Thursday, April 30, 2020

More from Red Letter Days

Post #2 In a series:
This book has a series of articles in it from a British magazine called Red Letter. In 1916 it began a series of 37 articles about Charlie Chaplin.

This is an excerpt from an article that ran on May 6, 1916.
Thanks to Dan Kamin for bringing this book to my attention, and for putting it together. The articles were written by Fred Goodwins.

From Red Letter Days

It wasn't long before the necessity of getting started in returned to Charlie in full force, for he came flying back to Los Angeles within three days of his departure to the mountains.
     I happened to be on the stage when he walked into the studio, and I began forthwith to "kid" him strenuously upon his broken vows.
     "Did you take some good scenes up there, Charlie?" I asked.
    He looked at me vacantly. "Scenes?" he repeated."Scenes?" Then he got me. "Listen!" he grinned. "Are you trying to kid me, or just show me a good time?"
     "Neither," I answered. "But I like the way you 'start in right away,' Charlie."
     He immediately felt he was losing his dignity, and tried to pull a solemn face. "Really, Goody," he said. "I went up to the mountains in the sacred cause."
     "Of charity?"
     "Sure," he replied. "Harry" (his chauffeur) "was down with influenza, and I thought the trip would do him good."
     A volley of incredulous jeers greeted his diaphanous statement, whereat Charlie proceeded to look very much hurt. "You chaps don't believe I'm capable of doing a Christian act," he grumbled. But he couldn't keep it up any longer. That irresistible, twinkly smile came over his face, and he darted into his dressing-room.
     During the afternoon he unlocked his trunk, with its multitude of labels proclaiming the fact that he had but a short while ago travelled over the "Western Vaudeville Circuit" with the "Karno Company." Other labels betrayed him as having stopped at the So-and-So Hotel - - one dollar a night and up, with private bath one dollar 50 cents, in most of the big cities of the U.S.A. between here and New York City.     

These articles have given me insight into the Charlie Chaplin of the day, what his schedule and attitudes and thoughts were, plus observations by an accomplished journalist. I hope you enjoy these samplings.

If you would like to read a well-received  novel about Charlie, and what he was like in the 1920's...and what might happen if he were in Hollywood today...I suggest you purchase a copy of "Shadow and Substance: My Time with Charlie Chaplin." Email me (, or reply to this post, and I will get one in the mail to you, for $20 plus shipping, signed if you like. Thank you.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

A Few Words from and about Charlie

This book has a series of articles in it from a British magazine called Red Letter. In 1916 it began a series of 37 articles about Charlie Chaplin.

This is an excerpt from an article that ran on April 29, 1916.
Thanks to Dan Kamin for bringing this book to my attention, and for putting it together. The articles were written by Fred Goodwins.

From Red Letter Days:

I had scarcely returned from mailing my last article, and settled myself to a perusal of the English papers when the telephone bell rang. It was Leo White.
"Come down to the office right away," he stammered excitedly. "Charlie gets in on the 4:30 train. There's a car waiting here to take us to the station!" And he rang off.

Charlie coming back! It sounded too good to be true, but I knew White too well to suppose he was "kidding," so I hastened to the comedian's office on Broadway. Outside was Charlie's big, seven-passenger touring car, containing eight actors and a chauffeur. They sandwiched me in somehow, and the way we cut by those cross-town streets was a caution.

Our waste was scarcely necessay, however, for when we arrived at the track and hurried into the station we were met by Harry Caulfield, the manager of the new Chaplin Mutual Company, who had arrived from New York the previous day.

"What's your hurry, boys?" he questioned round the corner of a fat cigar, which was tucked, American fashion," into his face. "She not on time; you've got ten minutes to spare."
"Here he is!" yelled one.
"No, he's in the Pullman at the rear end."
"Nonsense! That's a day-coach down there."
Right in the middle of it, a small figure, all alone, alighted from the steps of the end coach, 'way down the line, and strolled up towards us at the station. There was no mistaking that quiet, thoughtful stroll or the neat hang of that nifty little New York suit upon his dapper frame. It was Charlie at last.
It was fully ten seconds before he realized that we had come down to meet him, but when he finally "came to earth" and saw us - say, didn't he let out a whoop!
"Hi!" he shouted, his high-strung temperament overcoming for the moment his habitual calm. "Hello, boys! Home again!" Then, as we started to run towards him, he greeted us all in rapid succession.

