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Stan Laurel's historic encounter with the king of late nite

Heeeeeeeere's Johnny
and Stan!

It was over fifty years ago; 1964 when The King Of Late Night television, Johnny Carson was in Los Angeles onone of his semi frequent visits filming The Tonight Show, years before he would make the west coast his permanent home. On this particular trip, one of his mentors, a childhood hero was in the hospital.  On a whim, he decided to make a phone call to say hello and to wish him well on his recovery.  To his delight, he was able to get through and speak to this genuine comedy legend.  For one brief conversation in time, Johnny Carson got to speak to Stan Laurel.

During the phone call, Stan assured Johnny that he was indeed on the mend and there was no need to worry.  Stan had been admitted to undergo tests for his diabetic condition.  In a letter to a fan, Stan noted that he hopes he won't be in hospital for too long as they charge thirty five dollars per day for the room.  Within a week, Stan was out of the hospital and back home at his beloved Oceana Hotel in Santa Monica.

It was while The Tonight  Show was on the west coast that some of the crew visited the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax Ave. A long established venue for screening films from the silent era, the crew visited on the night that some early one and two reel comedies were being shown. One of them particularly caught the eyes of the Tonight Show personnel. It was Stan Laurel's one reel comedy, "Kill Or Cure" which he made in 1923 for Hal Roach. The screening made quite an impression on the staff. 

Back in New York, life went happily along. At some point, mention was made about Johnny's phone call to Stan which started a discussion about the screening the staff attended when they were in Los Angeles. It was decided that a tribute to Stan would be fun to do on The Tonight Show by showing a portion of the film screened at the theater.

On August 18th. 1964, after a commercial break, Johnny Carson related to his audience his conversation with the thin half of Laurel & Hardy while in California. When Johnny told the audience what Stan had said to him on the phone, he did it 
with his impression of Stan's voice. He had
impersonated both Stan and Babe on previous broadcasts, clearly demonstrating his unabashed admiration for The Boys. Had circumstances been different, he would have loved to have booked Stan as a guest on his late night talk show while on the west coast. At the time of this episode,
Stan had just over six months left on earth. Even if he had been in better health when Carson was in town, it is highly doubtful Stan would have agreed to appear. Short of that feat, what followed next was to be the closest thing to actually having Stan on the program.

After the recounting of their telephone call, he told the audience that they were going to be treated to a sequence from the film that enchanted his staff at the Silent Movie Theater. Further, he let the audience know that Stan had been notified of the broadcast so he may be watching. Johnny introduced a sequence from "Kill Or Cure" that began with Stan trying to sell his cure all mixture as a car cleaner to  Noah Young. To Johnny's delight (he laughed throughout the sequence) and the studio audience, the silent clip was well received.  The film ran for several minutes. Curiously, no musical accompaniment was provided which was confusing as band leader Skitch Henderson was seated at the piano. Still, the film provided many laughs.  

In a letter to one of his many fans, Mike Polacek, Stan made mention of the broadcast:
"The short silent film on the Carson show was titled: KILL OR CURE a Hal E. Roach (One Reeler). I did get a telegram from Carson to watch the show — wish they had chosen a better one out of the 12 I made in 1923."

This may be the first time that KILL OR CURE played on national television. It is a tribute to Johnny that he took the time on his popular program to salute Stan Laurel.  Knowing that his health was fragile, it would become a sweet and loving "thank you" to one half of the team that brought him such joy throughout his life. And in a way, it can be said that Stan Laurel made an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Most video tapes of the first ten years of The Tonight Show were erased.  One of the "survivors" in the archive is the Stan Laurel Tribute and it survives
in color.  Possibly it was saved at Mr. Carson's insistence or simply the fates intervened.

*(From an article written by Stan Taffel
originally appearing in the ITJ.)

Our Hollywood Party banner hangs proudly in the Lasky-DeMille Barn at the Hollywood Heritage Museum where we hold our meetings.

Stan presides over every HP meeting along with the official moniker of the Sons.


At our December 12th meeting at the Lasky-DeMille Barn in Hollywood, the ever-charming Chuck McCann took us on a bit of time travel. He honored our meeting with a brief performance of his historic Laurel and Hardy puppets—the exact two marionettes he used in his 1960's "The Chuck McCann Show" on WPIX TV in New York. For those of us with fond recollections of those shows, Chuck rekindled those delightful memories.

