Monday, March 25, 2013

World Tour (1931-32) Revisited: Boar hunt in Normandy, March 25th, 1931

Shortly after Charlie arrived in Paris, he took a side trip to Normandy to go boar hunting with the Duke of Westminster. At the train station, a reporter asked him about the hunt: "I shall enjoy [it] but I shouldn't like to shoot anything. I am too soft-hearted."

This would be the first time Charlie had been on a horse in years and he was concerned about whether or not he could stay on the animal and what he would do if he were actually confronted with a boar.  These thoughts kept him awake the night before the hunt.

Adding to his worries was the fact that he didn't bring the proper clothing and had to borrow a jacket & gloves from the Duke, who was twice his size. "The duke's gloves were so large I found I could close my fist inside without disturbing the fingers," Charlie recalled.

The Duke was informed that boar tracks had been found so the hunting party drove forty miles to the location.  They had to wait another hour in the cold for the horses and dogs to arrive. The first horse that was presented to Charlie “reared up on her hind legs, cavorted and pranced around, then sidled towards me as though desiring to sweep me off the road. But I was too quick for her. I was behind one of the cars in a jiffy.” Charlie was then brought another, more well-behaved horse. 

Charlie hiding from the horse, illustration from "A Comedian Sees The World,"
A Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1933
The hunt lasted for hours and no boar materialized. It also left Charlie in terrible shape physically. When he finally dismounted from the horse, his knees gave way completely and he struggled to stand up.

He returned to the Duke's chateau where his valet, Kono, was waiting for him. After dinner, they left for Paris where Charlie was eager to take a Turkish bath. "It was four in the morning before I emerged from the manipulations of a masseur," recalled Charlie. 

For days, he could not sit or stand without groaning and had to eat his meals standing up at the fireplace.  He decided then and there that he would confine his future participation in sports to "tiddledy winks."

"A Comedian Sees The World, "A Woman's Home Companion, November 1933
Charlie Chaplin: King Of Tragedy by Gerith von Ulm
The Daily News, Perth, May 5th, 1931

This post is part of my series, World Tour Revisited, in which I follow Chaplin on his travels around the world in 1931-32.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great story - this peaks my interest more in getting my hands on a copy of "A Comedian Sees the World".