Friday, September 23, 2016

Hey there,

Sorry to be missing in action again. I've been having some dental work done recently (extractions, root canals, you name it) so I haven't been feeling too great. I hope to be back in action again soon.

Have a good weekend.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Chaplin and others at the premiere of THE GOLD RUSH, June 1925

This photo is currently up for sale on eBay.* It appears to be from the Hollywood premiere of The Gold Rush.

Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford are at far left with Gloria Swanson. I'm not sure who the women are on either side of Charlie. That might be Norma Talmadge at far right. Someone more knowledgable may be able to identify them. I think there is something a little fake-looking about this photo. The background looks airbrushed out. Or it could be a composite of individual photos from the premiere.

*The eBay seller lists Paulette Goddard as being in the photo. Of course, she is not. And the photo they include of the back is for a different picture.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Day By Day: 1936

Friday, September 18th - Sunday, September 27th: Charlie and Paulette attend the Pacific Southwest Tennis Tournament at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. 

With Fred Perry (above & below) who was defeated by Don Budge in the singles championship.
Charlie & Fred seem to be admiring Paulette's bracelet.
Hollywood magazine, December 1936.
 Paulette is also holding a camera in the top photo.
In this photo with Mary Astor, Paulette is wearing a dress that she wore
 during her trip to the Far East with Charlie earlier in the year.

Day By Day: 1936: An account of one year of Charlie Chaplin's life.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Chaplin's "last message to America"

Chaplin photographed by Richard Avedon on September 13th, 1952, his last day in the U.S.

Avedon described the session in an interview with the New York Times in 1991:
On the day before Charlie Chaplin left the United States for what turned out to be exile in Europe, he telephoned the photographer Richard Avedon. Not believing it was Chaplin, Mr. Avedon told the caller, "This is President Roosevelt," and hung up.
For months, Mr. Avedon had been writing to the actor asking for a sitting, drawing no response. But in his next call on that day in 1952, Mr. Chaplin was convincing, and a meeting was set.
Mr. Avedon recalled that when Chaplin arrived at the studio, he told himself: "This is Charlie Chaplin! There is a Charlie Chaplin!"
Mr. Avedon sent all his helpers out of the studio. The two worked alone. "I was a wreck," he said. "I did the pictures as simply as I could."
"Are you finished?" Mr. Chaplin asked. "I could do something for you." He bent down, concealing his face, and put a finger on each side of his head. He came up with a violently grotesque expression, then turned it into a smile.
"This was his last message to America," Mr. Avedon said. "The sitter offered the photographer this gift that arrives once in a lifetime."

--NYT, September 15th, 1991
An alternate, less commonly-seen, pose from the session.

Monday, September 12, 2016

With Maurice Chevalier in Juan-les-Pins, Summer 1931

Joyeux anniversaire, M. Chevalier (September 12th, 1888)

Playing boules.

Photos from "Charlie Chaplin Intime" by May Reeves, Voila magazine, May 26th, 1934

Saturday, September 10, 2016

DAY BY DAY: 1936

Thursday, September 10th: Charlie and Paulette attend the premiere of the play "Everyman" at the Hollywood Bowl.

Other guests in the Chaplin Box were (counter-clockwise from bottom right): Anita Loos, her niece Mary Anita Loos, Robert Cobb, owner of the Brown Derby (and creator of the "Cobb Salad") and John Emerson, husband of Anita.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hey guys,

I'm taking a bit of a break but I'll be back in a few days. I hope everyone is having a good week.



