Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Third Liberty Loan Tour: Chaplin gives his final speeches in New York & then returns to California

Back in New York, Chaplin appeared at his final war bond rally on April 30th, 1918 at City Hall Park. It was another mob scene and additional police reserves had to be called in.

In his final speech, he told the audience that he had "gone into hock to buy Liberty Bonds":
"But what do I care? Money is nothing. A few years ago I was broke. I didn't have a nickel, but I was happier then than I am now. When I was broke I didn't give a --- what happened and was therefore contented. The war is teaching us to become real human beings. The money we are spending to buy Liberty Bonds is not being used to prolong the war, but to end it victoriously. I've put $100,000 into them. Who will put $50 into a bond?"
A man stepped up to one of the booths. 
"Your name please," said Chaplin.
"Tom McNulty," was the reply.
"That's a good Hungarian name," said Charlie, getting a big laugh. 1
Again, he offered the ladies kisses for $100 bonds & marriage for $1,000 bonds. "Isn't that fair enough?" he said. Chaplin put the crowd in such good humor that "subscribers fairly fell over each other to reach the bond booth." When a man asked him to sign his bond, Chaplin laughed and replied, "Imagine Charlie Chaplin having to sign a United States Government bond to make it valid in this man's eyes. There are only two people in the world that can get away with it, me and the kaiser, and they are going to stop him soon." 2

He concluded his duties for the Liberty Loan on May 1st when he gave a short talk in the men's restaurant of the Hotel Astor.
He was introduced by Captain Bealley, a British line officer now in this country recuperating from the effects of wounds received on the Flanders front.
Captain Bealley told of the many times he and his fellow-fighters had laughed away their troubles in the little temporary theaters behind the trenches watching "Charlie's" antics on the screen.
"He made us laugh when it often seemed that nothing else could," Captain Bealley declared. "And I for one hope that the authorities will realize that he is of far greater value as a gloom-chaser than as a fighter. In my opinion and the opinion of thousands of others at the front it would be little short of a calamity to cut short the output of Mr. Chaplin's inimitable comedies." 3
"Tired, but smiling," Chaplin arrived back in Los Angeles on May 12th, after having sold over 50 million dollars in war bonds.4 The tour was not Chaplin's only contribution to the bond effort. Later in that year, he made a propaganda film called The Bond, featuring Edna Purviance, Albert Austin, Dorothy Rosher, and his brother Sydney as the Kaiser.

Looking back on the tour, Chaplin said it was a "wonderful experience..."
Everywhere people turned out by the thousands, yes, tens of thousands. And if any cynic thinks the public was more interested in us [Charlie, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford] than the Liberty Loan, I'm sorry, for we've all got to get interested in this governmental financial support if we are to carry through the war successfully. Film stars we have with us always, but the opportunity to do our own big bit, to make our own sacrifice when we want to make it, doesn't come often in a lifetime; it's a matter of pride to us that we were able to grasp the opportunity when it came. 5
I'll close with a photo sent to me by my friend, Dominique Dugros, showing Chaplin at a bond rally in Wilson, NC on April 12th, 1918 where thousands braved sleet, snow, and rain to hear him speak in a tobacco warehouse.


1New York Evening World, April 30, 1918
2Durham Morning Herald, May 1, 1918
3Moving Picture World, May 11, 1918
4Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1918
5Chaplin, "Why I Left My Mustache Behind," Film Fun, June 1918

1 comment:

  1. Amazing that this man, from Britain raised 50 million dollars in war bonds for the U.S. in 1918 and was chased out of this country in the early fifties for communist suspicions. It was our FBI that did it to him. Shame on the government in those days for breaking his heart like that. SHAME!!!!