Sydney Chaplin (as Archibald Binks) & his future wife, Minnie Gilbert, in Fred Karno’s Skating, a sketch co-written by Sydney, c. 1909. Charlie also played Binks in Skating in 1909, but with a different Fred Karno touring company. No doubt this is where Charlie honed his phenomenal roller skating skills which he would later use in The Rink (1916) & Modern Times (1936).

Minnie went on to appear in five of Syd’s films for Keystone and can also be spotted in A Dog’s Life as one of the dancers in the cabaret scene.


  1. I wish there was more information about Minnie. According to Lisa Stein's book, she was extremely loyal to Syd despite his womanizing. She also sustained a terribly botched nose job (the 1920's–who knew?), and went through painful surgery and radiation to unsuccessfully treat breast cancer. It appeared that she retired from both the stage and films by the '20s. I think she must of been a person of substance given all she went through.

  2. I agree, Jessica. Syd has always been portrayed as the steady brother and a great businessman. In many ways, he was certainly a visionary, particularly in the field of aviation, but the man had serious issues! If I were playing armchair psychologist, I would say it was a combination of having a highly sensitive nature, having a childhood of horrifying deprivation, never knowing his real father and having to be the family breadwinner at age 12. He also seemed to be a sex addict, though I truly had a hard time believing that he actually committed the sexual crime he was accused of. Despite his "faults", I also found Syd sympathetic. The letters he wrote revealed a very interesting, observant, caring and unconventional person. I had the feeling that he would have done well in the 1960s when people were "finding" themselves and experimenting with free love.

  3. I never really "liked" Sydney. He was a very strange type of person. Their childhood had a strong impact in their lives, and I believe we'll never know what really happened when they were kids. Anyway, I guess he was even a bigger mess then Charlie, when it came to private issues.

  4. Anyone who knows the degradation of the welfare system, or lack of it in Victorian England would fear it for the rest of their lives and they didn't have to be world famous comedians. I don't believe Hannah was ever a prostitute or exposed her son to any sexual act she may have done. Do I believe she made some huge indiscretions that crumbled her family? Yes without a doubt! If she did what she had to do to put food in her children's mouths then is that not a sign of a good mother rather than a bad one? Hannah was never dragged kicking and screaming, she took her children of her own free will to Hanwell and it is my belief this was because she realised she would not give them what they deserved, I think this shows love rather than anything else 🙂

  5. I think whatever Hannah did for her children was out of love for them. Furthermore, when your children are starving, you might do anything to feed them. There's no evidence that she was or wasn't a prostitute. If she did this occasionally to make ends meet, I can't say that I blame her. Like Charlie himself said, "To gauge the morals of our family by commonplace standards would be as erroneous as putting a thermometer in boiling water."

  6. My favourite chaplin quote from his autobiography! I agree and would think no less of a woman who did this for her children! I can speak for any other part of the world but my own and my own is South London! I've watched horrors unfold through poverty and desperation and it happens to this day! Nothing in life that is pure and honest doesn't come from heart, soul, dedication and love. I think Charlie's life and the lives of so many others are true testament to that 🙂

  7. Maybe I am just being a paranoid or something but I'm the only one who got kinda freaked out by the older man who had Charlie sit next to him at the Lambeth workhouse. He said that the guy loved having Charlie by his side but than ditched him when a new and younger boy came around. Idk, maybe I am looking to much into it but it kinda freaked me out…..I am mainly bringing this up by the "what really happened when we were younger" quote.

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