See Chuck's performance at:

Sadly, as Chuck confessed, not one of the original recordings from those Laurel and Hardy episodes remains. But since this December meeting was gratefully filmed, this VIMEO video is the only known footage of Mr. McCann performing with these historic puppets.

 In addition to Stan and Babe's puppet appearance, Chuck treated us to a moving rendition of "Over the Rainbow" by his Judy Garland puppet. It was a rare evening indeed and definitely one that those in attendance will be talking about for years to come.

Hollywood Party is deeply grateful to our dear friend and original Sons Founding Member Mr. Chuck McCann for gracing us with his talent and his continued dedication and loyalty to the Sons worldwide.

Here Chuck poses with Stan Taffel as a 16mm print of "Sons of the Desert" plays on the big screen behind them.


Celebrating Stan Laurel's birthday could not have been better. Our special evening featured Sons' founding member Chuck McCann, whose gracious and delightful reminiscences of his personal experience with Stan and how the Sons of the Desert came to be were the hit of the evening. As an original founding member, Chuck is featured in this article from The Dispatch published August 28th, 1965. Fellow founding members of Sons of the Desert are mentioned in the article as well, including Dick Van Dyke, Sammy Davis Jr., Orson Bean, Jonathan Winters and Jerry Lewis.

This article appears on Page 5 of The Dispatch's August 28, 1965 issue.

Chuck was made an official member of the Hollywood Party Tent at our June meeting and his enthusiastic response was one of delight and pride. Chuck promised to return regularly to our meetings.

Our web site has just added two NEW PAGES. Click on the links above and see into the future.
(It's kind of like time travel......)

Welcome to the official website for the Sons of the Desert
Tent #240. HOLLYWOOD PARTY was founded on June 21, 2000 by a group of enthusiasts dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of motion pictures made by the Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, CA.

Hal Roach gave us centuries of laughter in a mere few decades. Stan and Babe were — and are — the kings of that studio's fine stable of performers. HOLLYWOOD PARTY honors and embraces all those who contributed to Laurel and Hardy's impressive body of work.

On October 11, 2012, HOLLYWOOD PARTY transitioned to their new location at the DeMille/Lasky Barn in Hollywood, CA, currently housing the Hollywood Heritage Museum and located directly across Highland Ave. from the Hollywood Bowl.

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A Few Memorable Moments
From Our December Meeting



The display case in honor of our first meeting at the Lasky-DeMille Barn filled with several pieces of Laurel & Hardy memorabilia. Includes a Hal Roach Studios Badge, 1935 Laurel & Hardy CLub pin, pressbooks, 8mm films a Stan Laurel autograph, Sons fezes, sheet music, photos, an escutcheon prototype, scripts from films, records and a kids book from 1934.

A framed picture of several photos of the Hal Roach Studio (this actually hung at the Studio), a signed check from Stan Laurel and sheet music from Jitterbugs.

Grand Sheik Stan Taffel receives a message and "toast" via Skype from Gary Cohen in Chicago. We also received Skype salutations from Irv Hyatt in New Jersey and Gene Sorkin in Ohio.

The foyer of the barn was decorated with vintage Laurel & Hardy one sheet posters.

Grand Sheik Stan Taffel introduces the film line up.

After the meeting, the men with the Fez adornments posed for a photo. (L-R: John Field, Stan Taffel, Perry Shields, and Kim Reynolds)

April 9th — NEXT MEETING!

New TEMPORARY Location

 New Time 7:30!!

* (Owing to unforeseen construction delays at the DeMille Barn, ONLY our February meeting has been moved to another location nearby. Our apologies for this inconvenience. However, if you think of it as a plot device from one of the Boys' comedies, we can play it to our advantage! Keep your good attitude and join us at the American Legion Hall. Join us Thursday April 9th at:

The American Legion Hall
2035 N. Highland Ave
Hollywood, CA 90046


The Hollywood Party is definitely on. Join the gang in the comedy tradition of Hal Roach and enjoy a delightful evening of film, fun, food, raffles, and a wonderful surprise or two! Arrive early because occupancy tops out at 100.