THE FOUNDERS OF THE SONS OF THE DESERT
How It All Began...
The Sons of the Desert is a Laurel and Hardy appreciation group founded in New York City in 1965 by L & H biographer and admirer John McCabe. According to Article II of our Constitution, the founding members were Orson Bean, Al Kilgore, John McCabe, Chuck McCann, and John Municino.
The organization was named after the 1933 comedy film, Sons of the Desert, which is regarded as one of Laurel and Hardy's greatest films. Each local chapter is known as a "tent" and is named after one of the comedy team's movie titles. For example, the Hollywood tent is called "Way Out West," the Boston members are the "Brats," and the Glasgow Sons belong to "Bonnie Scotland." There are now chapters all over the world.
Cartoonist Al Kilgore drew the crest of the group. It bears the slogan suggested by Stan Laurel — "Two minds without a single thought" — translated into Latin: Duae tabulae rasae in quibus nihil scriptum est (literally: "Two blank slates on which nothing has been written").
Pictured from left to right: Al Kilgore, Chuck McCann, John McCabe, and Alan G. Barbour
The early meetings of the Sons of the Desert were held in New York City at the legendary theatrical club, The Lambs. In later years, meetings were held at The Players theatrical club, and most recently, at The Church of the Transfiguration, founded in 1848 and home of The Episcopal Actors' Guild since 1923.
Throughout our history, formal banquets have been held periodically. Pictured here: The SOTD May 1966 Banquet. From left to right: Alan Barbour, John Municino, Frank Nastasi, Al Kilgore, John McCabe, Chuck McCann, Orson Bean, Ida Laurel, unidentified, Soupy Sales, and Ben Shipman. We believe this is the only photo that shows all the founders together: Bean, Kilgore, McCabe, McCann & Municino.
"Screed" (the pre-tense of the word screwed) was the first publication ever put out by The Sons of the Desert. The first issue, shown here, came out in the fall of 1965. Click to read about the origins of the Sons, the first annual banquet, and more — plus don't miss the letter on page 17 from a teenage Leonard Maltin!