Wednesday, December 24, 2014

37 Years Ago on Christmas Day

This Christmas, 2014, will mark the 37th anniversary of the death of this great film artist. Like his life and many of his films, the event held a surprise and, eventually, a happy ending.

Charlie died early in the morning on Christmas, at Manoir De Ban, which overlooks the town of Vevey, Switzerland. 

He had been in declining health for awhile, though he never lost the urge to make one more movie. He was buried near the Manoir.

End of story? No. Three months later, in March of 1978, his body was unearthed and stolen. A ransom note demanded payment. The body-snatchers bungled the job, left a lot of clues.It sounds like one of his early shorts. The body was discovered in a farmer's field, the police caught the robbers, they stood trial, and Chaplin was buried in a more secure manner. This was in a cemetery in Vevey, in a concrete tomb, to eventually be joined by Oona in 1991. Oona's final years were quite sad as she withdrew from the public.

According to current plans, the Manoir is scheduled to open as a museum in Spring, 2016, an event long anticipated.

I visited their gravesite several years ago. It's in a small cemetery, surrounded by low walls, and open to the public. It was a hot day in July, I was alone there, and sat on the bench of front of their headstones for several minutes. I thanked him.

So, on Christmas day, amidst the presents and laughter and decorations and gathering of friends and family, perhaps you can pause for just a few seconds to say, "Thanks, Charlie. You brightened up my life, and the world."


  1. And thanks, Gerry, for bringing Charlie Chaplin alive for many of us who didn't appreciate him as we should have.

  2. Terrific remembrance Gerry - thank YOU!
    Joe Delmore

  3. Thanks, Gerry, for giving us of yourself in remembering Charlie. We are all the better for knowing both of you.