The Real Life Story Of Charlie Chaplin

Charlie with writer and former boxer Jim Tully,
 who worked as his publicist in the mid-1920s.

In 1927, Chaplin’s publicist, Jim Tully, wrote a biography called “The Real Life Story Of Charlie Chaplin” which was published in 4 installments in Pictorial Review magazine. Chaplin brought an unsuccessful suit against Tully for the bio on the grounds that it was unauthorized (I think he was worried that it might have a negative effect on his impending divorce at the time). Nevertheless I found it to be very revealing about Chaplin the man, as well as what it was like to work with him.

Here are a few highlights:

  • His associates teasingly called him “the little genius” behind his back.
  • Chaplin’s moods could be gauged by the color of his suit. A green suit almost always brought a foul mood, a blue suit signaled a good mood. (Adolphe Menjou & Georgia Hale attested to this trait in Chaplin as well. According to Menjou, one of the staff members would call Charlie’s house before he arrived and ask what color suit he was wearing so they could prepare themselves).
  • Likewise, if Charlie was in a good mood, he would often walk swiftly, his hands even with his chest, snapping his fingers continuously.
  • He once dated a working class girl that he referred to as “Hotsy Totsy.” It was the only name Tully ever heard him call her.
  • One night at a restaurant, Charlie met a boxer who was down on his luck, so he gave him a role as an extra in The Gold Rush.
  • When alone, he would sometimes sing for hours, “his heavy voice rolling over the quiet studio.”
  • He once met a girl who worked a soda fountain and pretended to be a shoe clerk and took her to dinner at the Alexandria Hotel. The charade worked until he was spotted by Norma Talmadge. The girl excused herself from the table and Charlie never saw her again.
  • Once while walking along the grounds of his Beverly Hills home, Charlie noticed a frog sitting at the bottom of his empty swimming pool. He walked down the steps and stood before the frog and said, “Fellow frog, dost thou not know, thou warty wonder, that there are enough croakers in Hollywood?”


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