Showing posts with label Jackie Coogan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jackie Coogan. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


This short promotional film features Charlie and Buster Keaton in their first onscreen appearance together (& only silent film appearance)--thirty years before Limelight. A number of other stars can also be seen including Jackie Coogan, who is seated next to Charlie. This real-life gathering was the inaugural meeting of the Independent Screen Artists’ Guild which took place at the Ambassador Hotel in Hollywood in December 1921. Sadly this version of the film has been edited. There should be a short clip from Chaplin's then-upcoming film, The Pilgrim, at the end (an alternate take at that). Would love to see it.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"I'm always conscious of the Chaplin Tramp"

Dylan in London, 1966. Photo by Barry Feinstein.

Bob Dylan, who celebrates a birthday today, was asked early in his career about his idols: "If I'm on stage, my idol--even my biggest idol when I'm on stage, the one that's running through my head all the time, is Charlie Chaplin."1

He impacted Dylan not only on stage but in other ways as well: "He influences me, even in the way I sing. His films really sank in. I like to see the humor in the world. There is so little of it around. I guess I’m always conscious of the Chaplin tramp."2 Therefore it's not surprising that Dylan would include references to his idol in his radio show "Theme Time Radio Hour" which aired on SiriusXM from 2006-2009. Here are a few of those clips:

During an episode entitled "Street Map," Dylan briefly mentions Chaplin's 1917 film Easy Street.

In a show called "Work & Jobs," he discusses Jackie Coogan and plays a brief interview clip in which Jackie talks about working with Chaplin on The Kid.

Lastly, Dylan plays Judy Garland's version of "Smile" during an episode called "Happiness." He explains that the melody was written by Chaplin for his film Modern Times, which, not coincidently, is also the name of a 2006 album by Dylan.

1"The Billy James Interview," Fall 1961
2Robert Shelton, No Direction Home, 1986

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Jackie Coogan on working with Chaplin

From the A&E documentary A Tramp's Life (1998) which is impossible to find in any form in English but an Italian version is on youtube (almost all of the interviews are dubbed over unfortunately).

RIP Jackie (March 1, 1984)

Friday, February 6, 2015

"Chaplin's Sartorial Art"

We all know the story of how Chaplin's Little Tramp costume came to be. But what about the costume of one of his most famous co-stars? Jackie Coogan's tattered wardrobe in The Kid has a story all its own.

Excerpt from the Washington Post, December 25th, 1921:

There is an old saw which still retains most of its teeth to the effect that "Clothes Don't Make the Man." It would probably be equally the part of sagacity to remark that in a vast majority of instances "man don't make the clothes." There are, however, conspicuous exceptions to both of these bromidic rules: In fact, Charlie Chaplin may be looked upon as a living embodiment of an exception to each. To find proof of this odd circumstance it is only necessary to reflect that under the spell of a weird inspiration, Mr. Chaplin watched a battered old derby hat, a wilted collar that once was white, an indescribable morning coat, a pair of unmentionable trousers and shoes no shoemaker ever could peg, become the greatest comedy costume the world has known. 
That sounds like a feat that would defy repetition. But it was done. again, and it was Mr. Chaplin who did it the second time. For the clothes which Jackie Coogan wears, and which are wrapped around his fame dip as a little screen wonder were selected for him by the great Charles.

Jackie Coogan as The Kid. Photo by James Abbe

A disreputable sweater which had been worn by Charlie in the dim past hung forgotten in a closet of the Chaplin studios. It was mildewed with age; it bore the stains of custard—honorable battle-scars sustained in the strenuous old pie-slinging days. But its glories were gone; there wasn't a laugh left in it. Then Charlie led it gently into the sunshine; fumigators fell upon it; and it returned shriven of soul. When part of the sleeves were cut off and the waist shortened, it fitted Jackie Coogan--here and there. 
It was obvious that little Jackie could not go pantless through six reels of motion pictures; but the task of getting trousers which would keep disreputable company with the cap and sweater was a big one. At first Chaplin thought of overalls; but they never could appear shabby enough to meet his ideas. While he was pondering the subject Benny Zeidman, the diminutive producer, appeared at
the studio. Inspired, the comedian suddenly inquired:
 "Got any old pants, Benny?" 
"These old enough?" Denny demanded. He had just come off the lot and was not looking his usual immaculate self. "When do you want them?"
 "Now!" said Chaplin. 
Jackie himself contributed the shoes, but Chaplin put the finishing touches to them by cutting them open at the tips to allow the kid's toes to show through. And that is the origin of the wardrobe which will go down through screen history. ("Chaplin's Sartorial Art," Washington Post, December 25, 1921. Author unknown.)

The Kid premiered in New York City on this day in 1921.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas with Charlie (and Jackie)

Another installment in my annual "Christmas With Charlie" series.

From the Los Angeles Times, November 16, 1920:
Charlie Chaplin emerged from seclusion yesterday to announce that he will be in Los Angeles to celebrate the Christmas holidays. The announcement came in a telegram sent by him from New York to Jackie Coogan, child screen actor who has played in many of the film comedian's pictures.1 The boy recently suffered a basal fracture of the skull in an automobile accident.2
Chaplin, for several weeks, while his wife's divorce suit was pending, had been in hiding from the general public and none of his plans were divulged until his telegram was received yesterday. The message stated:
"Dear Jackie: I know you are recovering nicely because you are such a strong little man who can take a punch. Hope yourself and daddy will be out when I return so that we can spend Christmas together, or at least you will be well enough to play with toys, so don't disappoint Santa Claus, as there are no chimneys in hospitals for him to come down through. You wait and see what I'll bring from New York. If you want anything ask my manager, Mr. Reeves, and he will get it for you. [Signed] Charlie Chaplin."