Sunday, September 4, 2016

THE COUNT, released 100 years ago today

The Count was a struggle for Chaplin from the beginning. He built a set, as he often did, "with not an idea in my head."1 This lack of inspiration caused him a great deal of anxiety: "When I arrive in the morning I'm usually gloomy, especially when I haven't any idea what I'm going to do in a scene...," he told journalist Grace Kingsley in August 1916, "tears bedew my eyes as I put on my makeup, and I weep sadly as I step out on the stage."2

His first plea for help went out to his brother, Sydney, who was in New York at the time. How much Charlie counted on him for brainstorming gags and scenario possibilities is evident in their correspondence when Syd was away.
Wiring him at the Hotel Bonta in New York City, July 31, while he would have been filming The Count, Charlie pleaded: "Have you any suggestions for scenes? Have dining room and ballroom. I am playing a count but an imposter to win an heiress but cannot get story straight. Wire me some gags if possible. Playing in Chaplin make-up in fancy dress ball." Charlie's problems with this story continued, however, causing him to film the mostly one-man-show One A.M. in the meantime. By August, the situation was so dire that Charlie's butler and Man Friday, Tom Harrington, wired Sydney again:
"Charlie is very depressed condition for past two weeks. Doesn't seem able to get mind around to his story. He wishes nearly every other day that you were here...Think it very important for his future success for you to drop everything in New York and come here immediately at least three or four weeks. Charlie hasn't been sick but whenever he gets into difficult situation, which doesn't work out satisfactorily, he always wishes Syd were here."
Five days later Charlie wired his brother himself: "The last two pictures have given me great worry and I need you here to help me. Drop everything and arrange to be in Los Angeles by August 12 to help me in directing next picture. Wire answer immediately."3
Why was Sydney tormenting his brother this way?  It seems Sydney felt "used" by Mutual and that they weren't paying him what he thought he was worth. A settlement seems to have been reached because Sydney eventually returned to California.4

The Count's ballroom scene appears to have caused Chaplin the most stress. He told Grace Kingsley:
"And as for these gray hairs"--indicating those about his temple over his right ear--"I got them all the other day trying to be funny in a ballroom scene. I think any comedian who started out to be funny in a ballroom would have his career blighted at the outset." 5
Illustration by Gale for Grace Kingsley article, Los Angeles Sunday Times, Aug. 20th, 1916 

Charlie wasn't the only one driven crazy by this scene. Chester Courtney, an old music hall acquaintance who had been given a job at the studio, recalled:
If anyone were to play "And They Call It Dixieland" in my hearing I should run, screaming! It nearly lost me my sanity, thanks to Charlie. He kept a studio band playing it for weeks learning to dance with Edna Purviance."6
Despite all the problems, The Count was well-received among critics and fans, who had been disappointed with his last film One AM.  The public felt that Chaplin had made a come back of sorts.
The inimitable comedian returns to the type of motion picture farce in which he gained his fame and is seen in his familiar baggy trousers, cutaway coat at least two sizes too small, his dinky derby, diminutive moustache and slender cane, not forgetting the celebrated brogans.7

1 Charles Chaplin,  My Autobiography, The Bodley Head, 1964
2Grace Kingsley, "Beneath The Mask: Witty, Wistful, Serious Is The Real Charlie Chaplin," Los Angeles Sunday Times, August 20th, 1916
3 Lisa K. Stein, Syd Chaplin: A Biography, McFarland, 2011
5 Grace Kingsley, "Beneath The Mask: Witty, Wistful, Serious Is The Real Charlie Chaplin," Los Angeles Sunday Times, August 20th, 1916
6Chester Courtney, "The Real Charles Chaplin," Film Weekly, Feb. 1931
7Moving Picture World, September 2nd, 1916

Saturday, September 3, 2016

"Studio closed. Labor Day"

This production report shows that the Chaplin Studio was closed on Labor Day, September 1st, 1952. It also records Chaplin's final days in Hollywood--Sept. 5th being the last day he ever set foot in the studio he built in 1918. The next day, he left California for London for the premiere of Limelight, not to return until 1972.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Aloha, Kakou!

Chaplin visits the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, October 1917

Chaplin aboard the Mauna Kea, Oct. 13th, 1917

The following article describes Chaplin's departure from Honolulu aboard the Mauna Kea bound for Hilo and the volcano.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 15, 1917

Chaplin and Demosthenes "Monty" Lycurgus, the owner of the Volcano House Hotel.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 27, 1917

More photos at the volcano. With Chaplin are Edna Purviance (seated), Rob Wagner (in white), and Tom Harrington (in dark jacket behind Edna).

