Monday, September 9, 2013

World Tour Revisited: Tennis in Biarritz

Wherever Charlie traveled on his world tour (or any of his vacations for the rest of his life), he would always find a way to play tennis, a game he loved. Georgia Hale, Chaplin's leading lady in The Gold Rush, takes credit for introducing the game to Charlie. It was during their relationship, which was in progress before he left for Europe, that he had a tennis court built on the grounds of his Hollywood home. According to Georgia, she was given run of the house while Charlie was on vacation & played tennis there during his absence.*

During Charlie's stay in Biarritz in 1931, he played a "match" against three French tennis champions:
After a tennis match in which Cochet, Lacoste, and Martin Plaa played, the audience asked for a game between Chaplin and the champions. Charlie soon complied, and since he was sure to lose, he chose to make a joke of it: he slipped deliberately, ran after balls out of bounds, turned several times around himself and gesticulated so comically with his racket that the audience couldn't help splitting their sides. This was one of the most successful and original matches the champions ever played. (May Reeves, The Intimate Charlie Chaplin)


Chaplin poses between Henri Cochet (on his right) and Martin Plaa.
With Rene Lacoste.
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*Georgia never heard from Charlie during the entire 18 months he was away from Hollywood. This neglect would mark the end of their relationship upon his return and they wouldn't see each other again for another ten years. 

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