by not shaving, dressing in an old suit, and eating garlic all day before the date. Unfortunately for Charley, his blind date this time turns out to be beautiful Thelma Todd.

Everything seems to be going swell for Ollie in Chickens Come Home (1931). He has a beautiful wife (Thelma), a successful business with his best friend Stan, and he is running for mayor. But then Ollie's old girlfriend (Mae Busch) shows up.

Thelma teams up with ZuSu Pitts, in On the Loose (1931), to play two bored single women who are tired of all their dates taking them to Coney Island. But the two new Englishman that they meet seem to be different. Watch for longtime Way Out West celebrity member, Buddy MacDonald, as "the kid with the sucker" and be prepared for a surprise ending!

The Mayflower Club is located in North Hollywood at 11110 Victory Boulevard. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M. and our meeting will begin at 7:15 P.M. "Fisher Frank" hot dogs and assorted chips will be on sale at the Mayflower Club Kitchen. Drinks of your choice will be sold at the Mayflower Club Bar. Free cake will be served during our second break. Laurel & Hardy memorabilia will be on sale at our dealer's table. Join us Tuesday April 28th for Thelma Todd Night.

Click here for a map to the Mayflower Club...

Transition to Sound at Hollywood Heritage

On May 13th at 7:30 p.m., Way Out West's Keeper of the Celluloid, Stan Taffel, will be hosting "Laurel & Hardy 80th Anniversary: The Transition to Sound." The film program will be screened at the Hollywood Heritage Museum in the Lasky-DeMille Barn, located at 2100 N. Highland Avenue (across from the Hollywood Bowl). Admission is $5.00 for members of Hollywood Heritage ($8.00 for non-members) and parking is free. For a list of the films go to:

Evans and Rogers at the Mayflower Club

Sharon Evans and Rick Rogers return to the Mayflower Club on Friday April 24th with their own unique Vaudeville show. Magic Castle magician Sheyn Fargesn will join them. Tickets in advance are $18.00 each ($20.00 at the door). For their May show, 60's British rock star Ian Whitcomb will join Sharon and Rick. Call the Mayflower Club at (818) 769-9805 for reservations or for more information.

Notes from our March Meeting

A very enthusiastic audience joined us at our March 24th meeting. Grand Sheik Jimmy Wiley Jr. was joined by Jayne Barnhart, Stan Taffel, Randy Johnson, Vice-Sheik Bob Duncan, Ken Runyan, Dave Spahn, and Chris Spicher in doing the Sons of the Desert Song and the toasts. To decide who our members favorite landlord or landlady in a Laurel & Hardy film, we passed out ballots to everyone attending the meeting. After the meeting we counted up the ballots. Just like most elections, more than half of those eligible to vote did not and one member voted for all the people on the ballot. But since there were no "hanging chads," it wasn't too hard to count the ballots. Out of 35 ballots submitted, the winner was Billy Gilbert. At a very close second was Charlie Hall. Our films for the meeting were: You're Darn Tootin', Angora Love, Laughing Gravy (including a reel in Spanish from Los Calaveras), and The Chimp.

From the Grand Sheik - What if? Maybe?

As I was writing this newsletter, thinking about Thelma Todd, my mind began playing games of "what ifs" and "maybes." What if, in 1936, Thelma had not tragically died at the age of thirty, but instead had found the love of her life, settled down and married and maybe even taken a break from her film career to raise a family. What if then she returned to her film career in the 1940's, to maybe make a couple more films with Stan & Babe and maybe some more films with Groucho, Chico, and Harpo. Maybe she could have acted with W.C. Fields in one of his Universal Studios films. In the early 1950's, what if Thelma had turned to television, Thelma would have only been in her mid-forties. In television, maybe Thelma could have been Vern Albright's (Charles Farrell's) girl friend in My Little Margie (Gale Storm) . After all, My Little Margie was filmed at the Hal Roach studios. Maybe Thelma could have been one of Lucy's (Lucille Ball's) other friends in I Love Lucy. Ethel (Vivian Vance) was only four years younger than Thelma.

What if Thelma had continued living in Southern California, then she would have been available to be a guest at Way Out West meetings. In 1967, our first year as a tent, Thelma would have been just sixty two years old. Think of all the stories she could have told and all the questions she could have answered at our meetings about working with Stan & Babe, Charley Chase, and the regular supporting actors and actresses at the Hal Roach Studios. In the seventies, when college students in America rediscovered Laurel & Hardy and the Marx Brothers, Thelma would have also been rediscovered. What an interesting and popular book she could have written about her life and her film career. When Way Out West hosted the 1980 International Sons of the Desert Convention, Thelma would have just been turning seventy five. Randy Skretvedt's college film project that we enjoyed last year would probably have also included Thelma Todd along with Anita Garvin. We maybe then could screen Randy's interview of Thelma at our upcoming meeting. What if? Maybe?

2010 International Convention Registration

Registration forms are now available for the next International Sons of the Desert Convention. The event will take place in Sacramento, California, June 17-20, 2010. There will also be two optional pre-convention tours on June 14 and 15. For more information, please see:

Laurel & Hardy Statue Unveiled

For well over a decade, members of the Sons of the Desert in the United Kingdom have raised funds in order to place a statue of Laurel & Hardy in Stan's hometown. Many members of the Sons from around the world have contributed. They have now completed the project, raising over £60,000. The statue was unveiled in Ulverston, England, on April 19th.