Tuesday, May 16, 2017

'A' list celebrities support Airdrie's Diamond Sensory Room

To help fund a sensory room at Airdrieonians FC's Excelsior stadium to benefit local kids including my own son, I've called in the help of some of my celebrity friends and acquaintances who have signed Airdrie FC shirts for us. 

Airdrie are the first football club in Scotland to install a sensory room at their stadium for home games which will allow children with sensory process disorders - such as autism - to attend matches in comfort.

Top names who've already signed Airdrie jerseys include Ricky Gervais, Mark Hamill, William Shatner and Tom Hanks.


TOTAL RAISED FROM SIGNED JERSEYS SO FAR...
£5490

These auctions have sent us well on the way to reaching our £10,000 target. 

Airdrie Supporters Trust are sponsors of The Ross Owen Show.


Ricky Gervais' autograph raised £620 in auction
Daily Record Article



William Shatner's autograph raised £740 in auction
Daily Record Article



Mark Hamill's autograph raised £1000 in auction
Daily Record Article


Tom Hanks' autograph raised £1280 in auction
Daily Record Article



Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest raised £1230 in auction
Daily Record Article


Monty Python star Eric Idle's signature raised £445 in auction
Daily Record Article


COMING SOON

AIRDRIE TOP SIGNED BY VINNIE JONES 


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

UPDATE: Laurel and Hardy Biopic To Start Shooting in March. International Release Set for 2018.


Larry Harmon Pictures has licensed the Laurel and Hardy feature film rights to Faye Ward’s Fable Pictures, Jeff Pope’s Sonesta Films and BBC Films.

Together the trio will be producing a Stan and Ollie original movie, based on one of the world’s most loved comedy duos. Steve Coogan will play Stan Laurel and John C Reilly will play Oliver Hardy.

‘Inspired by actual events, Stan and Ollie is billed as an emotional tribute to two of the funniest men in movie history,’ read a statement from Larry Harmon Pictures.

The film is slated to begin production in March this year in the UK with an international release slated for early 2018.

More info here > Laurel and Hardy Biopic Cast Revealed
http://rossowen.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/laurel-and-hardy-biopic.html

Monday, January 18, 2016

Laurel and Hardy Biopic Cast Revealed

LAUREL AND HARDY BIOPIC 'STAN AND OLLIE'

Steve Coogan will play Stan Laurel and John C Reilly will play Oliver Hardy.





Writer Jeff Pope
Director Jon S Baird
Producer Faye Ward

A Fable Pictures and Sonesta Films production, developed with BBC Films.

Stan and Ollie
A gripping story of the world renowned comedy duo Laurel & Hardy as they embark on their final UK tour in 1953

Faye Ward’s Fable Pictures, Jeff Pope’s Sonesta Films and BBC Films are delighted to announce Stan & Ollie – an original film based on one of the worlds most loved comedy duos and geniuses of their time - Laurel and Hardy. Inspired by actual events, Stan & Ollie, is an emotional tribute to two of the funniest men in movie history.

Penned by award winning screenwriter Jeff Pope (Philomena, Mrs Biggs) and directed by Jon S. Baird (Vinyl, Filth), Stan & Ollie stars stellar lead actors Steve Coogan (Philomena, Alan Partridge) as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly (Chicago, We Need to Talk About Kevin) as Oliver Hardy. Developed by BBC Films, Stan & Ollie celebrates the duo’s unique friendship and legendary working partnership. The rights to the work of Laurel and Hardy has been licensed by Larry Harmon Pictures Corporation.

Jeff Pope, screenwriter says: “Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are my heroes. When I watch their movies, in my head it is forever a Saturday morning and I am six years old watching the TV at home utterly spellbound. I am aware of the huge responsibility of bringing their characters to life, but I have not treated the boys with kid gloves or looked at them through rose coloured specs. They are living and breathing characters, with flaws and shortcomings. The research into this story threw up so many details and facts that I had no idea about. But everything I have done has come from a place of love and more than anything else I hope this shines through.”

