Wednesday, September 18, 2013

World Tour Revisited: Charlie returns to London, September 18th, 1931

Charlie arrived in London from Paris late in the evening on the 17th aboard the Golden Arrow and drove to the Carlton Hotel virtually unnoticed, a far cry from his arrival from America, nearly nine months ago to the day, in February.

May Reeves did not accompany Charlie to London, but chose to visit her parents instead. She felt her relationship with Charlie had "lost its rhythm," and that a temporary separation would do them good. Charlie agreed and gave her a "ten-day-leave." 1

Charlie (left) takes a stroll along the Embankment, September 18th, 1931

When Charlie awoke on the 18th, he met with reporters in his suite at the Carlton where he answered questions about his stay in London, his next film, the identity of "Mysterious Mary" and whether or not she would be in his next film. Charlie, who "seemed genuinely shy" and "twisted about a good deal on the sofa," 2 wasn't forthcoming with answers, saying only that in his next film he would still play the Tramp but would not speak in it as the Tramp but as another character, an American.  Referring to "Mary" (aka May), he only said that she was not with him in London and it was too early to say whether she would be in his next picture. Charlie was also vague with reporters about his immediate plans in London saying only that he would like to visit Manchester because he once lived there and attended school, but could not remember the name of it.* At the time, Charlie intended to stay in his hometown only a few days, but ended up staying until the end of December.
As an epilogue to the scene with the journalists, Mr. Chaplin came outside the Carlton Hotel and allowed himself to be photographed buying a newspaper from the one-legged news-seller who sits in a wooden box at the corner, and for a bit Mr. Chaplin seemed the more embarrassed of the two.3

Charlie buys a newspaper from the one-legged vendor outside the Carlton.

Coming up: Charlie spends the weekend with Winston Churchill.


1 May Reeves, The Intimate Charlie Chaplin

2 The Manchester Guardian, September 19th, 1931

3 ibid

*Charlie was enrolled at the Armitage Street School in Manchester in 1899.

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