Monday, July 14, 2014

Chaplin with boxer Georges Carpentier, Paris, 1921


Lita Grey Chaplin was involved in a long affair with Carpentier, who was married, after her divorce from Charlie. One evening in 1931, Georges & Lita were kidnapped and robbed by four men with guns outside a New York City theater where Lita had just finished performing. The robbers had seen Lita's act and were attracted to her expensive jewelry. The couple were driven a mile in Lita's car before they were released unharmed.

18 comments:

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    1. Yes, they took them (I should have mentioned that). I don't know if she ever got them back.

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  2. How scary. something like that happened to a couple of different night club workers that I know. One was put in the trunk of his car after closing. I still think of his terror. It was close to Disney.

    It would be nice to see some pics of Lita doing a club date. I know she liked to sing.

    Carpentier was Jean Harlow's maiden name too..

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    1. I think there are some photos around of Lita performing. However you can see and hear her perform on a Vitaphone short called "Seasoned Greetings" from 1933. I haven't seen it but it's an extra on a DVD set for "Gold Diggers of 1933." I've been very tempted to buy it because I'd like to hear her sing (plus "Gold Diggers" is a favorite of mine). You can see some screenshots & a description of Lita's performance on the always interesting Greenbriar Picture Shows site:
      http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/2006/03/lita-you-fascinate-us-one-of-hottest.html

      Jean's real last name was Carpenter (without the i)

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  3. Hey, I own the Golddiggers of 1933 DVD set! I will check it out tonight- I always watched the cartoons they had in the extras, but didn't explore anything else - now I will!

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  4. The short "Seasoned Greetings" has nothing to do with Christmas.

    Lita is billed as "Lita Grey Chaplin" in HUGE letters over the title - she plays a card shop owner who is doing bad business next to a guy who is doing better because he keeps "going out of business".

    She invents a way to sell her greeting cards better by inserting records inside the cards (kind of like what's actually available now with cards playing songs!) . She has a back room in the shop where she has groups coming in to record different songs (a hillbilly act, another group singing "Petting in the Park", her own songs, etc).

    She sings - "I've got to sing a torch song" - (hence the connection to the Gold Diggers of 1933 movie). Then she sings "Sunny Weather" in a fantasy type sequence of her sitting by a lake. There are a bunch of overlaid sequences of her in a relationship with a guy, in lots of stages of romance and, of course, a lot of outfits. She then sings "Little Things" in a hospital scene with children.

    Lita's voice is DEEP - both her speaking and her singing voice (I didn't expect this, and I listened to her on some of those interviews she gave)- but her singing is quite passable. Her acting is fine, she doesn't seem stiff or uncomfortable on screen at all. She does come across a lot older than she actually was at the time, which in 1933 would have been about 25 or 26 - she looks more like she is in her mid to late thirties!

    The biggest surprise of the short is the appearance of 5 or 6 year old Sammy Davis Jr!! He does a whole comedy sequence after eating an edible record and needle (don't ask).

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    1. Thanks for the review! I've always thought that Lita had somewhat of a deep voice & I wondered if her singing voice would be as well. The only time I've seen her act (as an adult) is in a trailer for a drug exploitation film from the '40s called "The Devil's Sleep" (you can watch it on youtube). The film looks awful but Lita seemed to do fine, at least in the very short scenes that were shown.

      You can see Sammy Davis Jr in one of the still shots on the link I posted above. He's standing next to Lita. I wouldn't have known it was him if someone hadn't pointed him out in the comments section. He's so young!

      I'm going to have to buy this DVD now.

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    2. My copy of Gold Diggers arrived in the mail yesterday. I was anxious to see the short with Lita so I watched it last night.
      As we discussed earlier, she easily looks 35 instead of 25. My husband was surprised when I told him how young Lita actually was. I was also surprised by her singing voice which I thought was very natural and pleasant (the one song that was interspersed with scenes of marriage, including LIta in a wedding dress, and a baby was very strange). There was something awkward about her though. I know it was almost ten years after The Gold Rush but I tried to picture her as the Dance Hall Girl. I couldn't see it. I recently found an interview with Chaplin from 1924 when Lita was still his leading lady. He describes her as being a tomboy, saying that she had a "boyish charm." I can see that here. She seemed sort of "mannish" to me with her deep voice and even though she's not fat, she's big. Besides all that, I couldn't help but have sympathy for her since her life only gets worse after 1933.

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    3. yeah, I found myself thinking what was it that Chaplin found attractive in her? I guess the tomboy quality. I agree with the awkwardness, a stiffness on screen, but not too bad. The age thing was what I immediately honed in on. That was a hard living looking 25.

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    4. I agree, she wasn't overly awkward. There is also something endearing about her. She's much more mature here and the innocent, virginal qualities that must have attracted Chaplin are long gone by this point.

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  5. I thought that was Sammy in the shot with Lita. I was just thinking about him yesterday. I have seen his clips dancing on the stage when he was four years old. I was thinking of his Mr. Bojangles and cried.

    Thanks JustMe. I enjoyed your review.
    I have seen two of Lita's movies in full. I think her style must be more like Dietrich. 'Falling in love again...I can't help it." Her son Charlie said she always had a wonderful stage presence. Even at home sitting in the livingroom.

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  6. She was quite good, but I could not help thinking how old she looked for her actual age. I could see how her stage act could have been successful, her presence was strong. I was hoping Sammy would dance, but he did not in this short - which was about 20 minutes long in total. I've seen him in other shorts dancing though, and enjoyed them very much. Jessica, I actually ended up watching Gold Diggers of 33 after viewing the shorts! I've seen in hundreds of times....but...it was in the my player! and it was queued up! So I enjoyed an evening of WB wisecracks - god I love Ned Sparks!

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    1. He's great. I think he's in Lady For A Day as well, which we were just talking about.

      Lita does look old for her age, probably due to her alcoholism. I know it made Oona look older than her years too.

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    2. Sorry for the off-topic but ... did Oona suffer from alcoholism during her life with Charlie ? Or after his death ?

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    3. Yes, before and after his death, although it seemed to get worse after his death, or perhaps it was just more out in the open.

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    4. Wow i had no idea .... what did Charlie think about it ?

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    5. Rachel Ford (CC's business manager) is quoted in Patrice Chaplin's book as saying that Charlie was well aware of Oona's drinking. She would lock herself in her room and drink and Charlie would try to get her out. Not much else is known what he thought of it. I'm sure it horrified him. He was never a fan of alcohol or alcoholics.

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