Pictured below: Laurel and Hardy in their dressing room at the Newcastle Empire in 1953



Christine Langan, Head of BBC Films adds: “John C Reilly and Steve Coogan are dream casting for ‘Stan & Ollie’, bringing to life with uncanny accuracy and irresistible gusto the genius creative marriage that Jeff Pope's script explores so lovingly. With Faye Ward producing and Jon Baird at the helm, BBC Films is extremely excited to crank up production of this gem in 2016.”

Laurel & Hardy, the world's favourite comedy double act, set out on a variety hall tour of Britain in 1953. Diminished by age and with their golden era as the kings of Hollywood comedy now behind them, they face an uncertain future. As they set out, crisscrossing the country, attendances are disappointingly low. But they've always been able to make each other laugh and as the charm and beauty of their performances shines through their audiences laugh too, and they re-connect with legions of adoring fans, old and new.

Pictured below: Laurel and Hardy in London 1953





The tour becomes a hit, but Laurel & Hardy can't quite shake the spectre of Stan and Ollie’s past; and long buried ghosts, coupled with Oliver's failing health, start to threaten their precious partnership. A portrait of the most tender and poignant of creative marriages begins to unfold as the duo, aware that they may be approaching their swan song, try to rediscover just how much they mean to each other.

Director Jon S. Baird says: "Like so many others I grew up watching Laurel & Hardy and I'm therefore honoured to help bring this incredible true story of love, laughter and friendship to the big screen.”



Faye Ward (Suffragette, Dancing on the Edge), Fable Pictures adds: “I feel privileged to have been entrusted to bring to screen the magnificent lives and work of comedy legends, Laurel and Hardy. It is incredibly exciting to be working with such a fantastic and collaborative team. Steve and John are a dream partnership and with Jon directing Jeff’s moving and affectionate screenplay, I know this will be a film to treasure for fans both old and new.”

Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly were the first choices of director Jon S. Baird and screenwriter Jeff Pope.

A Fable Pictures and Sonesta Films production, developed with BBC Films. Written by Jeff Pope, Directed by Jon S. Baird and Produced by Faye Ward. It is Executive Produced by Christine Langan and Nichola Martin for BBC Films, Jeff Pope for Sonesta Films and Gabrielle Tana.

Footage of Laurel and Hardy in Northampton (1953)




Press and Journal reports..

'Stan and Ollie' director Jon S. Baird said last night: “At the heart, it’s a love story – it’s a true love story between these two guys who were best pals. “When I was doing research on these two guys, I was watching clips from some of their old films. My young daughter – who was about four at the time – walked into the room and just burst out laughing. “She had no idea what I was doing, or who they were. But that strong, visual comedy never dies. People hold them in such high regard.” Mr Baird, whose television collaboration with legendary Hollywood director Martin Scorsese and Rolling Stones front-man Mick Jagger, “Vinyl” premiered last week, also rebuffed questions about Mr Coogan’s suitability. He said: “He’s a trained and very skilled actor. Steve was my first choice. I met him a while ago and he knows the character inside out. “He’s very serious about playing this guy and I couldn’t think of anyone better. “Stan Laurel was a workaholic and his whole life was dedicated to making people laugh. Steve understands that, he understands how difficult that is.” Mr Baird added: “Laurel and Hardy have passed away but their legacy lives on. You’ve got to be very respectful towards that. We’ve got a responsibility to their family and fans.” Primary filming on the film, which charts Laurel and Hardy’s swansong variety hall tour of Britain in 1953 – is due to begin later this year.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Top 20 Laurel and Hardy Vines

ANOTHER VINE MESS

THE TOP 20 LAUREL AND HARDY VINES
To celebrate Laurel and Hardy's popular return to the big screen in national cinemas, (see laurelandhardyroadshow.co.uk), here's the top 20 Laurel and Hardy vines in order of popularity as voted by you, the fans. 



