Friday, September 13, 2013

Chaplin with Chinese opera star Mei Lanfang, Shanghai, 1936

Chaplin first met Mei, who was noted for his portrayal of women, in Los Angeles in 1930 during the latter's tour of the U.S. (see photo here).  They would meet again six years later at a party given for Chaplin & Paulette Goddard at the International Hotel in Shanghai, hosted by Hu Die (aka "Butterfly Wu"). The story goes that Chaplin approached Mei and put his arm around him and said jokingly, "I remember when we met six years ago in Los Angeles, we both had dark hair. As you see, my hair is half white now, but I don't see any gray in yours, is this fair?" Mei returned the joke, saying, "That's because you work harder than I do: you write, direct and act in all your movies, and that turns one gray. I wish you'd take better care of yourself."

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