The article runs on for another 2 pages in the book and is worth the read. I'll post excerpts from other articles in the book in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Special for Charlie's Birthday - April 16 - My Novel

Now you can buy "Shadow and Substance"

 for only $20, free shipping.

I wrote a novel about Chaplin, about Hollywood in the 20's and today, about time travel and the amazing story of Chaplin. It's called "Shadow and Substance: My Time with Charlie Chaplin." Yes, it's a novel, which means it's fiction...but also built on fact...except for some imagination and the time travel part.


Got some really good reviews, including this gem from Kevin Brownlow:

“I was impressed by your book. I enjoyed it so much I made it last as long as possible. It was fascinating to read a fictitious version of an event one has been through oneself. You are a very good writer and your imagination caught me to such an extent that I began to feel as though I had just encountered Chaplin myself!”

Kevin Brownlow, Chaplin expert, author, documentarian, and         winner of a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 2010

The special price for my novel - $20 - is good until the end of April, 2020.The reason, again, is to celebrate Charlie Chaplin's birthday, April 16.He was born in 1889 and changed the history of movies, and was at one time the most famous man in the world. Not bad accomplishments for someone who grew up in poverty in the slums of London.

You can pay by PayPal ( or mail a check for $20 to
Gerry Mandel, 503 Taylor Young Drive, St. Louis MO 63122. Let me know if you'd like for me to sign the book. Thanks.
Free shipping only in U.S. Other countries, USPS rates apply.
Available number of copies is limited.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Born 130 Years Ago, He Still Makes Us Laugh

He was born into poverty on April 16th in 1889. His father abandoned him when he was a child. His mother began a long, gradual descent into madness. He lived on the streets of London by his wits, along with his half-brother Sydney. He fell in love with the magic of the English music hall when he was eight years old. Audiences loved this funny and talented youngster who made them laugh.

By the time he was 25, he was the most recognized and beloved figure in the world. And remained so for many years.

©Roy Export SAS.
His name was Charles Spencer Chaplin. On screen he was The Little Tramp. Charlie referred to him as The Little Fellow, elevating him somewhat in social standing. Chaplin may have been the most influential film maker in history. He broke away from his early work in Mack Sennett's film factory of slapstick, a kick in the pants, chases and two-dimensional stories, to discover the power of storyline, character development, connection with the audience, performance, nuance, use of pathos and, especially, humor. His films, both the shorts and the features, had immeasurable impact on those who followed. 

©Roy Export SAS. 
This year marks the 130th anniversary of his birth. And, yes, Charlie is still alive in many ways. Activities and events are being held around the world, throughout the year and into 2020. The Chaplin Office in Paris, under the guidance of Kate Guyonvarch, recently posted a calendar of events in their newsletter. It’s impressive. Take a look at, the official website. 

Before I tell you more about this 130th celebration, a word about why I care. In 1960 I was living in San Francisco, somewhere between beatnik and aspiring writer. On Tuesday nights I’d head across the Golden Gate Bridge to Zack’s, a waterfront bar in Sausalito, where they showed Charlie Chaplin movies. Scratchy, old 16mm prints accompanied by the chatter of the projector. For me, it was magic! Over a scotch and water, and a hamburger, I fell in love with The Little Tramp, the beginning of a life-long obsession. I even wrote a novel about a guy who meets Chaplin today. Yes, time travel. Hollywood yesterday and today. The title is “Shadow and Substance: My Time with Charlie Chaplin.” If you would like to order a copy, send me an email, at Reasonably priced, signed at no extra cost. (End of plug.) 

Back to the celebration. Here are some of the cities, countries and venues. For starters, Chaplin’s World in Vevey, Switzerland. That’s where Charlie lived after he left the U.S., and is now a museum (I was there two years ago, an unforgettable experience). Other event locations: London and Bristol, England. Paris. Slovakia. Japan. Italy. Israel. Turkey. United States. Germany. Austria. Switzerland. Spain.  Maybe even St. Louis. I'm working on it. And more on the horizon.