20. Stans' Double-Take - Me And My Pal




19. Rope Slap - Way Out West




18. Cat - Night Owls




17. My Dear Daddy - Way Out West




16. Eddies' Baby - Pack Up Your Troubles




15. Rubbish Bin - Night Owls




14. Hardy's Reaction To Jose Mourinho Interview Dirty Work




13. Septober, Octember... - The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case




12. Under Your Arm - Me And My Pal




11. Goodnight - The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case




10. Enough To Make A Man Burst Out Crying  - Helpmates




9. Don't Call Me A You You One Good Turn




8. One More Brick - Dirty Work




7. Chin Up - A Chump At Oxford




6. Saw Head - Busy Bodies




5. Spade - Dirty Work




4. Elbow - County Hospital




3. Stan's Lethal Punch - Block-Heads




2. Fight - Busy Bodies




1. Ball Down Stairs - Block-Heads

 



THE LAUREL AND HARDY ROADSHOW
TICKETS AND INFO AT: 
http://www.laurelandhardyroadshow.co.uk

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Laurel and Hardy Revival 2015 - It Started With A Tweet



In 2014 I sent this tweet from my twitter account @stan_and_ollie



It wasn't until someone tweeted back "but where can we see them in a cinema?" that I realised no mainstream cinemas were showing the boys films and that something had to be done. I knew Stan Laurel's 125th birthday was coming up in June 2015, so I made some enquiries via twitter. I tweeted Showcase Cinemas and asked them if they would be interested in showing Laurel and Hardy in their cinemas which resulted in an email from their director of event cinema who quickly embraced the idea. It wasn't long before other cinemas such as Vue, Perth Playhouse, SGC and Movies@ jumped on board.


So... this June, kicking off in Liverpool on June 1st, there will be a Laurel and Hardy double bill screening of County Hospital and Sons Of The Desert in selected cinemas across the UK and Ireland. Some cinemas are even screening the films on 16th June, Stan Laurel's 125th birthday.

The demand for these screenings has been overwhelming not only here in the UK & Ireland, but also throughout Europe and the USA, so we're already planning on more screenings worldwide later in the year.

The last big revival of Laurel and Hardy was back in 1975 when they reached number 2 in the UK charts with ‘Trail Of The Lonesome Pine’, held off from the number one spot by Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Even into the 80’s the BBC regularly showed the Laurel & Hardy classic shorts on BBC2. Since those days, apart from loyal fans from ‘The Sons Of the Desert’, (the international L&H appreciation society) flying the flag, there has been virtually nothing in recent years to introduce younger generations to Laurel & Hardy. The aim of these national screenings is to invite families to come to the cinema… grandparents, mums, dads and the kids. We want to encourage people to put down their ipods, tablets, iphones and laptops for a couple of hours and come along and enjoy good family entertainment in the company of Laurel & Hardy... in a cinema... with a packed audience! The way they were made to be seen.

What started as a single tweet has turned into the beginning of the biggest Laurel and Hardy revival since 1975. What better way to introduce the boys to the next generation!

To everyone on Twitter, Facebook and to those of you out there who have bought tickets. Thank you for your support.

Ross Owen
Event Coordinator
www.LaurelAndHardyRoadshow.co.uk



Sunday, May 10, 2015

Laurel and Hardy - THE FINAL TOUR: Birds Of A Feather

Following completion of a British tour of A SPOT OF TROUBLE (a stage sketch based on the 1929 two-reeler NIGHT OWLS) in October 1952, Stan began work on his latest play, BIRDS OF A FEATHER.

When preparations were underway for yet another UK tour, it was discovered that Ollie, as an American citizen, was unable due to immigration laws to work in Britain again until a year had elapsed from his previous engagement there. Luckily, a scrutiny of the small print suggested that, should they enter overland from the Republic of Eire, he would be able to work in Northern Ireland before the year was up.

