In the early stages of the screenplay for A Countess From Hong Kong, the character of Ogden Mears, played by Marlon Brando, was loosely based on President John F. Kennedy (in the original story, Mears was planning to run for president.) After Kennedy was assassinated, however, Chaplin revised the story because he didn’t want to offend the Kennedy family, especially Mrs. Kennedy.
|Charlie with Marlon Brando on the set of A Countess From Hong Kong|
Several years after Countess was released, producer and Chaplin family friend, Jerry Epstein, met Pierre Salinger, Kennedy’s press secretary. Epstein recalled their conversation in his book, Remembering Charlie:
“He said that Kennedy had planned to do something about Chaplin’s exile. Salinger was supposed to visit him and invite him back to the United States. But of course in the meantime Kennedy had been killed. Salinger also mentioned that he’d seen A Countess From Hong Kong. ‘I know who that picture was based on’ he told me. ‘Mr. Chaplin captured it very accurately.’ So I guess we didn’t disguise the Kennedy aspect too well.”