Showing posts with label Sydney Chaplin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sydney Chaplin. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sydney Chaplin on "Password," April 29th, 1965

Many thanks to my friend, Tom, for bringing this to my attention. I'd never seen it before.

Sydney mentions that he was still performing with the musical Funny Girl as Nick Arnstein, opposite Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice. He had been nominated for a Tony for the role the previous year (he won the Tony in 1957 for Bells Are Ringing).

An interesting sidelight: This program aired nearly two weeks after the death of Sydney's namesake, his uncle Syd Chaplin, who passed away on April 16th (Charlie's birthday).

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Day By Day: 1936

Friday, June 5th: Charlie and Paulette return to Los Angeles

They arrived home by car, having driven down from Pebble Beach that morning.

Shortly afterward, Chaplin contacted his sons, Charlie, Jr. (11) and Sydney (10), who had not heard from their father since he left in February.
I remember the day in early June when Dad phoned the school and said he was back and would like to see us. Syd and I were jubilant. On Friday, just as though no months had intervened, a smiling Frank showed up in the car to take us to the house on the hill. 
"Your fathah," Frank told us on the way home, "he got married down at Hong Kong on the boat." 
When we asked for details, he shook his head. 
"I didn't see 'em get married," he said with a laugh. "I don't hang around them all the time. They have their things to do. I have mine. But they tell me so." 
At last we were back in our father's home again. Dad and Paulette were waiting for us. They looked happy--Dad especially. He always enjoyed his excursions abroad, but each time he was thoroughly glad to get home. He really wasn't much of a traveler, and the feeling of being rooted had become so strong in him by this time that he was to stay in the United States for sixteen years after this trip. 
Syd and I ran up and kissed first Dad and then Paulette. Paulette stooped and hugged us both while Dad laughingly confirmed Frank's piece of information. But though Dad told us flatly that he had married Paulette, it was to remain a family secret for years, because neither of them bothered to tip off the reporters. Throughout the long period they were together the newspapers continued to speculate as to "when" and "if" and "where." --Charlie Chaplin, Jr, My Father Charlie Chaplin, 1960

Coming up: Charlie and Paulette are involved in an accident.


Day By Day: 1936: A chronicle of year of Chaplin's life

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Working with Charlie Chaplin: Vol. 4

I couldn't come up with a title for this one but suffice to say you didn't want to get on Chaplin's bad side. I must admit that I did consider calling it "For Christ's Sake!" You'll see why...

[Chaplin to assistant director and half-brother, Wheeler Dryder, during production of Monsieur Verdoux] "No, no, no, shut up, you silly bastard, for Christ's sake, we cut to Annabella, you don't understand anything about motion pictures. I know what I'm doing, yeah, that's what I cut to. I have been in this business for 20--for 30 years, you don't think I am gaga? Oh, shut up...Christ... We cut to Annabella, I know goddamn well what I am doing...For Christ's sake, I have been cutting this scene in my mind for the past three years...I know exactly...then the music starts....Don't talk to me." (reminiscences of Robert Florey via "Charlie Dearest" by Brian Taves, Film Comment, April 1988)
Group shot on the set of Monsieur Verdoux, 1946:
L-R: Robert Florey, Wheeler Dryden, Henry Bergman (in front), Rollie Totheroh, and CC

After I had been working at the Manoir for a few days I ventured to ask if he ever stopped work for a cup of tea during the afternoon. He snapped back, "I don't like tea." Feeling this to be a bit lacking in consideration, I retorted equally, "Well, I do." To my surprise instead of a lordly rebuke he said quite gently, "How thoughtless, you must forgive me, Eric." He at once rang for Gino [the butler] and from that day and every day thereafter a gentle tap would be heard on the door at precisely 4:00 pm and Gino would appear with a silver tray containing a pot of tea, a wedge of chocolate cake, and an assortment of sweet biscuits. At this point Mr. Chaplin would then absent himself from the room for five minutes. Occasionally he would remain, sitting in the armchair facing me and I would feel waves of suppressed irritation wafting over me as he tapped his fingers on the arm of his chair and dared me with his eyes to linger a moment longer than he considered necessary. (Eric James, Making Music With Charlie Chaplin, 2000)
CC with longtime music associate Eric James

[Chaplin to son Sydney, who played Neville in Limelight] "For Chrissakes, come on Syd!. Get some feeling into the lines...Show a little warmth!...For Chrissakes, what's wrong with you? Get the lead out of your pants!" (Jerry Epstein, Remembering Charlie, 1989)
With Sydney in Limelight

