Thursday, July 2, 2015

Guestbook entry with signature from 1909

This rare item is currently up for auction on eBay in case you have an extra $3,000 lying around. It reads:

Good Luck to Mrs Stewart
She is the best in the
world shall always like
Glasgow as long as Mrs
Stewart there and her
two daughters
Charles Chaplin
Fred Karno [?]
Perkins, M P.

"Perkins, MP." (or "Mr. Perkins, M.P.") was a Fred Karno sketch in which Chaplin had a small role. "Empire" = the Empire Theater in Glasgow.

Meredith Willson on Charlie's "twiddeldy bits"

“The themes we use, excepting for a bit of Wagner and Brahms interpolation, are about half Mr. Chaplin’s and half mine, with my development and orchestration. And it’s uncanny how right he always is when technically he isn’t a musician and can’t read a note of music. In scoring the picture we’d run it through, then in this place or that one he’d sing a few notes; something he’d call a ‘twiddeldy bit,’ and it would unerringly work out to be exactly what the sequence needed.” --Photoplay, December 1940
Willson was Musical Director for The Great Dictator (1940) which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. But he is best remembered for composing the hit musical The Music Man. 

Willson & CC at the Chaplin Studios.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Candid photos from the filming of HIS NEW PROFESSION (1914)

Photos courtesy of Lisa Stein Haven.

These candid shots show Chaplin & his cast and crew filming at Westlake Park in Los Angeles, perhaps in front of an audience (?) Please feel free to comment with any other identifications or let me know if I have made a mistake in an I.D.

(Chaplin = "Luny")

Charley Chase is in the center in the bowtie. At far left is Cecile Arnold.
Jess Dandy can be seen in the wheelchair (with his foot in a cast) near the center. Chaplin is facing sideways at center right.
I'm not sure who the man is talking to Chaplin, however the man behind him (with the beard and dark hat) plays the other wheelchair-bound invalid in the film. Cecile Arnold has her back to the camera.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Chaplin praises "marvelous" color television

Radio Varieties, January 1941 (click to enlarge)

Chaplin may praise color television here but he disagreed with color for motion pictures. He told an interviewer in 1931 that, "for his part, he preferred to do without it":
He liked to work in black and white and with the simplest studio materials. This was a purely personal point of view. On wider grounds he considered that color tended rather to diminish screen illusion than heighten it. The cinema depended on light and shadow for its effect, not on the resources of the painter. --The Times (London), Feb. 20, 1931

Friday, June 26, 2015

90 years ago today: the Hollywood premiere of THE GOLD RUSH at Grauman's Egyptian Theater

Cover of premiere program. See entire program here.

More than 15,000 fans, held in check by ropes and police, gathered outside the theater on the evening of June 26th, 1925 to watch the celebrities descend from their cars. Among those in attendance were: Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Mabel Normand, Rudolph Valentino, John Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer, who were on their first date (Chaplin's then wife, Lita Grey, did not attend*).

Chaplin at the premiere.
Inside the stars were announced to the audience via an elaborate stage prologue called "Charlie Chaplin's Dream" described as a "thing of matchless beauty":
A novel presentation of the celebrities present was accomplished by unreeling a special movie showing a procession of stars in specially acted incidents with Fred Niblo as master of ceremonies, both in film and on the stage.
Rudolph Valentino in the screen introduction was presented in a bathing suit and bathrobe as an oceanside victim of auto thieves. At this point a noise of running feet in the aisles attracted attention to a racing figure which was Rudy, sure enough, in a bathrobe.  Niblo reproached the sheik for appearing in such a costume, whereupon Rudy nonchalantly unpeeled the checkered robe and revealed the proprieties of a tuxedo.1
The applause for Mabel Normand's entry was second only to that of Charlie himself.

John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlotte Pickford, and Mary Pickford
at the opening.
When the film was over Chaplin received an ovation and made his way to the stage but was "too emotional, he explained, to make much of a speech and then, characteristically, he proceeded to deliver a fairly good one."2

Another person in the audience that evening was William E. Curry, grandfather of Lita Grey, who was Chaplin's original leading lady in the film until she became pregnant. "At the intermission, old Mr. Curry confided to a friend the depth of his disappointment at seeing Georgia Hale instead of Lita in the screen triumph he had anticipated for his 17-year-old granddaughter."3

Chaplin with Sid Grauman

Afterward a party was held for Charlie at the home of Sam Goldwyn. The celebrations continued the next afternoon with a "bachelor lunch party" at the Montmartre attended by the "back wash of the Chaplin premiere of the night before. Charlie himself with Douglas Fairbanks, Harry d'Arrast, and Robert Fraser." Charlie was clad in a "snappy sports outfit, white buckskin shoes, white serge trousers with a black hair line, and a form-fitting khaki coat. He received visits from many admirers at his table." Interestingly, a "nattily turned out" Syd Chaplin was also there, but "lunched with Hawaiian friends."4

*Lita had been in practical seclusion during this time. Three days after the premiere, the birth of Charlie Chaplin, Jr. was announced. His date of birth was given as June 28th, although he had actually been born on May 5th. Since Charlie and Lita had only been married 6 months, he paid the doctor $25,000 to falsify the birth certificate with a later date. In order to keep the birth a secret for another 7 weeks, Lita and the baby were hidden away--first in a cabin in the San Bernadino mountains and then in a house in Redondo Beach. 

