Chaplin in Los Angeles

Dancing Trousers

In the beginning of the XX century Hollywood looked almost like a village. The remote lands of the city were cheap, that is why famous studios were built here. At the same time, one can hardly call Los Angeles one city: high hills prevent those small 80 towns LA consists of from uniting. That is why when making a tour around Los Angeles, divide it into several parts and choose a qualified guide. There are many of those in LA, by the way. Still, what is the thing Los Angeles is most known for? That’s right, its cinema, Hollywood. Who was the most known inhabitant of Hollywood? Charlie Chaplin.

He arrived to Hollywood in 1913 at the age of 24, when he was already known in England. His first contract said he would be paid 150 dollars a week. They say that two years later his income was 13 thousand a week. It was then, in February 1914 that Chaplin invented his famous image which he would not change for around thirty years: derby hat, toothbrush moustache, oversized trousers and shoes. This happened when he was acting in his second film, Kid Auto Races at Venice.

Venice Beach is still one of the most pleasant beaches of Santa-Monica, in the west of Los Angeles. The place is filled with a sort of an old-fashionedness, and you are likely to meet someone walking like Chaplin, with a derby hat on his head.

In 1922, when his income was much higher than in the beginning, Chaplin started looking for a proper house at Beverly Hills. Souvenir shops sell maps which guide tourists around the houses that once belonged to local stars. Chaplin’s Summit Drive 1085 is one of those – an eclectic and tasteless building, one could say. However, it contains 40 rooms, a cinema and an organ. Just like in those remote times, nowadays Beverly Hills is the country’s most known and most expensive ZIP code.

But what about Hollywood? In 1917 Chaplin built a studio at the corner of La Brea avenue and Sunset Boulevard. Here the famous “Gold Rush”, “Modern Times”, “City Lights” and “The Great Dictator” were shot. There are even Chaplin’s footprints immortalized in cement by the pavilion 3 – this, by the way, is thought to be the predecessor of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Charlie Chaplin left this studio in 1953, but this was the studios’ end. In 1985 a group of famous singers including Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Kenny Rogers and Stevie Wonder recorded the song “We are the world” here. Nowadays the studio belongs to Jim Henson Productions, and its main gate is adorned with a wonderful statue of Kermit the Frog, dressed like Chaplin.

Los Angeles inhabitants still remember Charlie Chaplin. For instance, there is The Silent Movie Theater located at the Fairfax avenue. The theatre has 224 seats, is decorated in elegant art deco style and demonstrates silent-era films which Chaplin held on to. The first sound film, ” The Jazz Singer”, appeared in 1927, but Chaplin kept silent until 1940, when “The Great dictator”, his first dialogue picture, appeared. He was a talented composer and musician, but his principles, his aim to save the original film language, meant much more to him.

Chaplin received his Oscar in 1929, at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Many stars visited the hotel, but there is one statue adorning its entrance – its Charlie’s.

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