It was on 
A Woman Of Paris. We were all in watching rushes. And he said, "Rollie, that's out of focus." And I said, "Gee, if it was out of focus, my eyes are sharp, I'd tell you." "For Christ's sake! Jesus Christ! Lousy!" he said. So I said, "Well, if you can say that is lousy, you'd better get yourself another boy." He said, "I will." "Okay." So he ran down to Mr. [Alfred] Reeves office. I went back and sat in my office. They went to lunch, and I went to lunch and came back...Word came down that we'd call it a day. [That night, Alf Reeves went came to talk to Rollie at home and made sure that he would come in the next day. Rollie said he would, and give Charlie his two weeks' notice.]The next morning I was sitting on the bench and instead of Charlie driving in through the gates where he always did, he came into his front office through the screen door and I was sitting on the bench outside. He mentioned to me to come down to him and he turned around and put his behind up in the air and he said, "Kick me in the ass, Rollie." And I did. And he said, "You know, I wanted to take that shot over anyhow." ("Roland H. Totheroh Interviewed," Timothy J. Lyons, ed., Film Culture, Spring 1972

With Rollie, 1923
He got so frustrated with Almira Sessions that he started yelling and screaming. 'Why can't you get anything straight? All you have to do is this, this and this...'" (Interview with Marilyn Nash, "Limelight" newsletter, Spring 1997)

Almira Sessions as Lena Couvais in Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

"Hello, Gardiner," he said, looking at me with those strange, deep blue, and at times, pathetic eyes. "Say, you didn't show up at 6 a.m." And then rather sharply: "You held everything up, you know." I explained to him that there had been some mistake about the call as I had not received one the night before and that I was sorry I had caused him any inconvenience, but that it really wasn't my fault. "I must have cooperation at all times from people who work for me," he answered. "If people don't show enthusiasm over their work with me, I've no use for them. And if you feel you are not going to be able to put everything you've got into this role. I can always get someone else."I felt mortified and completely tongue-tied. I pulled myself together and, as calmly as I could, that I would do everything possible to do my part to the utmost and was looking forward to being in the picture more than any other assignment I had had previously."Well, that's fine, Reggie," he said, smiling now. "Let's say no more about your being late this morning." I smiled and thanked him and he walked away over to the camera. (Reginald Gardiner, "The Pleasure of Meeting A Dictator," New York Herald Tribune, September 16, 1940)

Reggie Gardiner, left, as Schultz in The Great Dictator (1940)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Party For Charlie & Oona

Here is home movie footage of a party given for Charlie & Oona by their friends, Walter and Carol Matthau, in Los Angeles in 1972. The footage is silent but includes some nice shots of Charlie, plus some other familiar faces.

Click here:

Excerpt from "Among the Porcupines" by Carol Matthau:
The major social move we made after coming out here to the West Coast to live was to give a party for Charlie Chaplin and Oona. It was 1972 and Charlie was coming back to the United States to be honored, first in New York and then by the Motion Picture Academy with a special Oscar. Gloria was going to give them a party in New York, and we were giving them a party here. Charlie was no longer in the very best of health, so Oona suggested that I make it a luncheon. I asked her for a guest list, so with the exception of a few really close friends of ours, the selection was theirs.
The party went very well, with people who had not seen one another for such a long time getting together again. Charlie and Walter were walking around the garden, and Charlie looked out to a brilliantly bright blue sea with what seemed to be thousands of tiny sailboats floating gracefully.
Charlie gazed out at the sea for a long time and then said to Walter, “Now that really must have cost you fortune.”
Charlie was that way. He saw life in terms of movie sets or scenes or ideas for movies. He loved seeing Lewis Milestone and Groucho Marx and Danny Kaye and Oscar Levant and Frances Goldwyn.
It was the last time Charlie was to be in California.

A couple of still frames:

Charlie & Oona
Charlie & son, Sydney
Martha Raye

Monday, March 30, 2015

The birth of Chaplin's second son was making headlines this week in 1926

Happy birthday, Sydney (March 30, 1926)

Logansport Pharos Tribune, March 31, 1926

Los Angeles Times, April 2, 1926.

Arthur "Sonny" Kelly was the brother of Hetty Kelly.
 Milt Gross worked as a gagman on The Circus. Read more here.

Mary & Doug refer to Charlie, Jr. as "Spencer" (his middle name). In another article below, Lita calls him Spencer. This seems to have been a name that just didn't stick. See also this interview with Chaplin from 1925.

Lita with her boys, Charlie, Jr. (left) and Sydney

Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1926
According to the above, if the baby were a girl, Charlie said her name would have been Cecilia,
 but that's not what Lita says. Keep reading...

Rhinelander Daily News, April 2, 1926
Father and sons. Sydney is the one with the curls.

Oakland Tribune, April 23, 1926

Following her divorce from Chaplin, Lita began calling Sydney "Tommy," after her paternal grandfather, Thomas McMurray. She admitted in her second book, Wife Of The Life Of The Party, that this was due to her dislike of the elder Sydney whom she claimed had made a pass at her while she was married to Charlie.