So with that in mind, Stan and Ollie docked at a small port in Cobh, Southern Ireland on the 9th of September 1953 expecting a low key reception. Things couldn't be further from the truth. Despite minimal publicity, it had somehow gotten around town that the boys were coming, and they arrived dismayed to find the harbour crowded to capacity with men, women and children all cheering for their heroes, with the sound of the "Cuckoo Theme" ringing from the cathedral bells, barely audible amid the cheers and horns blasting from other vessels in the harbour. Stan and Ollie were barely able to keep their emotions under control.

The tour kicked off and had the boys starring as a couple of whisky tasters. With a motto like: "The more we drink - the more we earn", it's inevitable that Stan and Ollie are destined for calamity. And thus, they soon wind up in the mental ward of the local County Hospital!!

This was brought about when a severely drunken Ollie had declared that he was "as happy as a lark", and after claiming that he was so joyous that he felt "fit to fly with the birds", he went on to tumble through a window headlong into an imaginary river down below (with the obligatory "two-buckets-of-water" trick utilised to suggest this effect).

The rest of the play had a very familiar theme. Ollie in a hospital bed, icepack on his head and his arm in a sling!

While enjoying his comfortable rest from the turmoil of everyday life, all is going well - then Stan shows up at visiting time. It's not surprising that he bears a gift of hard boiled eggs - although this time he passed on the nuts of earlier fame. 

"What's that?" asks  Ollie after spotting a brown paper bag under Stan's arm. "I brought you some hard boiled eggs and a nice onion and jam sandwich" Stan explains, to Ollie's horror. "Now why did you bring me an onion and jam sandwich?" Ollie deflatedly asks, "you KNOW I can't eat that!"

"Why not?" asks a frowning, puzzled Stan, "you always said you liked jam, and you like onions too. I remember you said...", being cut off mid sentence by an irate Ollie "Oooooh!"

"I do, but not together!!" Ollie retorts, throwing up his arms in despair. This time, it was the adoring audience who Ollie turned to, rather than the camera, to slow burn his sarcastic, "Onion and jam sandwich... Mmmmmph!!"

After some shenanigans with the eggs, bed pans and water jugs, a nurse enters the ward to check Ollie's chart which reads: "for the attention of Doctor Beserk. Patient think's he's a bird. Advise immediate frontal lobotomy and dissection of the cerebellum."

Ollie gulps in fear of something going tragically wrong in the operating theatre, but the scatty nurse reassures him, "Oh don't worry Mr. hardy, Doctor Beserk's operations are always successful..." Ollie gives a relieved sigh before she adds, "even if the patient dies!"

Ollie's fear turns to terror as Stan nonchalantly gazes on as an undertaker enters the ward with a tape measure to measure Ollie, "Just in case!". 

"That does it!!!" exclaims a more than frustrated Ollie, who's clearly heard enough. "We're getting out of here!".

"I think you're right Ollie," Stan nods in a semi nervous tone before helping Ollie out of bed and through the wards open window. Behind him, the nurse has re-entered and is silently looking on with a scowl. Stan sees her, tips his hat, then continues climbing out to join his pal on the ledge before doing a double take and motioning Ollie back in.

Ollie, all coy and twiddling his thumbs climbs back into bed just before Doctor Beserk comes into the room. Stan is also in bed, having mistaken the nurses instructions to "get in bed" as being aimed at him too.

"And who is the patient?" asks a puzzled Doctor Beserk, Stan smiling his famous tight lipped grin and pointing at Ollie ... who then realises that he's sharing his bed. Ollie angrily pushes Stan out of bed. The doctor and nurse help Stan to his feet, and he tells them, "I'm not the patient! He's the one who's insanitary!"

