I guess you could say that Chuck McCann and I go way back. All the way back to July 29, 1980, when he asked me – an eight-year old at the time – to borrow my pen so that he could sign something as he registered for the Sons of the Desert “Hollywood ’80” convention. I knew two things about Chuck at that time: that he had portrayed Oliver Hardy in a series of TV commercials (opposite Jim MacGeorge), and that he had been one of the founding members of the Sons of the Desert (as officially outlined in the Sons Constitution).
Over the years, I’d see Chuck McCann’s face pop up in numerous films and TV shows: Foul Play, The Bob Newhart Show, They Went That-a-Way and That-a-Way, Little House on the Prairie, Diff’rent Strokes, and Matt Houston (in which he played an Oliver Hardy look-alike). Each time I’d see him, I’d say to myself, “ah! there he is.”
I didn’t see Chuck McCann in person again until 1992, when he and Jim MacGeorge would perform a skit as Laurel and Hardy look-alikes. As Bob and I arrived on the island, we saw Chuck and I had him sign the photo above. I recall that he initially seemed put out, but then caught himself and beamed a big smile at me after signing.
Then I’d see him four times in four successive years in the mid-1990s, starting with the New York Sons of the Desert convention (where he signed the photo at the top of the posting), where he was a celebrity guest. Then the following year, I’d see him working the crowd with Hugh Hefner at the Ray Courts Hollywood Collectors Show on June 24, 1995. Then the next year, he’d be part of the Sons of the Desert convention cruise through the Caribbean. In 1997, I’d see him again at the Hollywood Collector Show – again with Hefner. During all of these encounters, I never once got a photo with Chuck.
Another ten years passed before I’d see Chuck again, this time at the Way Out West Tent’s 40th anniversary banquet on July 28, 2007. He partnered up with Jim once again to perform a routine. I had every intention of finally getting a photo taken with both Chuck and Jim, but an ‘incident’ that occurred between my friend Jimmy and Chuck ensured that I’d have to pass up this opportunity when he left the event somewhat prematurely.
With Chuck being a longtime fixture of the Sons, I did want to get a photo with him at some point, and fortunately the opportunity arose again when I caught him working the crowd at the Hollywood Show on February 12, 2011. As usual, I always look familiar to him – even if he can’t recall my name. His face lit up when I mentioned being a Sons member and he was more than happy to pose for a picture. Incidentally, I’d see him yet again at the Hollywood Show later that year on October 8. This time, he’d approach me to inquire about my friend Jimmy.
Celebrities of the Winter 2011 Hollywood Show will continue…