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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The eldest Chaplin boys during army induction and training

Charlie, Jr. at his army induction, 1943, (left) and during training at Camp Haan, CA, 1944
Sydney at his induction (left) and at the Ordnance Training Center in Flora, MS, 1944

View the enlistment records for Charlie, Jr. & Sydney here & here.

Both boys served in General Patton’s Third Army during WWII. Charlie, Jr. received two battle stars for his service.

He later remembered that his father was proud that he was in uniform.
He always lectured me about taking my duties seriously. I never left for camp that he didn’t put his arm around me and give me a pep talk.
"Charlie," he would say, "I want you to be a good soldier. If you don’t do anything else be a good soldier." 
And once he even received a rare, personal letter from him.
He must have just seen a newsreel of soldiers working their way through mined houses, because the letter was full of warnings about booby traps. He was genuinely worried. 
"Be careful where you walk, son," he wrote. "You might step on a mine and blow off your foot. It's not good to go through life maimed. Don't pick up strange objects, you might get a hand blown off."
He seemed especially concerned about pianos and singled them out for attention, warning me not to play on a strange one or to lift it or move it for fear the whole thing would blow up in my face. I suppose pianos troubled him so much because ever since I had shown an interest in music he had associated me with them. I had to laugh. Pianos were the least of my concern while bullets were flying overhead and shells were lobbing over and an occasional German plane was strafing us. (My Father, Charlie Chaplin, 1960)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

RIP, Shirley Temple

Below are photos of Shirley with Paulette Goddard and Chaplin's eldest sons, Charlie, Jr, and Sydney, in Palm Springs, 1935

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chaplin family Christmas card, c. 1972

The greeting is in Oona's handwriting. Back row L-R : Josephine holding her son Charly, Jane, Nick Sistovaris (Josephine’s then-husband), Eugene, Sydney with his son, Stephan, in front of him, Noelle Adam (Sydney's then-wife), Victoria holding her daughter Aurelia, Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée (Victoria’s husband). Front row L-R: Annette, CC, Oona & Christopher. Geraldine & Michael are absent. Charlie, Jr. died in 1968.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

World premiere of Limelight, October 16th, 1952

The world premiere took place at the Odeon Theater in London in the presence of Queen Elizabeth's sister, Princess Margaret, who later told Claire Bloom, "I laughed and cried and cried and laughed."

Above: Newsreel footage of the premiere. 

Charlie and family at the premiere.
Son Sydney (who plays Neville) towers over all of them.

A page from the program for the London premiere.
( Source: Limelight, Chaplin Project, N.1)

The film opened in the U.S. a week later. However because of the negative feelings about Chaplin in America at the time, it was banned in many theaters. Chaplin eventually withdrew the film from circulation. When it was re-released in 1972, Chaplin & Ray Rasch won the Academy Award for Best Original Score.

Letter from the American Legion to United Artists requesting suspension of the film's distribution.
( Source: Limelight, Chaplin Project, N.1)

In July 1953, Charlie & Oona received a touching letter from brother, Sydney, who had just attended a private screening of the film with his wife, Gypsy, in California:
"We think it is a 'masterpiece' and the greatest Charlie has ever made. There are no superlatives I could use to do justice to it. It was so well acted, so beautifully balanced between laughter and pathos. Gypsy and I cried like kids, so much so, that we waited for everyone to leave the room before we left our seats. You did an excellent piece of acting Charlie and so did Claire Bloom....
It's a good thing you have not my brooding nature. If I had had to endure the persecution you have received in this country, someone would have been murdered. I think it is a damnable crime that such a picture as 'Limelight' should be banned in America....I get a great satisfaction when I hear people praise your work. It makes me very proud of you and I console myself with the thought that I am Charlie Chaplin's brother, which is my usual form of introduction and which does not arouse in me the slightest thought of jealousy. I glory in your success and bask in your 'Limelight'" (Syd Chaplin: A Biography, Lisa K. Stein, McFarland, 2010)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

With his sons Charlie, Jr. (left) and Sydney, 1940

The original caption (in Dutch) said Charlie & the boys were on his motorboat. I assume this is on the Panacea but I'm not sure. I'm also not sure what Charlie is doing with his hands here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Japanese tea ceremony, 1932

Sydney Chaplin is at far left, Toraichi Kono at far right. 
"More than anything I saw in Japan, the tea ceremony revealed to me the character and soul of the nation- perhaps not of modern Japan, but the Japan of yesterday...Each movement is studied to create tranquillity. Not a sound is made during the preparation. Not a gesture is unnecessary. You watch in silence the beautiful preparation. In the sanctity of peace you refresh your troubled mind in liquid jade." (Charlie Chaplin, "A Comedian Sees The World, Part V", A Woman's Home Companion, January 1934)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Directing Sophia Loren in A Countess From Hong Kong

The setting for this scene is supposed to be Hawaii but it's actually an alleyway at Pinewood Studios in England.  In the background are Charlie's kids Jane, Christopher & Sydney (far right).