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Day By Day: 1936

Thursday, August 27th: Film Daily reports that the Chaplin Studios are being wired for sound. 

Friday, August 28th: Chaplin announces that he has purchased the films rights to the D.L. Murray novel, Regency.

It seems that Chaplin was already beginning to lose interest in "Production No. 6" (probably the Stowaway story). He would be consumed with the Regency project well into 1937.

Also noteworthy in the following article is that the Chaplin Studios were being used as "headquarters" for the upcoming Hollywood Bowl production of Everyman. The cast rehearsed on the studio stage and the sets were built on the lot.

Los Angeles Times, August 28th, 1936

Saturday, August 29th - Sunday, August, 30th: Charlie and Paulette spend the weekend at Catalina.

Catalina Islander, September 3rd, 1936

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Moments With Chaplin

Lillian Ross, a longtime writer for the New Yorker magazine, met Charlie and Oona at a Hollywood party in 1948.* She remained a close family friend until Charlie's death in 1977. The following is an excerpt from her book Moments With Chaplin (1978):
Some of the moments I remember from Vevey had the atmosphere of something staged, real though they were. 
Charlie Chaplin heading for the tennis court, wearing white flannel trousers and a tennis shirt with a collar--a white cable knit sweater dashingly slung over his back, the sleeves tied in front. 
Charlie Chaplin playing tennis, racquet in his left hand, running for every ball, not liking to lose, and showing his dissatisfaction every time he lost a point, giving his all to the game, in total concentration, and never, never losing track of the score....
Charlie Chaplin sharing a bowl of peanuts  with three-year-old Annette. Chaplin's face would be down over the bowl, and he would be glaring in top performance, leaving no doubt as to who would get the last peanut. 

Charlie Chaplin in a long terry-cloth robe, his pure-white hair disheveled, leading a visitor at eight o'clock on a late-summer morning down his lawn to his swimming pool, all the white looking whiter in contrast to the shadows cast by the trees on the smooth green lawn.
Charlie Chaplin at the pool, saying, "I go up and down the pool once then out. I keep the water warm. It's not easy to go from a warm bed into a cold pool. I like it as long as it's warm."
Poolside at the Manoir.
L-R: Rex Harrison, CC (in white robe), Jerry Epstein, and Kay Kendall.
 Charlie Chaplin sitting in front of a big fire in the fireplace of his living room for a quick drink before dinner.  Gin-and-tonic usually. "I look forward to that one drink at night," he would say....
Charlie Chaplin comforting Victoria, at the age of eleven, after she had seen "Limelight" for the first time. ("I couldn't help crying at the end, when you died," Victoria said to her father. "Oh, my dear," Chaplin said, on the verge of tears himself. "Oh, my dear. That's sweet. So sweet.")
With the author.
 Charlie Chaplin at the piano in his living room, playing music he had composed for his pictures, humming along with his own playing, while his face expressed every emotion experienced by everybody in each picture, and simultaneously talking: "I can't play anybody's music but my own. I never took a lesson. I never even saw a piano up close until I was twenty-one. As soon as I touched the piano, I could play. The same with the violin."
Charlie Chaplin, at five o'clock in the morning, heading quietly for his study, to work alone on his autobiography, as he did every morning (In 1962, on an afternoon in early September, I sat with him on his terrace as he read parts of his book manuscript to me, the tortoiseshell-rimmed glasses a bit down on his nose, his reading dramatic to the point of melodrama, his devotion to his subject unself-conscious and complete. "I use Fowler's 'The King's English' as my guide," he told me during a breather. "I do all my own editing. I'm very particular. I like to see a clean page, with no erasures. I'm entirely self-taught.")

*Ross is still alive and in 2008 interviewed Charlie's grandson, James Thiérrée.