Thursday, October 17, 2013

World Tour Revisited: London, October 1931 + a couple of "leftovers"

I haven't posted much about Charlie's time in London so far because not much is known about his activities during the month of October. All I know for sure is that he had dinner with the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland at Ciro's one evening. He was also spotted at a "motor show" where he looked "very tired."

It is also unclear when May Reeves joined him in London since the press does not mention her arrival nor her presence at any event with Chaplin. As you may recall, Charlie and May separated after their stay in Biarritz in mid-September. May was going to Austria to visit her parents, while Charlie moved on to England. When she finally does join him in London, she surprises him by arriving two days earlier than he expected which didn't bring the reaction from him that she had hoped: "I shouldn't have surprised him!" she later wrote. "His first exclamation astonished me: 'Oh, how strange; I'm not moved at all.' What hard-hardedness! I almost wanted to get back on the train. But a minute later he leaped into my arms and murmured, 'Oh my sweet, my beautiful one, how happy I am to be with you again.'" Thereafter, they "shared a room at the Carlton and live like a married couple."

May's presence with Charlie in London is noteworthy because she was one of only two women that Charlie ever showed around his beloved hometown. His wife, Oona, was the other.

Things pick up for Charlie in November and December 1931, including his induction into the Grand Order Of The Water Rats & the Ice Carnival benefit with the Prince of Wales. I will have more on those events in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I will share some rare photos that my friend Dominique Dugros recently brought to my attention. Had I seen them sooner, I would have included them in my Leftovers post from last month. The photos, which were published in an April 1931 issue of the magazine, Sur La Riviera, show Charlie meeting Frank J. Gould upon his arrival in Nice on March 31st, 1931:

Chaplin shaking hand with Mr. Gould.
Syd Chaplin is at far right. Gould was Chaplin's host during his stay in Nice.
 He is also holding an issue of Sur La Riviera.
Mr. Gould's wife, Florence, is in the middle.
 Mr. Gould was previously married to Hetty Kelly's sister, Edith.


  1. I love this blog! It's a highlight in my day, and I'm quite sure I'm not the only one! Great work, Jessica. The world tour posts are among my favourites, all the anecdotes are fascinating reading, I must say.

    1. Thank you so much! I put a lot of work into the World Tour posts, so it's nice to get some feedback on them. I'm glad you enjoy the blog. Keep in touch!


    2. Don't worry. I'm planning on joining the hen harem that post here regularly.

    3. Ha ha the hen harem - so true...

  2. Jess, whatever happened to May after writing "Charlie Chaplin Intime" ? Did she just fade back into obscurity?

    1. Yes, it seems that way. According to Constance Kuriyama, who translated the English version of May's book, there is no trace of her after 1935, when her book was published. Her co-author, Claire Goll, fled Europe to escape the Nazis in 1939, but nobody knows what became of May.

  3. Lost to history, I guess. She did get her 15 minutes, though years before Warhol coined that phrase. Thanks for responding!

  4. Mary
    A fascinating blog. Love it. Do you have any more information about Chaplin's stay in Nice in late March 1931. He was hosted at the Palais de la Mediterranee by Frank and Florence Jay Gould. I was fascinated by the photo of FJG holding the magazine Sur La Riviera. Any more photos? I am researcvhing the Palais and its interior design. Many thanks.

  5. Hi,

    Charlie actually stayed at the Majestic Hotel, which was also owned by Gould. However he did occasionally attend gatherings at the Palace including this one in which he met Spanish singer Carlos Gardel:.


    Here is a little more info and photos showing Charlie's arrival in Nice:


    I can provide some other photos, as well as larger versions of the ones in the links above.

    I hope this is helpful.