I told the artist I liked it, wanted to buy it, but didn't have the money. I left...without the drawing. Four months later, back home in St. Louis with a job, I had the money, wrote the artist, heard back that he had put the artwork away for me, knowing I'd buy it someday. And that's how it started.
Now, 50 years later, after numerous visits to book stores, eBay, garage sales, antique stores, and even the Montecito Inn, I figured it was time to put some of the items on display. The most difficult part was deciding on the items.
|Joe Delmore at work|
A rewarding side note: while we were arranging the items, I was surprised by how many people stopped, smiled, and talked about Chaplin and silent movies. The exhibit contains over 50 items, including posters from the Museum of the Moving Image in London (now closed) when they were celebrating Chaplin's 100th birthday. Books from Sweden, France, Ukraine, Germany, Japan and India.
A match book cover from the legendary Hollywood restaurant, Chasen's, signed by Charlie. The restaurant opened in 1936, was famous for it's chili, and celebrities, and shuttered in 1995. True to Hollywood habits of ignoring its past, the building was demolished to make room for a grocery store.
Even a beach towel (not vintage, never used) and a tee-shirt with a caricature by David Levine. I have a lithograph signed by Hirschfeld, but kept it at home. Too large for the display case. I also excluded two large boxes of clippings, photos, cards, etc. that would have made the exhibit look like an attic.
I have seen two great Chaplin exhibits in my life. The first was at the aforementioned Museum of the Moving Image, in London. Located on the South Bank of the Thames, it was literally just blocks from where Charlie was born and spent an impoverished youth. The items on display put me back into the late 19th century, gaining insight into the world of the young Chaplin.
The other exhibit appeared in October, 2010, at the Zanesville Museum of Art. Organized by Lisa Stein, who was responsible for the
First Charlie Chaplin International Conference,
the exhibit featured a remarkable array of
Chaplin material - letters, photographs, artwork, books and magazines, personal items. What made it a singular experience for me was to be wandering around the museum in the company of people like David Robinson, Chuck Maland, David Shepard, and other Chaplin experts and writers from around the world. My only regret was not staying in Zanesville an extra day at the museum.
If you're in St. Louis, or driving through, stop by the Library, across from the swanky Plaza Frontenac collection of up-scale stores, most of which Charlie would not have patronized.
If you're in New York - caution: plug alert - check out the new show on Broadway, "Chaplin: The Musical," which begins previews on Aug. 21 and opens on Sept. 10.
|The Three Stags Pub, courtesy of Carl Sturmer|
|A pint of bitter. To your health.|
If you're in London, stop by the Three Stags Pub for a pint. That's the last place Charlie ever saw his father. I have a glass from there, thanks to another Chaplin friend and fan, Carl Sturmer of New York. Carl has documented a lot of buildings and locations in London connected to Chaplin, which I'll be referring to in future posts. My "to do" list now includes sharing a few pints with Carl at the Three Stags.