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Overseas vistors embrace familiar tribute to Laurel and Hardy

Posted: October 11, 2017 - 1:48am
Phillip Jones with Little Ollie with Marion Grave and Harlem Museum director Linda Caldwell, and Stan Laurel Look-a-like, Dennis Moriarty at Harlem’s Laurel and Hardy Museum during the 29th Annual Oliver Hardy Festival.

The 29th Annual Oliver Hardy Festival, was a first for English citizen Marion Grave, but her family's dedication to the preservation of the memory of Laurel and Hardy have preceded her at the Harlem museum.

Grave is the daughter of the late Bill Cubin, the man credited with establishing the Sons of the Desert, Laurel and Hardy appreciation group, in England. Cubin is also credited with starting the first Laurel and Hardy Museum in Ulverston, after Grave said his memorabilia collection "got out of hand."

"We call it in our family, dad's museum," Grave said laughing. "The hobby that got out of hand."

Grave and four others ended their week-long tour of historical places in the lives of Laurel and Hardy on the West Coast, at the festival Saturday in Harlem.

"I always talked about coming. Mom and Dad came to Harlem when he was alive and met a lot of people and told me how wonderful the place was," Grave recalled.

Grave and her group visited film locations, graves and homes made famous by Laurel and Hardy.

"We met up with some genuine Sons of the Desert who gave us a full conducted tour of Los Angeles, the film sets, and the graves and the houses, it was amazing, we had a wonderful time," Graves said.

The group then traveled to Monterrey and San Francisco, while in California, followed by their visit to Harlem for the festival.

"We are absolutely delighted to be here and to see how the town has welcomed (the festival) with open arms," Grave said. "It's wonderful to see so much enthusiasm for Laurel and Hardy here. People have come from far and wide, the streets are so busy, the museum is looking great and I'm just absolutely delighted to be here."

Harlem's museum was a familiar place for Grave Saturday, as she took over the museum her father started 40 years ago. Grave said her family's museum has been a labor of love, handed down through the generations.

"When my father passed on, as he was leaving us, he gave me the option and said it's yours if you want it but only if you want to love it. But of course I love the museum" Grave recalled. "I have now handed it on to my son with the same principal, it's yours if you want it, if you want it and will love it, it's your museum, but if not, we will decide what to do with it later. Fortunately he has taken it on wholeheartedly and is doing an amazing job."

The town of Ulverston, population of about 12,0000 has also started its own festival, Another Fine Fest, celebrating its native son Stan Laurel. Grave said the festival is now in its fourth year and has become successful.

For Grave, like so many others, Laurel and Hardy is a time-honored tradition that connects people worldwide.

"It's an amazing organization, the Sons of the Desert is so much fun" Grave said. "I always say about the Sons of the Desert, you have every nationality, every age, every gender, every social standing, so much diversity, the only thing we all have in common is the same sense of humor."

With Grave was Matthew Cooper, also from England, who made the trip to the U.S.

"It's wonderful to be in Harlem, Georgia and the Laurel and Hardy museum is absolutely fantastic," Cooper said. "It's been like a pilgrimage to have been to where Oliver Hardy was born."

And as so many others, Grave said they work hard to keep what they love most about the duo alive for generations to come.

"The more we can keep Laurel and Hardy's memories alive, the happier we are all going to be because they make everybody laugh," Grave said. "We get in the (Ulverston) museum as Linda gets here, people coming in because they love Laurel and Hardy and they appeal to different ages at different levels. The children love the simplicity of the humor, the slapstick, and as you get older and you start watching and Laurel and Hardy films, you realize the subtlety behind the humor and how clever Stan was."

"I've had a grate holiday, we've traveled to California, but this is definitely the cherry on the cake," Grave added. "I am so happy to be here and to be greeted and welcomed by so many people, it's lovely."

 

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