Showing posts with label Jean Cocteau. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jean Cocteau. Show all posts

Sunday, May 29, 2016

DAY BY DAY: 1936

Friday, May 29th: The Coolidge, en route to San Francisco, makes a brief stop in Honolulu

Sailing from Yokohama, the President Coolidge, carrying Charlie, Paulette, her mother, Alta, and valet Frank Yonemoridocked for only a few hours in Hawaii before sailing again at ten that evening. Fellow passenger, Jean Cocteau, recalled that the ship was met with a native band and singers upon its arrival. When Charlie and Paulette disembarked they were "waylaid by the American colony, led off on a leash of flowers."1 The couple were here once before back in February, at the beginning of their tour.

Below are photos aboard the Coolidge, between Yokohama and San Francisco.


Alta and Paulette
L-R: Geoffrey Rootes, William Rootes (British car manufacturers), Lady Furness, Paulette, Charlie.
Back row: Jean Cocteau, Alta, Victor Sassoon (with mustache), and Water Lang, the director.
Chaplin with Frank Murphy, U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines.
Alta, Mr. Murphy, and Paulette
In a photo album, Paulette describes her sleeping mother in this photo
as "the perfect chaperone."
More photos here.

Coming up on June 3rd: Arrival in San Francisco.

1 Cocteau, Round The World Again In 80 Days

***

Day By Day: 1936: A document of one year of Chaplin's life.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Day By Day: 1936

May 11th-12th: Chaplin meets Jean Cocteau

On Monday, May 11th, sailing between Hong Kong and Shanghai aboard the Kashima Maru, Chaplin received a note from a fellow passenger who wanted to meet him. The passenger was Jean Cocteau, who was traveling around the world with his lover, Marcel Khill, retracing the steps of Phileas Fogg. In his memoir, My Journey Round The World, Cocteau described their initial meeting:
So Charlie Chaplin was on board. The news took my breath away. Some days later, Chaplin was to say to me: "The real function of one's work is to enable friends like us to cut out preliminaries; you and I have always known each other." But I had no notion on that first day that the desire to meet was mutual.
I decided to write a short note to Chaplin. In it I mentioned my presence on board and my devotion to his personality, But, when he came down to dinner with Paulette Goddard, his behaviour convinced me that he meant to travel incognito. 
It turned out that he had not received my note...After dinner I retired to my cabin. As I was undressing, someone knocked at the door. I opened it, and there stood Charlie and Paulette. My note had only just been delivered. Inclined at first to suspect a practical joke, Chaplin had dashed up to the purser's office on the main deck to see the passenger-list. Reassured, he had run down the stairs, four steps at a time, and here he was, answering my note in person. ...
I was struck by the marvelous spontaneity, the suddenness and candor of this fantastic meeting, for which surely our horoscopes, and nothing else, can have accounted. Here, on the China Seas, a myth was taking substance in our midst. Passepartout [Marcel Khill] was gloating over the idol of his youth. Chaplin was shaking his white curls, taking off his glasses and putting them on again, and, between bursts of laughter, turning to the girl beside him. "Isn't it marvelous! Simply marvelous!" 

Sketch of Chaplin by Cocteau

Although neither knew the other's language they "conversed effortlessly" with Khill occasionally acting as interpreter. "Chaplin brought out each word," Cocteau remembered, "and laid it on the table well in view, stood back from it and set it at the angle where it caught most light. The words he thus exhibited for my benefit were easy to transpose from one tongue to the other."

Cocteau was delighted that Paulette, who knew French well, refused to act as interpreter: "If I lend a hand, they get all cluttered up with details; left to themselves they stick to essentials." Cocteau felt this remark illustrated her "sleight of mind."

Years later, Chaplin himself recalled their discussion in My Autobiography:
That night we sat up into the small hours, discussing our theories of life and art. Our interpreter spoke slowly and hesitantly while Cocteau, his beautiful hands spread on his chest, spoke with the rapidity of a machine gun, his eyes flashing an appealing look at me, then at the interpreter, who spoke unemotionally: 'Mr Cocteau--he say--you are a poet--of ze sunshine--and he is a poet of ze--night.'" 
Their philosophical conversation went on until four in the morning, promising to meet at one o'clock for lunch.

But, according to Chaplin, "our enthusiasm had reached a climax...and neither of us showed up....We had had more than the glut of each other." He wrote that they spent the rest of the voyage dodging each other in hallways and breaking appointments.

