CHARLIE CHAPLIN the NEW YORK PHOTOGRAPHS
A few years ago, the above set of proofs appeared
on the Internet, possibly on an auction site. I believe the source was given
as the New York Library, but what the NYL was doing selling off an item from
its archives raises serious questions. Where the proof-sheets are now, I
have no idea. So, I worked with what I have, and present them below for your
perusal and comment. [If anyone has claim to copyright, please let me
Whenever I see portaits of one of my subjects of research, I have an obsessive need to find out just where and when they were taken. Often, the photographer's logo is on the finished portrait. If one can track down where the particular photographer was based, then one can only presume that the subject visited that studio.
In some cases, the photographer has facilitated
the task, by putting the name of the city below his name. This may be in
abbreviated form - eg. NY for New York, or MN for Minnesota (or is that
Information I discovered only recently is that
this set of proofs was taken at the "White Studio" in New York. Whether
it was named purely because it was a white studio, or because the photographer's
name was "White" I don't know. But it's a good start.
So the first thing to do is sort through the dates Chaplin was in New York City. These were far fewer than most Chaplin scholars believe. Below are the only dates (between 1910 - 1913) he was known to be there: (*1)
2 October 1910 - 20 November 1910
Chaplin and the Fred Karno Company were next in
New York as follows:
[N.B. There was a very small window of opportunity for Charlie to have had a portrait-sitting when the Karno Company arrived in New York to catch their return ship to England on 6 July 1912, but it is more likely that Charlie would have waited till he got to London, and gone to his favourite photographer on Westminster Bridge].
Chaplin also made two day trips to New York in April 1913, when the
Karno Company had a week off between playing an extended run in Philadelphia
- but again, it was not an ideal opportunity.
Even when dating evidence is available, it can
often cause confusion. Anyone viewing the above advert for "Sunnyside" in
isolation, could be forgiven for believing it was a contemporary photograph.
However, by comparing it with the photo left, one can see that it comes from
the New York set - taken at least eight years, and maybe even nine,
As I am in possession of other portraits of Chaplin, taken in 1911 and 1912, then I would tend to conclude that Chaplins' sitting for the above portaits was between October 1910 and January 1911. If you know different, please let me know.
Immediately above is does say "If
know different, please let me know" - well, some years after I had
written the above, someone did let me know different. Spats White came
forward to say:
The "New York Photos" that the erroneous article refers to were the photos taken while Charlie was in New York City for a war bond rally with Mary and Doug in 1918 of which the above photo is one. Even the article goes on to show how Chaplin used one of the photos in an ad for his film "Sunnyside" in 1919 and asks "why?" Because it was taken shortly before that in 1918, that's why.......
I had been troubled for a while why this photo had been used as late as 1919. My article was written on the premise that Chaplin could have only had the photos taken in New York when he was in the Karno Company, never thinking he had cause to make a later visit (apart from the Atlantic Crossings). So thanks to Spats White for solving that mystery. I appreciate facts and good solid evidence.
(*1) ALL the US towns and cities the Karno Company played between 1910 and 1913 are listed and recorded in detail in my book "CHAPLIN - Stage by Stage." To purchase a copy, use this link:
(*2) Most writers state that Chaplin made two tours of the US with Karno - 1910 and 1912, which, without being pedantic, is incorrect. Chaplin did make TWO Atlantic crossings with the Karno Company, in those years, but then actually played FIVE tours. [Again, full details can be found in "CHAPLIN - Stage by Stage." (See above link!)]
What they said:
I was amazed by the book. It really is the
single most massively researched book in Chaplin
I'm much enjoying "Chaplin - Stage by Stage"
- impossible to understand him, or his career without