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.

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