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

Ella Shields’ Burlington Bertie From Bow was a parody of a parody. Like Vesta Tilley’s Burlington Bertie, Ella Shields’ stage character also harbors  lionly  aspirations and dreams.  But his “people” are very different.

Tilley’s Bertie was  the social-climbing  son of a prosperous middle class   father who   earned his   living “in trade”: a mortally  embarrassing  pedigree for a would-be man-about-town   attempting  to lead the lordly  life of a lion comique.

Shields’  Bertie  also attempts to  projects a false front of lionly elegance. But her stage character  was secretly  penniless,   shirtless and empty-bellied. For a  brief clip of Shield’s doing  her famous signature number 

For the complete   verses to this  very influential song [click on]

Shields’ Bertie is  a member of the shabby gentility. And since he hails from Bow, he is—by definition--a true Cockney .

Like Cockney Charlie’s  Little Tramp, Burlington Bertie (from Bow) also combined the ambiguous social  status of the has-been and would-be dandy. He is an impecunious gent  who is  stranded temporarily  in  lower class circumstances.  But he  either aspires to an upper class status which he has not yet enjoyed   or else he  is a former “aristocrat” who has fallen on hard times. It was this well-established  comic convention   of the ambiguously resonating  has-been and would-be dandy that Charlie Chaplin borrowed  from the proletarian theatrical traditions of British music hall  and smuggled into his signature  screen character the little tramp by way of his precursor film character   in  Making A Living (see next essay).
© 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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