Day By Day: 1936

Friday, January 24th: Chaplin and Paulette Goddard attend the opening of Col. de Basil’s Ballet Russes at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Chaplin looks at the Ballet Russes program. See it here.


It’s well-known that Chaplin had a lifelong affection for ballet. According to his son, Charlie, Jr.: “Every time a ballet troupe came to town Dad would take in the performance, not once but several times. He knew the stories, the music, and all the parts by heart.” He also incorporated ballet into a number of his films. But perhaps his greatest tribute to his love of ballet was his 1952 film, Limelight. It’s not commonly known but the origins of the Limelight story can be traced back to projects he intended for Paulette in the late 1930s. One story involved a male dancer named Tamerlain and a female dancer (Paulette) who befriends him. He also toyed with the idea of making a film with a circus or vaudeville theme. In a story called The Passion Of Vaudeville, Chaplin plays an aging clown and Paulette plays his younger protégée. They marry but she eventually falls in love with a handsome younger artist. Sound familiar?

You can read more about these projects and how they evolved into Limelight in Charlie Chaplin: Footlights with The World of Limelight by David Robinson.  It’s a fascinating story.

3 Comments

  1. He's wearing the spat shoes here – could this be the night she tried to hide them and failed in getting him to wear another pair of shoes, per Charlie Jr.'s book? Probably not, but this is what I do when I look at the photos.

  2. It seems he had a lot of plans & ideas for Paulette too bad the both of them never made more pictures together. Movies Chaplin intended for Paulette all sounds fascinating to me. I would have loved to have seen Paulette dressed up as ballerina though.

  3. I like the program cover. It reminds me of the West Side Story music album cover. And I have an identical black velveteen skirt.

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