An enraged Ollie goes into denial, in order to escape his inevitable fate at the hands of the seemingly incompetent Doctor. "How DARE you make such a statement?" he retorts to Stan in an upper class accent. "Why, I've never seen you before in my life!! My name is Ticklebottom!" he hastily adds.

"Then what are you doing here?" asks the doctor. "I came here to visit a relative and got into this room by mistake, " Ollie's lie continues as he gulps at the laughing audience.

The doctor, believing Ollie begins laughing, only to be joined by Ollie and then Stan. They all laugh uncontrollably for a while with Ollie managing to blurt out among his chuckles, "Who ever heard of anyone thinking he's a bird?". The doctor agrees and tells him he's free to go. But as the nurse pulls back the sheets for Ollie to get out, she notices two hard boiled eggs, accidentally dropped in the bed earlier by Stan, and along with the doctor she reverts back to believing the story. Ollie lets out an "ooooh!" as the two staff lumber him back into bed and Stan throws his arms up in bewilderment.

Ollie's cries of "I didn't lay them eggs - he brought them" go ignored and the audience cheer loudly to his timeless retort: "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!" followed by Stan's famous sob, "Well i couldn't help it!"

The sketch comes to a surreal end as the doctor gives Ollie a potionto determin "What kind of bird you think you are - a canary or a buzzard!" The potion has a strange effect on poor Ollie who jumps out of bed chirping just as two pigeons covered in egg shells emerge from the bedside cabinet.

Ollie flaps his imaginary wings, Stan frowns as if still trying to figure out why Ollie doesn't like his sandwich and the doctor and nurse double take in disbelief. The orchestra strike up a closing fanfare as the curtain falls and rises to the bowing stars - to a standing ovation.


(below) The boys perform their 'Birds Of A Feather' sketch on stage in 1954



Eventually the tour hit England, opening night being in Northampton before moving to Liverpool, Manchester, London, Newcastle and Birmingham, where John McCabe was in the audience. He met the boys backstage that night and the result was a long friendship culminating in his 1961 autobiography "MR LAUREL AND MR HARDY" and the formation of the still active "SONS OF THE DESERT" fraternity for Laurel and hardy fans worldwide.

The show closed in May 1954 at the Palace in Plymouth, prompting a review in the local EVENING HERALD the following day:

"Laurel and Hardy look a little older and are not as boisterous as they used to be - perhaps because Oliver Hardy was suffering from a chill and had to have penicillin treatment before the act last night - but all their old cleverness and that delightful craziness is still there."

It should have been in Swansea on the 24th May that the tour concluded, but the 17th in Plymouth turned out to be the boys final performance. The following day Ollie was told to cancel by real doctors, most unlike Doctor Beserk of the sketch, as he had suffered a minor heart attack. Worlds away from the fantasy world of laying eggs and chirping...

Stan declined offers from the remaining venues to continue alone. "I am completely lost without Ollie," he told them, "We do comedy sketches - situations. I'm not a gag man".

Ollie recuperated enough to return home a few days later and the tour was terminated. The duo took a leisurely twenty day cruise to L.A. on the 30th May, embarking from Hull aboard the merchant vessel SS MANCHURIA, on a tropical journey over the Atlantic via the Panama Canal.

The boys would never tour again. Stan would never visit his homeland again. It was the fade-out of the performing career of the boys.

One can still see Ollie, bed ridden, most annoyed and muttering, "Onion and jam sandwich ... Mmmmph!!!"

Monday, January 28, 2013

Laurel and Hardy "The Hat Facts" Part 2

By Tyler St. Mark 

To fully appreciate “the hat facts” of Laurel and Hardy, one must comprehend the era they derived from and why hats were so important back then. Understand the sensibilities of those times and you will know why Stan and Babe (Hardy) wore so many different hats both on and off the screen, and why they chose derbies for their characters and not, let’s say, top hats or fedoras.

