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. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Charlie and Chasen's

One of the most popular restaurants of "Old Hollywood" was Chasen's. It was at 9039 Beverly Boulevard on the edge of Beverly Hills. Chasen's opened in 1936 and closed its fabled doors in 1995.
Charlie Chaplin was among the many stars who frequented it. A collector in LA had several memorable items connected with old Hollywood restaurants. Among them was a match-book cover signed by Charlie. 

My son found it and gave it to me several years ago on Charlie's birthday. I'd love to know the story behind it...whose was it? When was this signed? Did Charlie say anything? What did he have for dinner? Who was he with? What car was he driving? 
One can only imagine.

Here is a link to a short YouTube video about Chasen's and other iconic Hollywood restaurants. Enjoy.