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AUTHOR OF LAUREL AND HARDY: THE MAGIC BEHIND THE MOVIES. WATCH THE WEBCAST BELOW
WHAT IS THE SONS OF THE DESERT?
"The Sons of the Desert" is the official international Laurel and Hardy appreciation society.
It’s beginnings go back to a meeting which took place in Birmingham, England in late 1953 between Laurel and Hardy and a young American student, John McCabe. Following a stage performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre, Mr. McCabe decided to go to the stage door of the theatre in order, if possible, to meet the two comedians.
From that meeting, a friendship began which led to further meeting when all parties returned to the United States. John McCabe made the suggestion to Stan Laurel that an organisation should be established to promote the study and showing of the work of ‘The Boys’. Mr. McCabe draw up a tongue - in - cheek constitution which satirised regular fraternal organisations (as did the film ‘The Sons of the Desert’ from which the organisation takes its name).
Stan Laurel himself contributed to the constitution and gave his approval to the embryo society. Stan was keen however that the society should have "half assed dignity", focusing on the work of the team rather than being just a regular fan club.
In the spirit of the constitution, Al Kilgore, an American cartoonist produced a crest for the new organisation (seen below). The escutcheon, of quasi – British heraldic style, bears words suggested by Stan Laurel "Two minds without a single thought", translated into Latin script.
The first meeting of the Sons of the Desert took place in New York City on the 14th. May 1965. The founding members being: John McCabe, Chuck McCann, Orson Bean and John Municino. John McCabe was elected "Grand Sheik" (chairman).
With the passing of time, more "Tents" (or chapters) of the organisation were established across the US. Each "Tent" took its name from the title of one of the team’s films. In addition it was given an "Oasis" number which corresponds to the order in which they were admitted to the organisation
The New York City Tent being known as "The Sons of the Desert Tent – Oasis #1, (also known as the Founding Tent). As the number of tents grew John McCabe became "Exhausted Ruler" of "Sons" everywhere.
Today, there are literally HUNDREDS of tents world-wide, bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the lives and work of the greatest of all film comedy teams. In addition to their local activities, the organisation holds regular national gatherings (conventions). There is an annual European Convention and a bi-annual International Convention.