Showing posts with label Lady Astor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lady Astor. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Chaplin delivers a Thanksgiving speech at Plymouth, England

On November 15th, 1931, Chaplin took part in an open-air Thanksgiving service held at the place where the pilgrims embarked on their voyage to America. He attended as the guest of Lady Nancy Astor, who represented Plymouth as a member of Parliament.
So dense was the crowd which listened to Mr. Charles Chaplin when he spoke at an open-air Thanksgiving service held for fisher-folk at Plymouth to-day, that women and children were forced to the edge of the fish quay, the scene of the service, and one ten-year-old boy was pushed over, falling 20 feet into the sea.
A young man at once dived in after him but got into difficulties. Another man, also fully dressed, then jumped in and brought the boy safely ashore.1
Charlie is mobbed in Plymouth

Ten thousand people crowded on the quay and surrounded a truck bed that was used as a platform. On the truck stood Chaplin, Lady Astor, and the Bishop of Plymouth.

Chaplin was asked by Astor to address her constituents. Holding a megaphone, he told the crowd that he sympathized with fisherman in their arduous work. "Still, we all have our tribulations," he said. "Even millionaires have their tribulations, and we must just put up with them."1 He went on to tell his fellow countrymen that "the more I see of England, the more I love her.  But the only thing I can do for her is to make her laugh."2

With Lady Astor

1Leeds Mercury, November 16, 1931
2Milwaukee Sentinel, November 16, 1931

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

World Tour (1931-32) Revisited: London premiere of City Lights at the Dominion Theater, Feb. 27th, 1931

Charlie's guests were George Bernard Shaw and Lord & Lady Astor (Ralph Barton is facing Charlie on the left.)
 When the film was over, Shaw said, "The little fellow is a genius whom none of us has properly appreciated."

Dominion Theater program
Charlie takes a bow following the premiere.  He told the audience:
"It would be silly to say how much I feel all this emotion. This has been a wonderful triumph for me,
coming home to my own country like this. Some day, perhaps, when I have a few more gray hairs
I may sit down quietly and write it all down in a book about my life."

After the screening, Charlie held a party at the Ritz-Carlton. Winston Churchill was among the guests.  He danced with several ladies but he was most intrigued by a dancer named Sari Maritza, who, along with her friend, Vivian Gaye, had attended the premiere as guests of Charlie's press agent, Carlyle Robinson. She became his constant companion until he left for Berlin two weeks later. 

Winston Churchill at the City Lights premiere party.
City Lights party: Vivian Gaye is second from let, Sari Maritza is on the far right,
Carlyle Robinson is standing behind her. 
Charlie with a chef at the Ritz-Carlton

World Tour Revisited: I follow Chaplin on his 1931-32 tour of the world. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

World Tour (1931-32) Revisited: Charlie meets George Bernard Shaw at a luncheon hosted by Lady Astor, Feb. 25th, 1931

L-R: Aviator Amy Johnson (standing arm in arm with Charlie), Lady Astor, George Bernard Shaw
 (petting a greyhound), Lord Astor, and Ralph Barton (far right).

Charlie originally planned to meet Shaw during his visit to London in 1921, but when he arrived at his doorstep, he suddenly felt "self-conscious and silly," so he changed his mind.  Ten years later, Charlie admitted he was still nervous about meeting the great playwright but after a discussion on art and world economics, he decided that Shaw was "a benign gentleman who uses his intellect as a defensive mechanism to hide his sentimentality." *

Lady Astor was born in Virginia and was the first woman to sit as a member of Parliament in the British House of Commons. Charlie was very fond of her and thought she would have made a wonderful actress: "Toward the end of lunch," he remembered, "Lady Astor put in some comedy buck teeth that covered her own and gave an imitation of a Victorian lady speaking at an equestrian club. The teeth distorted her face with a most comical expression. She said fervently: "In our day we British women followed the hounds in proper ladylike fashion--not in the vulgar cross-legged style of those Western hussies in America. We rode sidesaddle hard and fast with dignity and womanly comeliness." **

Charlie remembered that during this post-lunch photo session a cameraman asked Shaw to "turn this side."
 He replied "good-naturedly": "I'll do nothing of the kind, this is the only side you'll get." *

Two days later, Shaw and Lady Astor would be Charlie's guests at the London opening of City Lights. I will have more on that later this week.

*"A Comedian Sees The World, Part One," A Woman's Home Companion, September 1933
**My Autobiography, 1964