Monday, September 10, 2012

America, I am coming to conquer you!

 On the boat to America with the Fred Karno Company, 1910:

Back row L-R: Albert Austin, Bert Williams, Fred Palmer, unknown, Frank Melrose. Front row L-R: Stan Laurel (then Jefferson), Fred Karno, Jr., Muriel Palmer, Charlie (framed in the life preserver), Arthur Dando (behind), Mike Asher & Amy (Minister) Reeves.
L-R: Alf Reeves, his wife, Amy, Muriel Palmer, & Charlie. 

Stan Laurel had vivid memories of the crossing:
The Cairnrona was a cattle boat but it didn’t carry any cattle unless you call us cattle, and sometimes that’s just how we felt. For that matter, the food did mostly taste like fodder; and the weather was pretty rough. But we had fun because we were all in a great business, we were young and we were delighted to be going where we were going. I’ll never forget the details of what happened next. We were all on deck, sitting, watching the land in the mist. Suddenly, Charlie ran to the railing, took off his hat, waved it and shouted, “America, I am coming to conquer you! Every man, woman and child shall have my name on their lips—Charles Spencer Chaplin!” We all booed him affectionately, and he bowed to us formally and sat down again. Years later whenever I met any of the old [Karno] troupe, that was the one thing about those years we remembered the best, and we used to marvel on how right Charlie had been.

(Stan Laurel quoted in Charlie Chaplin by John McCabe)

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