By the start of the twentieth century in America, hats not only identified one’s livelihood or career, they defined one’s status in life. Most every type of employment, from the milkman and doorman to the nurse and undertaker, was associated with a particular type of hat. Even one’s social and economic standing was suggested by their head covering; an inference often exploited in the theatre and “the flickers.” In these early films, you could not only tell the good guys from the bad guys by the hats they were wearing, you could distinguish the rich from the poor, and trades people from the “nobility.”

The bowler hat was invented in 1849 by London hat makers Thomas and William Bowler to fulfill a custom order placed by Lock and Co hatters who had been commissioned by Edward Coke, a nephew to the Earl of Derby, to design a close-fitting, low-crowned hat to protect his gamekeepers from tree branches while on horseback since the top hats they usually wore were constantly being knocked off and damaged.

The derby was mostly associated with urban society. 

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Peaking in popularity by the late 1800’s, this new English bowler offered a respectable compromise to both the formal top hat associated with the upper classes and the soft felt hats worn by the lower classes. By the new century, the “derby” (American slang for the hat popularized when the 12th Earl of Derby wore one to the Derby races) was mostly worn with suits and overcoats and actually symbolized male power dressing. However, it eventually became a relic of the Victorian age, gleefully cast off by the Roaring 1920’s for trendier headwear like the straw boater and Italian fedora.

According to Stan Laurel, the motive behind their wearing derbies was simple. The Boys perceived their characters essentially as “rubes;” dumb working class stiffs trying to get ahead and dressed for success—but looking twenty years behind the times. By that tine, the derby was mostly associated with urban society; particularly with well-to-do people who had risen from the working class but had yet to elevate their fashion sense.

So, according to Stan, it was a natural choice for “Stan and; Ollie” to sport derbies which, along with their winged collars, were considered dignified but conspicuously out of fashion. Stan felt that these vestiges of a bygone era, combined with his simple gray tweed suit and Babe’s classic navy suit or grey salt-and-pepper sports jacket, afforded the half-assed dignity he desired for their stupid but stately film personas.

Even before their true screen characters emerge; cast as vagrants in one of their first films together, Duck Soup (1927), Stan sports a battered derby while Babe is wearing a shabby and worn out top hat—perhaps their first attempt at seeking the slightly out-of-fashion stateliness which would become the wardrobe hallmark of their future screen personas.

Like Stan, I also had a fascination with hats from a very early age and, like both Laurel and Hardy, I was born of a generation whose sensibilities mandated that men and women were not properly dressed in public without wearing one. In fact, up until the late 50’s, a proper lady or gentleman would never be seen in public without a hat. Even children were expected to wear hats to certain public events and functions.

Stan the schoolboy.

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 Indeed, in many of Stan’s childhood photographs, he is wearing a hat or head covering. According to Stan’s daughter, Lois Laurel-Hawes, her great-grandmother had impressed upon Stan early on the importance of wearing a head covering if, for no other reason, during cold Lancashire weather, “the heat will escape from the top of your head!” In Stan’s early music hall photographs, he is usually wearing a hat of one sort or another. While crossing to America with the Fred Karno troupe, Stan wore a common tweed flat cap, lightly indicative of both his youthful outlook and his working class status.

In Stan and Babe’s early candid photographs together, they are usually wearing hats and, in more film stills than not, Stan and Ollie are wearing hats. Throughout their lives and careers, hats seemingly played an essential part in both the public and private lives of The Boys.

Stan and his flatcap, 1920's. 

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In fact, you can just about gage Laurel and Hardy’s film success by the hats they display, from their snappy but thrifty straw skimmers or “boaters” before and during the early Roach years, to the more expensive Homburgs and Borsilonos they strut when their films are being widely celebrated across the continents. 

Laurel and Hardy appeared together in about 106 films. They wore their trademark derbies in about 75 of those films. However, they donned more than 95 other types of hats in over 84 of their films. Yes, it’s true; foot for celluloid foot, Stan and Ollie truly wore many more other kinds of hats than they did their celebrated bowlers.