Coogan and Chaplin on the set of The Kid 

1Besides The Kid (1921), Jackie also appeared in A Day's Pleasure (1919) & Nice And Friendly (1921), a film Chaplin made as a wedding present for Lord & Lady Mountbatten.
2Jackie's father, who was driving, was also injured. 15 years later, father and son would be involved in another car accident. This time, Jackie's father would be killed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jackie Coogan and Granville Redmond on the set of THE KID, 1920

Photo by James Abbe

Redmond was a deaf painter who kept a studio on Chaplin's lot and had bit parts in a few of his films. In The Kid he plays a friend of the father.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Interview clips

Here is a compilation I put together of rare interview excerpts, probably from c. 1979, featuring Jackie Coogan, Lita Grey Chaplin, and Sydney Chaplin. These clips were extracted from the documentary Great Romances Of the 20th Century: Charlie & Oona Chaplin (1998).*

Note: Eric James tells a different version of Sydney's bathroom story here (or maybe it happened twice!)

*Courtesy of my dear friend, Lucy.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Random Excerpt: Chaplin on "The Kid"

From "The Marvelous Boy Of The Movies," by Charlie Chaplin, Vanity Fair, January 1921
It was by pure accident that I met this remarkable child actor. He was with his parents in a Los Angeles hotel sleeping, as a child will, in a chair. He was roused in order to meet me. He rubbed his eyes, jumped up,  made his politest bow, and promptly went back to sleep. 
However, in that instant, I had seen the rare quality of Jackie Coogan, a quality so lovable that I followed him up, induced his parents to let him become a member of my company and shortly set about a picture which might express something of my feeling--which, I believe, will not prove a purely individual reaction--toward the child. 
What first attracted me to the boy was a whimsical, wistful quality, a genuineness of feeling. He is the lovable child carried to the nth power, yet endowed with not a little of the self-consciousness of an artist and with a hundred resources as an actor....
In this initial stages of his training, however, my chief difficulty was to overcome his inattention, or rather that inability to concentrate the attention, which is, of course, a common characteristic of all children. One quality he has, which is extraordinary in a child: his ability to repeat a scene without losing interest. I have seen him pick up an object after a dozen rehearsals, with a wonder and attention, which would make you believe he was looking at it for the first time in his life....
Now that The Kid is about to be released, I suppose another picture made by myself and Jack Coogan is scarcely probable. What the boy will do, I don't know, but then neither do I know what I shall do, I shall probably go on wearing a trick moustache and carrying a cane too small for me, until at last I meet the undertaker. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Happy birthday, Jackie Coogan (October 26th, 1914 - March 1st, 1984)

Jackie at the Chaplin Studios.

On the set of The Kid.
Chaplin wrote the following about Jackie in 1921:
"What first attracted me to the boy was a whimsical, wistful quality, a genuineness of feeling.
 He is the lovable child carried to the nth power, yet endowed with not a little
of the self-consciousness of an artist and with a hundred resources as an actor."
(Chaplin, "The Marvelous Boy Of The Movies," Vanity Fair, January 1921)
"The Kid" visits the set of Modern Times, c. 1935
Jackie and Charlie Chaplin, Jr. with whom he appeared
 in the 1958 film High School Confidential.
Charlie and Jackie meet again during Charlie's return to America in 1972.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Set visit during the filming of The Kid

The original caption identifies the girl between Charlie and Jackie as a young Sue Carol. Virginia Cherrill, Chaplin's leading lady in City Lights, went to school with Carol in Illinois and was visiting her in Hollywood when she was discovered by Chaplin at a boxing match in 1928. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

"I Was A Chaplin Kid"

Raymond Lee played the bully who picks on Jackie Coogan in this scene from The Kid. Lee also appeared in A Day’s Pleasure (along with Jackie) & The Pilgrim (the child who applauds Charlie’s sermon).  Many years later, Lee recalled Charlie guiding the two boys through the fight scene:
“Boys this is a very simple scene. Very simple. Two boys fighting. All boys fight. Must be a million boys fighting all over the world this very minute. It’s born in you—like tonsils. But boys, you aren’t fighting. You’re dancing with each other....
 "Hunger, hideous word. Most hideous of all tortures. Of course neither of you boys have ever been hungry. God forbid! Your stomach like a balloon without air. Your heart in your eyes and your eyes without a friend."
Despite his heavy makeup, Chaplin's skin whitened, the lines around his eyes, stitches in a wound.
"There is hunger in this scene. A boyish hunger makes Raymond steal Jackie’s toy. And Jackie fights for his hunger for it. It’s not an ordinary fight. It’s been going on for thousands of years but it still isn’t an ordinary fight."  His hands visored the down-draught of sunlight.
"I’ve been so hungry I could eat a shoe!”'
Cracking his knuckles, Chaplin leaned back in his chair, and cupping his mouth, whispered to [Albert] Austin. "I must sound like a damn fool talking to these kids like this." 

From “I Was A Chaplin Kid” by Raymond Lee, Movie Digest, Sept. 1972. Reprinted in The Legend of Charlie Chaplin by Peter Haining

Friday, October 26, 2012

Jackie Coogan performs an impromptu dance at Chaplin Studios

Charlie brings out his newest discovery, Jackie Coogan, to perform a little shimmy for his distributors at First National during production of The Kid, c. 1920.

Happy Birthday, Jackie Coogan (October 26, 1914 – March 1, 1984)

Autographed photo from Jackie to Charlie’s valet/secretary, Toraichi Kono, 1920.
Photo by Witzel.