Note: This is the first post in a “mini-series” that I will be doing about Charlie’s visit to New York in 1925. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time you know that I enjoy schlepping along with Charlie on his travels. This won’t be an in-depth study by any means since information is sparse and few photos exist of Chaplin during this time in New York but there are a few fun facts that I will share from time to time.
Chaplin arrived aboard the 20th Century Limited accompanied by Harry d’Arrast, assistant director for The Gold Rush. He was met at the train by eastern UA representatives, including vice president, Arthur Kelly (brother of Charlie’s first love, Hetty). The purpose of this visit was to attend the premiere of his latest film The Gold Rush at the Mark Strand Theater on August 16th.
“The comedian’s hair was a little grayer than it was when he was here about two years ago for the presentation of A Woman Of Paris,” noted the New York Times, “but he appears to be in excellent health and his step is as lively as ever.”1
Later, Chaplin held a press conference in his suite at the Ritz:
Mr. Chaplin waxed humorous when seated, with one leg under him, on a sofa in his suite at the Ritz-Carlton.
“I occasionally encounter one of those persons who remembers me from the vaudeville days,” said Mr. Chaplin. “They often do not know how to say goodbye and it is extremely difficult to get away from them. This type will come up and say quietly, ‘Mr. Chaplin, I believe?’
“I admit that I am Charlie Chaplin and he forthwith goes on, still in an ordinary conversational tone: ‘I saw you in 1908 in vaudeville,’ and then in a rasping voice that can be heard all over the place, he ejaculates ‘Am I right?’ I agree, confess, and mumble. He repeats this, adding that 1908 is a long while ago, and then blares out again: ‘Am I right?’ He often does it a third or fourth time without much variation to his questions. I say that I am glad to have seen him, that I am flattered that he remembered me, and that sometimes he looks as if he were going to bring his friends up. It is then high time to put one’s foot down.”
Chaplin said that his wife was well and that everything was happy at home. His son has been named Spencer Chaplin* and is said to bear a strong resemblance to papa Chaplin.2
That evening Chaplin paid his first visit to Coney Island, accompanied by d’Arrast and Frank Crowninshield, editor of Vanity Fair. He spent time in Luna Park where he came in unannounced but was soon recognized. He took “three rides on the shoot-the-chutes” and then, followed by a growing crowd, went to Steeplechase Park, and to the Dreamland Circus and World Circus sideshows.3
|Chaplin and others pose in a Coney Island photo booth, August 3, 1925
L-R: CC, Frank Crowninshield, sculptor Helene Sardeau,
New Yorker columnist, Lois Long, & Harry d’Arrast
*Charlie, Jr. was referred to as “Spencer” a couple of days earlier in Chicago as well. Perhaps this was a nickname Chaplin gave his namesake at first but it didn’t stick.
1New York Times, August 4, 1925
3New York Times & Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 4, 1925