The latest issue of the Intra-Tent Journal features a fine miix of tent news from around the globe, an article about Laurel and Hardy’s transition to sound movies, plus a piece on Stan and Ollie's American Vaudeville by editor Bill Oates.
We had a fantastic day in Ulverston on 6th July with all our Laughing Gravy Tent members. It seems that every year we go, we have glorious weather. And what better way to spend the day than to be amongst the best people in the world, the Sons of the Desert.
John Ullah on Facebook
Ron Stokoe RIP
We reported the sad loss of Ron on 7th July. Dozens of tributes have been posted on Facebook and elsewhere and we offer here just a few (abridged)…
We have lost a truly great friend. It was always a tonic to be with him.
Willie & Pat McIntyre
Ron was a very special guy who was always making people smile. He will be sorely missed at our gatherings. He had many friends in many different tents - once you met him you would never forget him. We should all raise a glass of red wine to his memory.
How sad to hear that Ron has passed, but what a life he led and what a great character he was. It was so much fun to be in his company. I always felt that there was a naughty little boy still inside Ron, even after his many years of life.
I am so happy that we visited with Ron when I was in Southend in June. Ron maintained his usual personable self even though his mobility had slipped. He will be missed - a memorable character and all around nice fellow. So good that Roger Robinson got his story down in print and shared it with the Sons.
I have visited Ron every week for four weeks in his hospital room and had seen a decline over this period. It is never a good time to lose an old friend (I have known Ron Stokoe for seventy years) but really he had suffered enough.
I think it’s fair to say that you couldn’t help but love Ron. He had a great sense of humour, and it was fun to be in his company. He had an eye for the ladies (or should I say he had two eyes for the ladies!). His charm was irresistible.
John & Mandy and all our Laughing Gravy members
Indeed, he was one very, very special fellow... even with his illness he'd light up the room with a smile, a joke and such charm. We have very special and fond memories of him and its been quite an honour to have known him.
Dave & Denise Tomlinson
2020 International Convention
The website for the 2020 International Convention is up and running. Go to:
2020lhconvention.com for all the latest news. You can now register for your hotel rooms - and please make sure to use the code LAU for your discount rate of $129 plus tax (single/double ).
At the Panopticon
Philip Martin Williams and David L. Williams, the founder members of the Be Big Tent, have a new book out in August. For Your Delectation And Delight is a history of music halls and theatres in Ashton under Lyne. More details at their website http://hoydpublishing.simplesite.com/?fbclid=IwAR0TJ0lTDWopCMMVkem4pA6tl0mLd1oMHSd5XGd-zELkRXeuT2u1e0jN-uA.
Dean Carroll on Facebook
Just got in my latest Empire mag and once again they have a full page ad for L&H figures. This time the ad features what looks like a very good statue of the Boys in their Sons of the Desert poses. I immediately went onto the site, but as before, they only had key fobs and fridge magnets.
Contacting them at
On the Boulevard
My daughter took this shot of me at Hollywood Blvd. a multiplex theatre with a lot of movie posters and other memorabilia. Here I am with a couple of other monkeys.
Meet Grand Sheik Jeanne
Jeanne Hanson is the Grand Sheik of the newly formed Our Relations (Tent of James Finlayson).
Stan and Ollie’s ‘third man’ is a real Larbert hero
Actor James Finlayson has been honoured with a street name in Larbert and also a plaque... but is that really enough for an immortal comedy superstar of the silver screen? No, says Finlayson fanatic Alistair Young, who confesses to being obsessed with the man, his own family ties, and the slow-burning crusade to give him the recognition he is surely due.
A statue in Falkirk, or home town Larbert?
Finlayson is an actor modern audiences will have seen dozens of times in Laurel and Hardy films - in fact he starred in no less than 33 of them.
He emigrated to the States, where the big showbiz action was, and passed away in Los Angeles after a massively successful international career. The recent launch of the movie Stan and Ollie has a brief cameo of Finlayson - complete with Scottish accent - but possibly only serious movie buffs would realise who he really was.
Now, says Alistair, it’s time to give this wideranging comic actor (whose repertoire extended far beyond Laurel and Hardy films) the credit he is due - especially in the area where he was born.
Alistair is a proud member of the Finlayson “tent” of the Sons of the Desert - the Laurel and Hardy tribute organisation which has branches all over the world - and hopes this may serve as a rallying point for local people who, like him, are related to the great man, or who simply want to honour his spectacular achievement.
He thinks it curious that while (for example) Stan Laurel’s British and Scottish roots have been fairly well publicised the actor many film buffs still think of as Laurel and Hardy’s ‘third man’ tends to be remembered vaguely, if at all. Yet people still watch movies (like “Big Business”, a salutary tale of dispute escalating into all-out war) in which he’s very much more than just “a straight man”.
In “Bonnie Scotland” he’s the irascible Scottish sergeant major who tries and fails to make real soldiers out of Stan and Ollie, who happen to be serving in a Highland regiment in the wilds of the North West Frontier.
Alistair says: “Finlayson isn’t perhaps as well known as he should be in his native land, but in America - where genealogy is such a big deal - there are plenty of people interested in tracing their genuine Scottish roots through this fascinating man”.
James Henderson Finlayson was born on August 27, 1887, and died on October 9, 1954 in Los Angeles, California.
One of nine siblings, his parents were Alexander Finlayson and Isabella (née Henderson) Finlayson - who was one of Alistair’s great-grandmother Jane Calder (née Henderson) Adam’s younger sisters... which makes Alistair a first cousin twice removed from the great man himself.
He has been researching the family roots since February last year, and thanks to social media has uncovered a mass of detail from both sides of the Atlantic, but the hunt goes on - particularly for relatives in Falkirk, Larbert, Stenhousemuir and Grangemouth.
Alistair hopes any Falkirk Herald readers linked to Finlayson will get in touch, and help bring the scattered clan together for a fresh bid to honour his memory in his own homeland. He can be contacted via the dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Falkirk Herald 07 July 2019 by Roy Beers
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