Saturday, February 14, 2015

Three Minutes with Charlie Chaplin

NY Evening World, 8/31/21

From the New York Evening World, August 31, 1921:

By Marguerite Mooers Marshall
Charlie Chaplin, the playboy of the movies, Charlie of the funny feet, the trained mustache, the incredible headgear, handles a three-minute interview with all the care he does NOT bestow on custard pies and cops. Charlie is ever so polite about it, but nevertheless he acts as if he thought The Evening World’s hot weather test in mental speed were a bomb of some sort that might go off in his hands. When I saw the brown-eyed [sic], debonair, soft-voiced little comedian in the theatre lobby just after the rehearsal of the next release of his friend Mary Pickford and just before the showing of the newest picture of his friend Douglas Fairbanks, he leaned against the wall for support, wiggled his fingers nervously and took his full three minutes to answer the fifteen questions I had prepared.
FIRST MINUTE.
Gains on Schedule, but Parries Most Thrusts.
It was exactly 17 minutes past 1 when I asked:
Q. No. 1—What is it that makes you so funny?
Charlie Chaplin (grinning bashfully, so that he showed most of his very
white and even teeth, and looking off into space, somewhere over my left
shoulder)—I don’t know—ask the kids.
Q. No. 2—Ought movie salaries to go down?
Charlie Chaplin (straightening his drooping shoulders, an indignant
inflection in the soft voice)—Certainly not!
Q. No. 3—Is the Bolshevik Government going to last in Russia?
Charlie Chaplin—I do not know.
Q. No. 4—Why don’t you want to marry again?
Charlie Chaplin (who was recently quoted as saying that he didn’t, but
who seems to have changed his mind—girls, here’s your chance!)—Who says
that I don’t? Quoting me to that effect was a mistake. I certainly do want
to marry again, very much!
Q. No. 5—What sort of woman do you like best?
Charlie Chaplin (again grinning embarrassedly and tying his fingers into
bow knots)—Now, that’s hard to answer; I really couldn’t say; I couldn’t
even tell whether she’s blond or brunette; I couldn’t answer that.
Q. No. 6—Are you in favor of an Irish republic?
Charlie Chaplin (determinedly playing safe)—I prefer to be discreet and
not commit myself.
The first minute was gone and we were one answer ahead of the average
called for by the time schedule.
SECOND MINUTE.
Slows Down His Answers, but Holds to Schedule.
Q. No. 7—Should women smoke cigarettes?
Charlie Chaplin (hesitating, lips moving nervously, then smiling
diplomatically)—That depends on the woman.
Q. No. 8—Do you believe in national censorship of the movies?
Charlie Chaplin (repeating the question to gain time and thinking hard)
—Do I believe in national censorship? Yes—if it’s intelligent.
Q. No. 9—What do you do with all your money?
Charlie Chaplin (the hundred candle-power grin again turned on)—Pay my
taxes—and spend some now and then.
Q. No. 10—What should the Government do to help the unemployed?
Charlie Chaplin (who takes a decidedly serious, non-facetious interest
to labor and social problems)—They should do a great deal—so much that I
couldn’t begin to cover the subject even if I took the whole time you allow
for the interview.
The second minute was up and we had lost our one-answer lead owing to
the comedian’s habit of stopping to think before he spoke.
THIRD MINUTE.
Finishes Exactly on Time and Seems Glad It’s Over.
Q. No. 11—What is the easiest way to make people laugh?
Charlie Chaplin (with modest hesitation, although you’d think him
qualified to answer this one)—Make them happy, I guess—but somebody else
could answer that question a good deal better than I.
Q. No. 12—If you were not a movie star, what would you like to be?
Charlie Chaplin (with a quiet chuckle)—Night watchman.
Q. No. 13—How many custard pies have you ruined since the beginning of
your career—a million?
Charlie Chaplin—Oh, not as many as that. Say a thousand!
Q. No. 14—What is your candid opinion of the Volstead act?
Charlie Chaplin (the laugh in his eyes, as well as on his lips, and
looking me straight in the face for almost the first time during the
interview)—Of the Volstead act? You must excuse me—I don’t use such
language!
Q. No. 15—When are you going to play Hamlet?
Charlie Chaplin (although this role is said to be his dearest ambition)
—I’d rather read it. What I really want in my future work is to do as I
please—to follow my own whim!
The interview and the three minutes were over. Charlie seemed glad the
bomb had not exploded!

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