Showing posts with label Fred Karno Company. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fred Karno Company. Show all posts

Friday, September 11, 2015

Chaplin drank real booze on stage as Inebriate

This 1911 article also reveals a "peculiar incident" with a "Miss Someone" in London, and that Charlie was hailed as the clog dancer of England.

Winnipeg Tribune, September 8th, 1911 (click to enlarge)

A couple of months later, he told the Oakland Tribune: "I very seldom take a drink off stage. I do insist, however, that the stuff I sip in the act is real; that I need Dutch courage, but I'm strong for realism."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fred Karno Company

Possibly aboard the Cairnrona in 1910--Chaplin's first trip to America.

L-R: Fred Karno, Jr., Chaplin, Arthur Dando, ??, Albert Austin, and Stan Laurel.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chaplin in a scene from the Fred Karno sketch, "A Night In An English Music Hall"

Winnipeg Tribune, March 2nd, 1912
Amy Minister was the wife of Alf Reeves, who managed Karno's American company and eventually became Chaplin's studio manager.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


On November 12th, 1913, Chaplin was most likely in Colorado with the Fred Karno Company performing "A Night In A London Club." This was one of his final performances with the troupe. His last appearance would be in Kansas City on November 28th before leaving for California to begin his film career with Keystone.

The poster below is from a performance earlier in the month at the Empress in Salt Lake City. Chaplin's name & photo appear alongside the troupe's showing that he was already a star in vaudeville.

Monday, January 28, 2013

On tour with the Fred Karno Co., Butte, MO, c. 1912-13

In his autobiography, Charlie recalled that the prettiest prostitutes in the West were in Butte:
Butte boasted of having the prettiest women of any red-light district in the West, and it was true. If one saw a pretty girl smartly dressed, one could rest assured she was from the red-light quarter, doing her shopping. Off duty, they looked neither right nor left and were most respectable.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


On December 12th, 1912, Charlie was touring the western U.S. on his second tour with the Fred Karno Company. I don't know of his exact location on the 12th, but here is a review of his performance in "The Wow Wows" from a Butte, MO newspaper from Dec. 8th:
Archie is here. His coming to the Empress theatre is a
most interesting event for Archie’s presence there means
a thoroughly good time for all patrons ....
Archie is really Charles Chaplin and he is the lead-
ing comedian in the big act produced by Fred Karno
and known as The Wow Wows, or "A Night in a Secret
Society." The latter part of the title begins to throw some
light on Archie and what he does. Many patrons imme-
diately will recall on reading it that Mr. Chaplin made
a tremendous hit here as Archie in A Night in a London
Music Hall and Archie in A Night in an English Club. The
way he used to fall out of the box in that London Music
hall sketch and the funny pantomime work he did in the
other production--well Archie certainly was one great
big scream.
This time Mr. Chaplin has a new departure. Instead of
pantomime work he has a speaking part as well and thus
the question that often was asked as to what kind of a
speaking actor he would be has been answered and most
satisfactory at that.*
In almost exactly one year, Charlie would begin his contract with the Keystone Company.

*Butte Miner, Dec. 8, 1912, reprinted in Dan Kamin's The Comedy Of Charlie Chaplin: Artistry In Motion

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Sydney Chaplin (as Archibald Binks) & his future wife, Minnie Gilbert, in Fred Karno’s Skating, a sketch co-written by Sydney, c. 1909. Charlie also played Binks in Skating in 1909, but with a different Fred Karno touring company. No doubt this is where Charlie honed his phenomenal roller skating skills which he would later use in The Rink (1916) & Modern Times (1936).

Minnie went on to appear in five of Syd's films for Keystone and can also be spotted in A Dog's Life as one of the dancers in the cabaret scene.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Previously unseen photo of Charlie, c. 1912

From the official Charlie Chaplin Facebook page: 

"Hitherto unseen photo of Chaplin with George and Emily Seaman on tour in the USA with the Karno troupe, property of Valerie Gough. Valerie is looking for anyone who may have information of George and Emily - her family lost all trace of them after that particular Karno troupe disbanded in 1914. (She thinks they may have had children because there is a little girl in some of the Karno photos, and we know it was not a Palmer child. The Palmers were the only other couple on the tour.) Any leads please let us know - And please circulate."

I agree with my friend, Phil, that the guy on the left is Albert Austin, not George Seaman.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Charlie with members of The Royal Zanettos, a troupe of English jugglers, c. 1912

The Royal Zanettos toured North America with the Fred Karno troupe in 1912. Jesse Bale (the girl in the photos), is rumored to have had a little fling with Charlie.


Ad for Karno's London Comedians, Winnipeg, c. 1913

100 years ago Charlie was sailing to America for his second tour with the Fred Karno Company. Little did he realize that he would not return to England for another 9 years. This poster proves that he was already a star in vaudeville, but within a couple of years, he would be a film star on a worldwide level.

Monday, September 10, 2012

America, I am coming to conquer you!

 On the boat to America with the Fred Karno Company, 1910:

Back row L-R: Albert Austin, Bert Williams, Fred Palmer, unknown, Frank Melrose. Front row L-R: Stan Laurel (then Jefferson), Fred Karno, Jr., Muriel Palmer, Charlie (framed in the life preserver), Arthur Dando (behind), Mike Asher & Amy (Minister) Reeves.
L-R: Alf Reeves, his wife, Amy, Muriel Palmer, & Charlie. 

Stan Laurel had vivid memories of the crossing:
The Cairnrona was a cattle boat but it didn’t carry any cattle unless you call us cattle, and sometimes that’s just how we felt. For that matter, the food did mostly taste like fodder; and the weather was pretty rough. But we had fun because we were all in a great business, we were young and we were delighted to be going where we were going. I’ll never forget the details of what happened next. We were all on deck, sitting, watching the land in the mist. Suddenly, Charlie ran to the railing, took off his hat, waved it and shouted, “America, I am coming to conquer you! Every man, woman and child shall have my name on their lips—Charles Spencer Chaplin!” We all booed him affectionately, and he bowed to us formally and sat down again. Years later whenever I met any of the old [Karno] troupe, that was the one thing about those years we remembered the best, and we used to marvel on how right Charlie had been.

(Stan Laurel quoted in Charlie Chaplin by John McCabe)