Photo Essays
1. Exile’s Return
2. Chaplin’s Parents
3. Hannah Chaplin’s Femmes Fatales
4. Playing Dress-Up  In The Land of Make Believe
5. Teenage Girls and Fear of Aging
6. Chaplin’s Three Teenage Wives
7. Mildred Harris
8. Lita Grey
9. Oona O’Neill
10. Chaplin’s Father
11. A Royal Lion
12. Vesta Tilley as Bertie
13. Ella Shields as Bertie
14. Making A Living
15. The Lion Comique’s Son: Dressed Like A Bum
16. Monsieur Verdoux as a Lion Comique
17. Calvero as a Lion Comique
18. The Lion Comique’s Son in the Limelight
19. Charlie as a Child
20. The Kid’s Lucky Break
21. Syd Chaplin
22. A Family Album of Theatrical Drunks
23. Chaplin’s Family Romance
24. Edna Purviance
25. Purviance’s Influence on Chaplin’s Character
26. Essanay
27. Chaplinitis
28. Chaplin’s Predecessors
29. Eye Contact: Audience-Performer Intimacy
30. Chaplin the Auteur
31. Chaplin’s Two Autobiographies
32. Going It Alone
33. The Circus
34. Autobiographical Starvation Scenes From The Gold Rush
35. Autobiographical Madness Scenes in Modern Times
36. Two British Music Hall Traditions and Topical Comedy
37. The Great Dictator
38. Fatal Attraction: Joan Barry
39. Monsieur Verdoux: Guillotine or Hatchet Job?
40. Limelight
Chaplin: A Life In Film
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 The Circus
Roy Export
(Jeffrey Vance Collection)
Charlie  Chaplin (top left) as Napoleon and Marion Davies
(top right) as Nell Gwyn from  the rotogravure section of a Hearst newspaper. Costume party (center photo) at William Randolph Hearst’s
with Marion on Charlie’s right and Lita Grey, Chaplin’s teenage wife, in the middle row dressed as Josephine de Beauharnais. Years later, Lita Grey told her biographer (Jeffrey Vance) that one of Chaplin’s   standard pick-up lines had been  to approach a beautiful young woman and tell her he was thinking of making a film about Napoleon and that she would be his perfect Josephine.

Not surprisingly, Chaplin named his second daughter Josephine Hannah. In her less than fully lucid dotage,  chronically psychotic Hannah Chaplin frequently  referred to her world-famous son as The King--with Nell Gwyn-like grandiosity. As to Marion Davies’ featured  cameo as Hearst’s Nell Gwyn-like  fantasy mistress. Dorothy Parker wrote:  

Upon my honor, I saw a Madonna
sitting alone in a niche,
above the door
of the glamorous whore
of a prominent son of a bitch.

The poem  refers to the  fact (or Hollywood legend) that Hearst once installed  a priceless Renaissance art treasure--a statue of the Virgin Mary--above the entrance to Marion Davies’s ostentatious fourteen    room  bungalow at MGM. It was the same studio  bungalow where she and Charlie  used to meet    for their clandestine   trysts. When  necessary, the MGM studio guards  discreetly alerted  the lovers if Hearst happened to show up at the studio gates  for an unscheduled visit.

Nothing if not possessive and   besotted with Marion, Hearst’s   nickname for her  “tender button”  was Rosebud—an in-group Hollywood joke  that Orson Welles gleefully alluded to in Citizen Kane. Davies’   nicknames for Hearst  were droopy drawers and the old man. And it was also whispered that Hearst accidentally murdered   Thomas Ince having gone on the warpath in a blind fit of sexual jealousy  and mistakenly assuming that he was shooting Chaplin.


Herald Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library
© 2008 All Essay Rights Reserved.

All images from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, Copyright © Roy
Export Company Establishment._Charles Chaplin and the Little Tramp are trademarks and/or
service marks of Bubbles Inc. S.A. and/or Roy Export Company
Establishment, used with permission.

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