Showing posts with label Sid Grauman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sid Grauman. Show all posts

Sunday, April 9, 2017

With Sid Grauman

I've never seen this one before. Given how young both of them look, it may have been taken around the time of the opening of Grauman's Million Dollar Theater in 1918.

The caption on the back reads:

"Chaplin in one of his moods of play. He's probably singing one of his topical songs of the music-hall days, which Sid Grauman, the Los Angeles exhibitor, finds intriguing."

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hollywood premiere of THE GOLD RUSH at Grauman's Egyptian Theater

More than 15,000 fans, held in check by ropes and police, gathered outside the theater on the evening of June 26th, 1925 to watch the celebrities descend from their cars. Among those in attendance were: Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Gloria Swanson, Mabel Normand, Rudolph Valentino, John Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer, who were on their first date. Chaplin's then wife, Lita Grey, did not attend.*

Cover of premiere program. See the inside here.
Inside the theater the stars were announced to the audience via an elaborate stage prologue called "Charlie Chaplin's Dream" described as a "thing of matchless beauty":
A novel presentation of the celebrities present was accomplished by unreeling a special movie showing a procession of stars in specially acted incidents with Fred Niblo as master of ceremonies, both in film and on the stage.
Rudolph Valentino in the screen introduction was presented in a bathing suit and bathrobe as an oceanside victim of auto thieves. At this point a noise of running feet in the aisles attracted attention to a racing figure which was Rudy, sure enough, in a bathrobe.  Niblo reproached the sheik for appearing in such a costume, whereupon Rudy nonchalantly unpeeled the checkered robe and revealed the proprieties of a tuxedo.1
The applause for Mabel Normand's entry was second only to that of Charlie himself.

Chaplin at the premiere.

When the film was over Chaplin received an ovation and made his way to the stage but was "too emotional, he explained, to make much of a speech and then, characteristically, he proceeded to deliver a fairly good one."2

John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlotte Pickford, and Mary Pickford
at the opening.
Another person in the audience that evening was William E. Curry, grandfather of Lita Grey, who was Chaplin's original leading lady in the film until she became pregnant. "At the intermission, old Mr. Curry confided to a friend the depth of his disappointment at seeing Georgia Hale instead of Lita in the screen triumph he had anticipated for his 17-year-old granddaughter."3

Chaplin with Sid Grauman

Afterward a party was held for Charlie at the home of Sam Goldwyn. The celebrations continued the next afternoon with a "bachelor lunch party" at the Montmartre attended by the "back wash of the Chaplin premiere of the night before. Charlie himself with Douglas Fairbanks, Harry d'Arrast, and Robert Fraser." Charlie was clad in a "snappy sports outfit, white buckskin shoes, white serge trousers with a black hair line, and a form-fitting khaki coat. He received visits from many admirers at his table." Interestingly, a "nattily turned out" Syd Chaplin was also there, but "lunched with Hawaiian friends."4

*Lita had been in practical seclusion during this time. Three days after the premiere, the birth of Charlie Chaplin, Jr. was announced. His date of birth was given as June 28th, although he had actually been born on May 5th. Since Charlie and Lita had only been married 6 months, he paid the doctor $25,000 to falsify the birth certificate with a later date. In order to keep the birth a secret for another 7 weeks, Lita and the baby were hidden away--first in a cabin in the San Bernadino mountains and then in a house in Redondo Beach. 

1Rosalind Shaffer, "All The Old Guard of Movieland Sees Chaplin Premiere," Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1925
2David Robinson, Charlie Chaplin: His Life and Art, 1985
3Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1925
4Rosalind Shaffer, Chicago Daily Tribune, July 5, 1925

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

L-R: Chaplin, Joseph Schenck, Irving Berlin, Fred Niblo, and Sid Grauman, January 1928

This photo shows Sid Grauman presenting Berlin with a "life pass" to the Chinese Theater in the form of a watch. Taken on the occasion of the Irving Berlin Jubilee at the theater.

Chaplin appears to be wearing the same coat he wore three years earlier at the end of The Gold Rush when he becomes a "multi-millionaire."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rare newsreel footage of the groundbreaking ceremony for Grauman's Chinese Theater, January 1926

In addition to Charlie, others in the clip include Sid Grauman, Norma Talmadge, Conrad Nagel, and Anna May Wong.

The counter covers up the last couple of words in the first title card.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Like his bowler hat and cane, the Tramp's curly black hair has always been a distinct part of his character. Chaplin was aware of its significance early on and when getting into costume, his hair became just as important as his mustache. For instance, in How To Make Movies he can be seen fluffing up his hair before putting on his derby. He told Lita Grey during the filming of The Kid: "I never brush or comb my hair in the morning when I get up if I'm going to make up as the Tramp. I like the Tramp's hair to look unkempt under his bowler."1

Charlie and his unkempt curls in The Kid 

Dan Kamin noted that Charlie's tousled hair "reinforced his head movements such as his frequent gesture of shaking his head after a fall, and nicely counterpoints his carefully trimmed mustache."2

Chaplin always had an interest in hair. One of his first jobs was as a lather boy at a barber shop perhaps this experience sparked his interest in cutting hair. It's well-known that Chaplin preferred to cut his own hair, although he did go to barbershops occasionally.

Charlie’s hairdresser, Gabriele Di Rito, gives him a trim, 1960s.
 According to Di Rito, Charlie was a very good tipper.
Chaplin fixes Paulette Goddard's hair on the set of Modern Times.

