This novel, which was never published or even intended for publication, was written by Chaplin as a preliminary to the 1952 film, Limelight. It took over three years to complete & more than thirty pages are dedicated to the past of the main characters, Calvero & Terry (nine pages are given to the romance between Calvero and Eva Morton, who would become one of his five wives, but is never mentioned in the film).

Page from the novel. Source: Limelight: Chaplin Project N. 1
Page from the novel describing Terry’s childhood. Source: Limelight: Chaplin Project N. 1

Early versions of the Limelight screenplay reveal that Chaplin originally wanted to integrate the backstory of the characters into the film. Actresses were hired to play Terry as a child, as well as her mother and sister, Louise. Chaplin later abandoned this idea.

Footlights was the first novel Chaplin ever attempted to write.

Young Terry and her mother in a deleted scene from Limelight


  1. I know this is a long shot, but do you happen to know where one might find a copy of Footlights, or if Chaplin's Limelight screenplay was ever published? Did you scan those pages personally? I am so in love with this story, thank you for posting this! Any information you have would be greatly appreciated. -Francesca

  2. Thank you so much! For such a prolific man, certain things are extremely hard to find, indeed. You've been very helpful, thanks again. 🙂

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