Events and projects include a new documentary, a new album of Chaplin music by violinist Philippe Quint, new plays and adaptations, a revival of “Chaplin: The Musical” in various countries, a BBC Radio series, Chaplin feature films shown with live orchestral accompaniment, limited edition of art prints of photographs from the Chaplin archives. And the party continues into 2020.

In September of 2017, my wife and I visited Paris. We made plans to meet Kate for lunch. As we walked to the restaurant, Kate said, “I’ve invited someone to join us. I hope you don’t mind.” Of course I didn’t mind and said so. Then she told me who it was. Charlie’s grandson. Charles Sistovaris. His mother was Josephine, one of Charlie and Oona’s daughters. It was a lunch I’ll never forget. Charley was incredibly charming and gracious, with that magic Chaplin smile.The meal was delicious, the setting elegant, the for the ages.

I urge you to celebrate Chaplin’s 130th. Go to Paris, London, NYC, DC, or wherever you find a Chaplin event on the website. Or watch a Chaplin movie at home. Maybe start with “The Kid” or “The Gold Rush.” Or his Mutual shorts. Chaplin considered these shorts some of his best work. You can buy them on-line or find them at the library. If possible, get a recent edition of the movie, where the image is sharp and the music track is crisp and clean. You’ll see why Charlie still makes us laugh and perhaps shed a tear. You'll understand why the world remembers his birthday. And rejoices.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Ship Sails with Charlie And Stanley

September, 1910. One hundred and eight years ago. That's when Charlie Chaplin and Stanley Jefferson, together with a dozen other actors, left England with the Karno Company to embark on a tour of the United States. Some of the names in that company are Albert Austin (who appeared in many of Chaplin's later films), Alf Reeves (who appeared in two of Chaplin's shorts, as well as acted as production manager on later films), Charles Griffiths, and Fred Palmer. 

The ship left Southampton, England and docked 11 days later in Montreal. The company headed to New York. What an experience that must have been for them: The New World, a bustling, rapidly growing city, and a chance to make American audiences laugh. Here is what Charlie said about their arrival (from "My Autobiography"):

"At ten o'clock on a Sunday morning we at last arrived in New York. When we got off the streetcar at Times Square, it was something of a let-down. Newspapers were blowing about the road and pavement, and Broadway looked seedy, like a slovenly woman just out of bed. On almost every corner there were elevated chairs with shoe lasts sticking up and people sitting comfortably in shirt sleeves getting their shoes shined. They gave one the impression of finishing their toilet in the street...However, this was New York, adventurous, bewildering, a little frightening..."

Stanley (later to become Stan Laurel) would eventually develop his own character and style. Chaplin, unaware of what movies held in store for him, was just four years away from the beginning of unprecedented fame.

Friday, February 15, 2019

New Solo Recording of Chaplin's Music

An idea whose time has come. If not overdue.
A new recording by a gifted violinist has just been released. I am attaching a link to the article that appeared on the San Francisco Classical Voice website. It's well written by a person who obviously holds Chaplin and his music in high esteem. I've attached a link to Philippe Quint's comments and portions of "Smile".
Enjoy. And order the CD.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Charlie and Stanley - At The Beginning

With the recent release of "Stan and Ollie" - an excellent film starring John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan - I wanted to see what Stanley (Jefferson, at the time) had said about Chaplin. They were both in Fred Karno's company when they arrived from England to tour the United States beginning in 1910. 
Here's what Stanley said: "We had a lot of fun in those days. Charlie and I roomed together and I can still see him playing the violin or cello to cover the noise of the cooking of bacon I was doing on the gas ring, forbidden of course. Then we'd both take towels and try and blow the smoke out of the window."
Charlie, of course, was hired by Mack Sennett in 1914 and went on to worldwide stardom. Stanley, who shortly thereafter changed his name to Stan Laurel, also achieved a world-wide audience, with Oliver "Babe" Hardy, though never one that equalled Chaplin.

Here are two pictures of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel when they were traveling the U.S. with the Fred Karno company.