Sammy Benson, who worked as a wardrobe assistant at Hal Roach Studios before going over to MGM and 20th Century Fox, had a special affinity with Stan and his passion for hats. According to his daughter, Marjorie, Sammy and Stan would huddle with delight over the possibilities with each new script; eagerly seeking every opportunity to put The Boys, individual or collectively, in something other than their usual derbies. According to Sammy, however, this was no lark. It seems that Stan was concerned that audiences might tire of seeing the same wardrobe on The Boys, film after film, and so he actively sought to strategically invigorate their appearance whenever possible with the use of hats.

In addition to top hats, boaters, sailor hats, tam o shams, police hats, military hats, fire helmets, feathered hats, night caps, knit caps, sombreros, and the occasional ladies cloche hat and sequined fascinator, Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy also donned head gear as exotic as Russian busbies, silk turbans and, of course, their illustrious Turkish fezzes.

Stan and Babe wore over 95 other hats in their films.

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Indeed, of all their supplementary film headwear, Stan and Babe are most celebrated for their simple hand-sewn, single chain-lock stitched, golden-rod thread embroidered fezzes imported from Istanbul. It is estimated that over eight dozen maroon colored fez blanks were obtained from several local fraternal order suppliers in the Fall of 1933, over-laid with a tissue paper tracing template bearing the somewhat crude image of a setting sun, and individually trace-stitched by several seamstresses working urgently on what were likely Cornely A industrial grade chain-stitch sewing machines. When even these efforts were proving too slow for the shooting schedule, the fezzes which were to be worn by scene extras in the distance were hastily imprinted with the design via a paint template.

A legend I cannot verify at this time was passed on to my Pop by a friend and colleague, William Lambert, who insisted the fez’s setting sun logo, now worn by members of the Sons of the Desert all over the world, was actually an unfinished sketch by costume designer, Irene Lenzt, known more simply in the fashion world as simply “Irene.”

According to Will, who also worked in the Hal Roach wardrobe department at the time, Irene was brought in to design some gowns for several films. Not yet famous herself, her late husband, F. Richard Jones, had once been Head of Production at Roach and revered by Stan who sought to keep her employed after his untimely death in 1930. Since Irene’s father had been a Shiner, she was asked to quickly whip up a logo for a fez to be worn by a fictitious fraternal order she misunderstood to be the “Sun of the Desert.”

The story goes that Irene began the logo sketch but was suddenly called onto the set of another film to address some wardrobe problems. The wardrobe supervisor, thinking the fez design was completed, immediately made a template from Irene’s sketch and had already stitched the design onto a dozen fezzes by the time Irene returned later that day. Will told my Pop that Irene only admitted many years later that the design rushed into production and now familiar worldwide to Laurel and Hardy fans, had never been finished. True or not, such production anomalies are not unusual during the hustle and bustle of meeting film schedules and, as Hal Roach would likely say, “It’s a better story!”

Produced as quickly (and cheaply) as possible for a few scenes of what would become one of Laurel and Hardy’s most celebrated films, Sons of the Desert (1933), nobody had any idea then that these hats would someday be among the most prized of Laurel and Hardy memorabilia. As I said before, back in those days, wardrobe was just wardrobe and, after production, nobody needed 100 fezzes bearing the same design along with the name of an only moderately successful Roach film short. So, those fezzes that were not retained as keepsakes by the cast, crew, and studio personnel were eventually sold off to local costume companies where they gathered dust, moth holes, and fell into obscurity. Some were altered or reconstructed for other projects while others were simply discarded. It has been estimated that there are less than a dozen original SOTD fezzes left today.

The Sons Of The Desert fez 

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However, as I also stated before, these precious relics seemingly have a mind of their own and there are enumerable stories of how present day owners found or acquired their original Sons of the Desert fezzes. My favorite account is from a film colleague who discovered one in the front window of a vintage clothing store in Los Angeles. Apparently, the fez was part of a local estate that had just arrived and the fez had not been sitting in the window for long. My friend rushed into the store, his heart beating fast, and purchased the hat for less than the price of a first run movie.

