One of a series of actors’ reminiscences edited by Jack Tewkesbury.
My father Charlie Chaplin was used to the Southern California climate and hated the cold. He’d say, “It’s so cold here in Switzerland you have put food in the refrigerator to warm it up.” Once he and I went to an exhibition by Matisse in Paris. He was looking at the extraordinary paintings, and suddenly he got very depressed and said, “I used to be famous, too. ” Then he looked around and added, “I used to be well known.”
Little by little, people started looking at him. They said, “Charles,” and they came up and asked for his autograph and then he started saying, “Yes, he’s not a bad painter.”
He was very, very insecure, always. There’s that wonderful story about Flaubert. Apparently when he was dying he said, “I’m dying and that bitch Madame Bovary is going to live forever.” I suppose my father thought, “Here am I, getting old, and that little tramp is still doing gymnastics.”
My father was anti-American, but he didn’t try to impose his ideas on us, certainly not his political ideas or religious ones. He was an atheist, yet he sent me to Catholic school. He gave us all a choice. He was bitter about America although he wouldn’t admit it. He kept saying, “I don’t want to go back there,” but I’m sure he did. Anyhow, no way he could. He had a British passport. America, at that time, would not issue him a visa.
We were going to Japan once, and when the plane came down at Anchorage and everyone had to get off , he refused. “I’m staying right here.” And he sat down and wouldn’t get off the plane. Finally they carried him off and he said, “Oh well, it will be nice to have an American cup of coffee,” which seemed strange.
Nobody longs for an American cup of coffee!Read More »