He also enjoyed cutting and styling the hair of his leading ladies, as well as the coifs of family and friends, but not always with positive results. Some of the victims of his tonsorial experiments include:

King Vidor
"Once he said after tennis--he  used to call me Buddy--"Come on up, Buddy, and I'll give you a haircut." So I sat on a high stool and he gave me a hair cut. A few weeks later I was down in Los Angeles and I went in the barber shop and the barber said, "Who cut your hair last time?" And quietly I said "Charlie Chaplin." The barber looked at me and said, "I ask you a civil question. I expect a civil answer."3
May Collins

May Reeves
Since he didn't like my going to the hairdresser, he cut my hair himself, or rather slashed it, so I looked like a village child disfigured by the barber. Chaplin didn't like long hair; he preferred it almost shaved, like a boy's, so that one could see the shell at the nape of the neck. He abhorred curls and waves. "Hair should fall naturally," he lectured me as he made deep notches in mine.
I groaned, "Enough, enough, Charlie! No shorter!" But he cut with such fury that the newspapers the next day would surely proclaim me a refugee from a gypsy camp.4
Oona O'Neill
"Oona had beautiful long hair," remembered Chaplin's second cousin Betty Chaplin Tetrick.  "After Geraldine [the couple's second child] was born she couldn't decide whether or not to cut it. She was young, and like young girls she made a big thing of it. Charlie got the scissors and made the decision for her. He loved to cut hair. He started cutting but couldn't get it even, so he kept cutting. The poor thing ended up with this short and jagged haircut."5
Sid Grauman
Sid Grauman, whose long, bushy locks have been for years the target for many good-natured gibes from friends and columnists, appeared on the scene one day as Charlie was engaged in feather-edging his own neckline. In the mirror, Charlie spied Sid's long bob. He talked fast to allay any suspicion of the foul intent in his mind, completing his work. Then, jumping down from the chair, he pounced upon the unwary Sid, urging him to let him "trim some of those uneven ends a little." Sid climbed into the chair, cautioning Charlie to "go easy." Charlie snatched up the electric clippers and, before Sid could stay his hand, buzzed a neatly mowed path through the forest of Sid's Fiji-Islanderish locks. Then whirling the chair so Sid could glimpse the havoc, and the picture of penitence, he explained that the clippers had "slipped." So there was nothing to do but cut the whole head to match. Sid took one despairing look and slumped speechless deeper into the chair, cursing himself silently for a trusting fool. 6 
Grauman didn't speak to Chaplin for months afterward.

The results weren't always negative, however. Ivor Montagu told Kevin Brownlow that Chaplin gave his wife, Hell, "the most marvelous haircut she's ever had."7 And Chaplin seemed to go easy on his daughter Josephine in these photos of a haircut he gave her in the 1960s:

He also put his hair-cutting skills to use in his films. He played a barber in The Great Dictator (1940) as well as in a deleted scene from Sunnyside (1919). He also becomes a barber to a bearskin rug in Behind The Screen (1916).

Since black hair was a well-defined part of his character, when Chaplin's own hair began going gray in the late 1910s, it became necessary to dye it for the screen. He was touching up his sideburns as early as The Kid 8 and must have been dyeing it all over by 1922, if one compares out-of-costume photos of the same period with the films. There is a long-running myth that Chaplin's hair went white overnight due to his divorce from Lita Grey in 1927. But this myth can easily be debunked by comparing photos of Chaplin from before his marriage to Lita and after. The difference is far from drastic:

Chaplin in 1924 (left) and in 1928

His changing hair color was so noticeable during his 1921 visit to London that he received a letter from a Liverpool "scalp specialist" offering to restore its color. "I shall be pleased to examine your scalp and give you a candid opinion," he wrote. "If nothing can be done I will state so frankly."9 However, Chaplin was never vain about his gray hair. He only dyed it for his films and once the film was over, he allowed his hair to return to its natural gray. In public and in photo shoots he often slicked down his graying curls with pomade. Perhaps this was an effort to distinguish himself from his screen character.

As Chaplin got older and began wearing his hair shorter, so did the Tramp. The tramp hair in later films, such as City Lights and Modern Times, is not as wild and bushy as it was in earlier films. Chaplin also began allowing a little of his gray hair to show through. In The Great Dictator, the barber returns to the ghetto with grayer hair suggesting the passage of time. Similarly, Monsieur Verdoux's hair is much whiter at the end of the film when he runs into the girl again after the death of his wife and child. The characters in two of his last films, Limelight and A King In New York, were, like their creator, completely white-headed.

To conclude this piece on hair, I'd like to present an article from 1925 in which Chaplin describes a haircutting episode in which he took things a bit too far:

Gaffney Ledger, Oct. 29, 1925
Click to enlarge

1Lita Grey Chaplin, Wife Of The Life Of The Party
2Dan Kamin, Charlie Chaplin: Artistry In Motion
3Kevin Brownlow, The Search For Charlie Chaplin
4May Reeves, The Intimate Charlie Chaplin
5Jeffrey Vance, Charlie Chaplin: Genius Of The Cinema
6Gerith Von Ulm, Charlie Chaplin: King Of Tragedy
7Brownlow, Search For Charlie Chaplin
8Lita Grey Chaplin, My Life With Chaplin
9Charlie Chaplin, My Trip Abroad

Saturday, October 19, 2013

L-R: Fred Niblo, Joseph Schenck, Irving Berlin, Sid Grauman, & Chaplin, 1928

"Berlin, songwriter, is presented with a life pass to Graumans Chinese Theatre on the occasion of the 'Irving Berlin Jubilee.' Witnessing the presentation of the gift, a watch, are Fred Niblo, Joseph M. Schenck, Berlin, Grauman and Charlie Chaplin." (Motion Picture News, February 1928)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Charlie, Borrah Minnevitch & Sid Grauman, 1928

Borrah Minnevitch was the leader of the Harmonica Rascals. These photos were taken at Grauman's Chinese Theater which was decorated for the opening of The Circus.