|Charlie & May sunbathing in Juan-les-Pins.
Like most European women of her day, May has armpit hair.
Sometime in early May, Charlie & his traveling companion, May Reeves, arrived in Juan-les-Pins, France, where they would remain for most of the summer. At one point, Charlie even considered building a home & a movie studio there.
Not long after he arrived, it was reported in the press that Charlie refused to participate in a command vaudeville performance for the King of England. He immediately denied the allegations saying he had not received a command from the King but a request from a music hall manager asking him to appear in a charity show. He refused, stating it would be in “bad taste” for him to appear on stage & that he had made it a principle not to do so since he became associated with films. Instead he sent a donation of $1,000 (“about as much as I earned in my last two years on the English stage.”)
Charlie was irritated by the incident and poured out his feelings to a young man he met on the tennis court in Juan, unaware that he was a reporter:
Europe has misunderstood me, bullied me & misrepresented me to such an extent that, being a moderately rich man, I don’t care a hang whether I ever make another film.
They say I have a duty to England. But I wonder what duty? I sometimes think my countrymen are the world’s greatest hypocrites. Nobody wanted or cared for me in England 17 years ago. I was just as good an artist then and I slaved and starved for a few shillings weekly. I had to go to America for my chance and I got it. Only then did England take the slightest interest in me.
Why are people bothering their heads about me? I am only a movie comedian. They made a politician out of me, a material sort of fellow which I am not.
Charlie went on to vent his feelings on patriotism:
I have been all over Europe in the past few months & patriotism is rampant everywhere. The result is going to be another war. I hope they send the old men to the front the next time because the old men are the real criminals of Europe today.*
Thirty-three years later in his autobiography, Charlie’s views on patriotism remained unchanged:
How can one tolerate patriotism when six million Jews were murdered in its name?
*Chicago Tribune & The Washington Post, May 11th, 1931