Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy 100th birthday, Norman Lloyd!

Costume test photos of Norman Lloyd as Bodalink in Limelight (1952)

Lloyd met Chaplin sometime in the l940s through Tim Durant. He became a regular visitor to Chaplin's home, mostly due to their mutual love of tennis.

One of my favorite Lloyd anecdotes involves the time he tried to steal Chaplin's cane out of a closet at the studio:

One night we went down to the studio and we went into the cottage that had his dressing room and I just couldn't resist it. I opened the closet and I saw one of the canes. And I thought, "Well, Norman, this is the time you're going to steal this cane." I reached in and began to lift it out. I hadn't figured a way of getting it out of there when Charlie came up beside me and said, "Ah, yes," and gently took it from me and just put it back. I had the feeling I wasn't the first one who had tried that. As he put it back, I looked down and came upon one of his secrets. There were the oversized shoes, the most famous shoes in the world. But in the oversized shoes was another pair of shoes, which were the correct size for Charlie's feet, so that when he walked the most famous walk in the world, in the oversized shoes, he actually was in another pair of shoes which gave him control. (interview with Lloyd for Unknown Chaplin
In the early 1950s, Chaplin and Lloyd came close to making the first film version of They Shoot Horses Don't They? Chaplin revealed to Lloyd that he had been to dance marathons and they fascinated him. He knew about the book, written by Horace McCoy, and had ideas about it long before Lloyd had read it. Around 1950, they purchased the screen rights. The deal was that Chaplin would write and produce and Lloyd would direct. Chaplin wanted his son, Sydney, for the male lead. Marilyn Monroe, a newcomer at the time & friend of Charlie, Jr. and Sydney, was considered for the role of Gloria Beatty. Lloyd recalled that Chaplin's ideas for the film were "so moving, so Chaplinesque. The leading character took on the flavor of Chaplin." (Lloyd, Stages Of Life)  Sadly, the project fell through after Chaplin was barred from returning to the States in 1952.  A film was eventually made in 1969, directed by Sydney Pollack with Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin in the leading roles.



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