“I walked out of the store with my fez,” my friend says imitating a very satisfied Ollie, “and nobody was any the wiser!”

Another colleague reports a similar experience with not one but two original fezzes in a hat store in Burbank some years ago. The proprietor had no idea where they came from,” my friend explains emphatically, “and so we purchased both of them very cheaply.”

Other collectors, of course, have not been quite so fortunate, having paid as high as eight thousand dollars at auction for an authentic SOTD fez, with or without the original tassel.

Throughout his often turbulent film career of over fifty years, hats continued to play an affable if not comforting role in Stan Laurel’s life both on and off the silver screen. Stan wore hats everywhere; to the studio, to social engagements and sporting events, even while he was golfing, gardening or fishing. Stan prided himself on discovering some unique and interesting new head covering whenever and wherever he might venture. Once, returning from a brief excursion with friends to Mexico, Stan searched for and brought back the biggest sombrero he could find.

Stan’s daughter, Lois, recalls fondly that her father often performed hat tricks for her and her childhood friends. “He would roll his hat down his arm, catching it at the last second and, of course, he performed his famous hat trick against the back of the wall—just like in their films,” she remembers happily.

As I stated before, during their many tours and travels across the world, Stan and Babe spared no opportunity to display the indigenous headwear of the time--much to their public’s delight. According to Will Lambert, Stan personally preferred fedoras and, for a short time during the 40’s, took a particular fancy to a Stetson model known widely as The Stratoliner.

Stan and Babe wore fedoras later in life. 

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 By the early 50’s, however, social norms and standards were beginning to relax and public tastes were changing both in comedy and in fashion. More and more, people were adopting a much more casual attitude about headwear in public and hats seemed destined to go the way of the derby.

Not Laurel and Hardy however. The Boys continued to exhibit various head gear on and off the screen and, in their very last film, Atoll K (1951), Stan and Ollie wore several other hats in addition to their trademark derbies.

Even when they returned to Hal Roach Studios for the last time in 1954 to see their old boss and to help dedicate Lake Laurel and Hardy, they were wearing their best fedoras.

However, when Babe Hardy passed away in 1957, so apparently did Stan’s passion for collecting hats. Stan never again publicly donned the trademark bowler that had come to be so profoundly associated with Laurel and Hardy. Some say it was out of respect for his late comedy partner. I believe it was more than that. I believe that their derbies were such an intrinsic part of their comedy pairing that Stan simply felt uncomfortable wearing one any longer.

Lois Laurel with one of her dad's hats. 

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Indeed, during his final years, living modestly but comfortably with his dutiful wife, Ida, at the Oceana in Santa Monica, Stan Laurel rarely left his apartment, whether for his customary early dinner at a nearby restaurant or for his monthly haircut, without wearing one of his fedoras—even while the Beat Generation was sporting trilbies and sport caps or going totally hatless altogether. Although fedoras were already fading into obsolescence like the top hat, derby, and straw boater, the former Clown Prince of Comedy remained ever faithful to bygone social etiquette, refusing to submit to rash 60’s sensibilities.

After all, Stan was born of a generation celebrated for wearing hats and was part of an era that defined its society by their headwear. He worked and reveled in an industry that used and abused hats to no end; and in the process, he made two of them, placed together, an international comedy hallmark.

Most importantly, he believed a gentleman should never be seen in public without his hat. And as their personal and professional histories show, and these hat facts clearly demonstrate, Laurel and Hardy were, above all else, forever and always, gentle men.

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*Tyler St. Mark is a writer/producer/actor in Los Angeles and presently in preproduction on the reprise of his 1974 landmark production now titled “Stan Laurel Backstage.” (http://www.stanlaurel.com)