PHILADELPHIA, PA — In 1964 a group of Laurel and Hardy film enthusiasts including actor Orson Bean formed a fun-loving fraternal organization called The Sons of the Desert, dedicated to the enjoyment of their favorite comedies. Based on the 1933 Laurel and Hardy feature of the same name, members donned fez hats and toasted the comic team, along with their supporting stars. Stan Laurel helped to pen the tongue-in-cheek ‘constitution’ with rules that involved copious amounts of cocktails.
The Delaware-Valley area group (known as ‘tents’ or an ‘oasis’) is one of the oldest and is in its continuous 52nd year. “There are hundreds of tents all over the United States, and the world,” explained Elaine Madden of West Chester, PA. She leads the Two Tars Tent of the Philadelphia area (each group is named after one of Laurel and Hardy’s 106 films). “There are groups in Italy, Denmark, France, Australia, and several in the UK.” Elaine’s title is “Grand Sheik”, one of the few women heading a Sons of the Desert tent.
The Two Tars Tent has hosted visitors at their annual banquets over the last half century who are in show business or acted with the famous comedy team. “We’ve had Dick Van Dyke, Margaret Hamilton, Spanky McGarland and Mae Questel (voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyle)”.
Running a 50+ year old group has not been without challenges, ”the Pandemic led to banquet cancellations, as well as the international convention we attend”, noted Madden. “But when families show up with their kids and we hear them all laugh at seeing Laurel and Hardy antics for the first time, I know it’s worth the effort.”
The Two Tars will have their annual Spring Banquet at Georgine’s Restaurant, in Bristol, PA on Sunday, April 23rd. Live music, dinner, and of course Laurel and Hardy classics are planned. People interested in learning about the Sons of the Desert Two Tars group, or about the upcoming event can contact Elaine Madden, the “Exhausted Sheik” at [email protected]. They can also check out event details on their Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/twotars.
The Two Tars Tent has been showing Laurel and Hardy and other classic comedy programs in the Philadelphia area for over 50 years. The Two Tars Tent was instrumental in establishing the Intra-Tent Journal, a publication of the International Sons of the Desert.
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