Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Small Gathering for Charlie's Birthday

Welcome to my new blog. What better way to start it off than with a look at our gathering for Chaplin's birthday last Monday.

On April 16 a few dedicated Chaplin fans got together for an enthusiastic celebration. The location was a popular sports' bar in the St. Louis area, Mike Duffy's, where the walls are lined with TV screens. They gave us a private room and, when I asked about running some Chaplin films, they turned 5 screens over to us. The group included the president of the St. Louis Writers' Guild; a local historian and guide; a widely-read blogger and author; an expert on all films silent, especially the comics; a couple who drove 100 miles for the occasion; and myself, Chaplin aficionado, lecturer, and author of a novel about Chaplin. 

For three hours we talked about Chaplin, his childhood, his return to the U.S. in 1972, the Oscar-winning movie "The Artist," and the pending Chaplin museum in Vevey, Switzerland. We ended lunch with the thought that our next gathering would not only be larger, but not a year away. All we need is an excuse to get together again.

Pam Beahan
Pam Beahan even wrote a poem, called "Charlie Chaplin's Birthday Candles," which she read:

"The glow of your birthday candles
        reminds us
        of the warm lights
        of blazing knowledge and truth
  that seared through your soul
  and shimmered onto the screen.

We love you and your films
   for speaking so softly and gently
   of the healing triumphant, joyous power
       of kindness and compassion,
       of humor and laughter,
       of creativity and talent,
       of intelligence,
       of perseverance,
       of forgiveness,
       of delight, and
       of love.

With such inspiration as you have given us,
   our sometimes small flames
   have often crescendoed
   into rhapsodies of illumination
   that sing symphonies
   of bright, harmonious living
   that can bring us ever closer
to the brotherhood
of being "citizens of the world,"

where even the once-blind "can see now,"

and we try to remember
to "smile though" our "hearts are aching..."

And gratefully, in your birthday candles/ glow
we vow to be come
of your shimmering soul."

Thank you, Pam... and to everyone who was there. 


  1. Gerry, welcome to your new blog focused on Chaplin, one of your great passions. I hope that it will draw more readers to your fun book "Shadow and Substance: My Time with Charlie Chaplin."

    The Chaplin birthday lunch was so much more than I'd anticipated--a soiree! --a salon! Three hours in such witty company was not too long. Thanks for including me!

    Janet Riehl

  2. What a wonderful - and quick - response to the new blog. Thanks, Janet. Your wit is always welcome in any group. I'm so glad you were there.

  3. Gerry, it was a true joy to sit around talking about Charlie and old Hollywood. Thanks for gathering us together.

  4. I never realized you were so interested in movies, Brad, especially the old ones. Your attendance at the lunch added immeasurably to the proceedings. Joe Delmore, the guy sitting next to you, is probably one of the leading exponents of Laurel and Hardy films in the Midwest... or at least in St. Louis. Glad you enjoyed yourself.