Cocteau remembered it quite differently. "We joined forces, shared our meals and the journey alike; to such an extent did we form the habit of living together that we found it painful to part company in San Francisco." Nevertheless, Cocteau recognized Chaplin's shyness and detachment: "He mistrusts even friendship and its obligations and the rough-and-ready contacts it imposes. The sudden fancy he took for me was, I gathered, quite exceptional; indeed there were moments when it seemed almost to alarm him, and I grew conscious of an aloofness, as though, after letting himself go, he were shrinking back into himself."

He also observed Chaplin's relationship with Paulette:
Paulette left us for a while. Bending towards me, Charlie murmured with a mysterious air, "And then--I always feel so sorry...." Sorry for what--for that small, prickly cactus, for that lioness with her glorious mane and claws, for that huge Rolls Royce with his luxury and sleek leather? That would be Chaplin all over; his heart works that way. He is sorry for everything and everyone; for us, for his vagabond self, and for her--that poor little waif whom he brings everywhere with him, so that he can give her food when she is hungry, put her to bed when tired, and spare her innocence the perils of city life. And, suddenly, I no  longer saw the Hollywood star in her page's uniform of glossy satin, or the prosperous white-haired film director in mustard-yellow tweeds--but only that pale, curly-haired little fellow with the flippant cane, limping his way about the world and leading by the hand a little girl, the victim of incessant police traps and the ghoulishness of the cities. 
Cocteau drawing of young man sleeping (Marcel Khill), inscribed to Paulette:
"á Paulette, la petite fille trés pure, ce souvenir de notre rencontre et d'une amitie de toujours. Jean."
 [to Paulette, the very pure little girl, this remembrance of our meeting and of a friendship forever. Jean.]
George Glazer Gallery

Chaplin spent much of the voyage to Shanghai writing in his cabin, remembered Cocteau. "I might pass out tomorrow in my bath," Chaplin told him. "But I don't count. Really, I don't exist. Only these papers exist--and they do count." Cocteau felt that Chaplin loved work and everything else "profoundly bored him. No sooner is he lured away from work than he starts yawning, his body sags, his eyes go lustreless and he sinks into a "little death.'"

On Tuesday, May 12th, they arrived in Shanghai. That evening, Charlie and Paulette met Cocteau for dinner at the Cathay Hotel. Afterward they went to a Chinese cabaret, where Cocteau noticed Chaplin yawning. He spent most of the night "sulky" and when all other diners left their tables and took to the dance floor, he remained seated. "He was a brown study, and I could see he was put out by the stares of all and sundry, their eagerness to detect the film-star in the man."

Later in the evening, Paulette suddenly rose and told everyone at the table that she "wanted to see Shanghai." So Cocteau and Marcel agreed to give Paulette a tour of the city's nightlife while Chaplin returned to the hotel to sleep.

The next morning, the Chaplin party, as well as Cocteau and Khill, departed for Japan (and eventually the U.S.) aboard the SS President Coolidge.

Stay tuned for more in my Day By Day: 1936 series.

Sources:

Jean Cocteau, Round The World Again In 80 Days
Chaplin, My Autobiography
Robinson, Chaplin: His Life & Art

Sunday, August 9, 2015

With Jean Cocteau in Cap Ferrat, 1957

Chaplin is pointing to an article about A King In New York from the Sunday Dispatch (London).


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Charlie & Paulette, 1938 1936

I have always been under the assumption that the following photos of Charlie & Paulette were taken at the Del Monte Resort in Pebble Beach during the summer of 1938, after Paulette had showed up out of the blue to reconcile with Charlie, who had been staying there in a rented house since February (read more about this story here).


Many contemporary newspaper articles, such as the one below, used the photos to show the newly reconciled couple hanging out at the resort: 

San Jose News, July 12th, 1938

Well, lo and behold, I have been wrong. Recently, I came across the photo of Charlie lighting up in a June 1936 issue of the London newspaper, The Daily Mail. The caption states that Charlie and Paulette had just returned from their trip to the Far East:

Daily Mail, June 17th, 1936

There's no way a photo taken in 1938 could show up in a newspaper in 1936, so it must have been taken in 1936. My mind immediately went to the photos of Charlie and Paulette aboard the SS Coolidge after they arrived in San Francisco on June 4th, 1936 (below). They are wearing the same clothing as the supposed "1938" photos (except Paulette is wearing a skirt & heels) & Paulette's hair is the same as well.

Jean Cocteau is posing with the couple on the right. 

The only conclusion I can draw is that the two must driven to the Del Monte shortly after their arrival in San Francisco (it's only a couple of hours away) & that's why these photos were used two years later to accompany articles about their reconciliation in Pebble Beach. At the time, who would have known that they were not taken the same year?