1Rosalind Shaffer, "All The Old Guard of Movieland Sees Chaplin Premiere," Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1925
2David Robinson, Charlie Chaplin: His Life and Art, 1985
3Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1925
4Rosalind Shaffer, Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1925

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Happy birthday, Georgia Hale (June 25, 1900)

Here is part of an interview with Georgia from Kevin Brownlow & David Gill's documentary Unknown Chaplin (1983) where she discusses the original ending of The Gold Rush. I adore Georgia in this interview--blonde wig, false teeth, false eyelashes and all.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

With Argentinian cartoonist Ramón Columba at the Chaplin Studios, 1925

Chaplin is looking at an issue of Columba's comic magazine,
Paginas de Columba
A 1925 issue of the magazine shows a colorized photo of Columba, Chaplin, and Harry d'Arrast on the cover.
See original version of photo here. Note that Charlie is referred to as "Carlitos" Chaplin.
Columba's caricature of "Carlitos" from the same issue, with an inscription from Chaplin.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cinea, December 15th, 1922
According to Charlie (via my very loose translation): "It is sometimes better to take a dog than the devil by the tail."

The tail Charlie is pulling belongs to "Bill," a dog who appeared as an extra in A Dog's Life (1918) and was a Chaplin Studio pet for many years.

A Short, Short Story about Loyal Underwood

This article is a bit tongue-in-cheek but I never knew Loyal had a radio career. In fact, he spent a few years in the 1930s as a singing cowboy in a group called Loyal Underwood and the Arizona Wranglers (and later the Range Riders) who not only appeared on the radio but toured the country making personal appearances. Read more here.

Underwood started with Chaplin in 1916 (the article says his first film was Easy Street but other sources claim he was a "small guest" in The Count) & appeared in several films up to The Pilgrim (1922), his final appearance was in 1952's Limelight. One New York Times article has him working in the production office of the Chaplin studios in 1940. Underwood died in 1968 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Radio Doings, January 25, 1930

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day...

Charlie with son, Michael, in St. Tropez, 1956

Work, released June 21, 1915

“Most of the fun in Work, one of my very latest releases, comes through the efforts of a painter’s assistant to push a two-wheeled barrow loaded with materials. This idea came to me from a scene I witnessed, one that was not funny for the assistant, but very laughable for the bystanders. The man was trying to get up a hill, and the weight of the barrow kept pulling him up in the air, and letting him down again, until finally he was carried up in a half circle over his barrow wheel and the contents were spilled. I enlarged the idea, and the audiences shout with amusement.”
—From “How I Made My Success” by Charlie Chaplin, The Theater (September, 1915).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

With a visitor at the Lone Star Studios, 1917

Charlie is in costume for The Cure.

This photo was posted on Flickr a couple of years ago but has since been removed. The caption said the woman was "Aunt Norma."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

THE IMMIGRANT, released June 18th, 1917

Some sources give the release date as the 17th but it's really the 18th.

This was Chaplin's second to last film for the Mutual Film Corporation. The day before its release, he signed his first million-dollar contract with First National.

The rocking of the boat for the opening scenes was achieved by attaching
a pendulum to the tripod head of the camera.
There is a very similar scene between Bugs Bunny and Christopher Columbus
in the 1951 cartoon Hare We Go.
  Chaplin built the dining hall set on rockers so it would tilt back and forth.
These boat rocking tricks had previously been employed in Shanghaied (1915)

Charlie sees Edna for the first time when she enters the dining room.

The gun-through-the-leg gag was recycled from The New Janitor (1914).
The immigrants catch their first glimpse of the Statue Of Liberty.
The part of the waiter was originally played by Henry Bergman but Chaplin
didn't feel he was menacing enough so he replaced him with Eric Campbell and his diabolic eyebrows. 
The story goes that Chaplin did so many takes of Edna eating beans that she became ill.
Chaplin wrote in My Life In Pictures (1974):
"The Immigrant touched me more than any film I've made.
I thought the ending had quite a poetic feeling"

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Chaplin at a children's party in Berlin, March 1931


Charlie Chaplin at a children's party in Berlin 1932 [sic]

Stefan Lorant (left) presents Chaplin before the children of famous actors. To the right of Chaplin: Michael Kerr, the son of Alfred Kerr, in front of him, Vera Viola Veidt, the daughter of Conrad Veidt (Veidt and his wife, center, rear), far right: the actor Alexander Granach with his son.

Also in the photo is Chaplin's publicity agent, Carlyle Robinson, on the right in glasses behind Granach.