Friday, February 14, 2014

70 years ago today...

Chaplin with his attorney Jerry Giesler.

On February 14th, 1944, Charlie was booked and fingerprinted for violation of the Mann Act (transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes)1 and conspiracy to deprive Joan Barry, his former protegé, of her civil rights. Clad in a yellow sweater, white coat with purple handkerchief, and brown pants, Charlie looked nervous and annoyed and at first refused to be fingerprinted with cameramen in the room, declaring, "I'm exercising my prerogative; if I do, it's under duress."

Prints were eventually made of all ten of his fingers, a lengthy process which took twenty minutes. Afterward, he fumbled as he dipped his pen in ink to sign his arrest card.

He emerged shaken and was lead quickly to the washroom. His attorney, Jerry Giesler, following him with a gasoline-soaked towel. As Charlie removed the ink from his fingers, Giesler told reporters: "He doesn't have anything to say."

After the formalities, Charlie walked out of the building, past hundreds of curious onlookers & reporters. One elderly woman turned to her companion and said audibly: "The rat!" Charlie ignored her, proceeded to his car, and drove away with his attorney.


1The indictment stated that Chaplin "feloniously" transported Joan Barry to New York in October 1942 "with the intent and purpose of engaging in illicit sex relations." As Chaplin's lawyer pointed out during the trial, Joan would have willingly had sex with Charlie at any time without having to schlep her to New York to do it.  

New York Times, Feb. 15th, 1944
Des Moines Register, Feb. 15th, 1944

Read the complete story of Chaplin's Mann Act trial "as it happened" here.


  1. My goodness, they followed him into the damn washroom?? That's really bad - look at them piled up in the doorway, those aren't just photographers trying to get a photo - that is just a mob.

  2. What a travesty of justice and the shame of what was done to Chaplin. Calling him a "Cockney Cad" during the trial and allowing the press in to see the humiliation of him being fingerprinted. Parts of our government, Hoover's FBI, were out to destroy him and label him as a communist. Even a man who idolized Chaplin called him a little commie. That was Walt Disney after Chaplin was barred reentry in 52. For a man who brought laughter and joy to millions around the world to be treated this way is too much to handle for me.

  3. The sixth photo of him is really kind saddening. The way he is looking up at his attorney makes him look lost. The whole trial was stupid anyway but that face makes me want to hug him.