(Chaplin in Paris – originally published September 20, 1921 in the New York Herald (Paris Edition))
Charlie Hunts up His Old Haunts
Charlie Chaplin, the king of mirthmakers, has at last found that which he came to Europe to seek — a simple rest. This was true up till late last night, but whether he will be allowed to continue to exist in this pleasant state during the remainder of his stay in Paris is another question. Charlie was successful enough in coming from London to Paris incognito, and yesterday morning there were few Parisians who knew at which hotel the secretive Charlie was stopping–even after they had read their journals vaguely announcing that he was somewhere in the avenue des Champs Elysees.
Charlot, as the French know him, was therefore permitted to rest unperturbed in his apartment at Claridge’s Hotel until noon yesterday, even the French reporters having taken the comedian’s gentle hint not to call on him at an early hour. It was past eleven o’clock before the first newspaper man appeared, and he was politely but firmly told that M. Charlot was asleep and would probably not be ready for an interview before one o’clock.
So the newspaper tribe quietly foregathered in the hallway facing Charlie’s apartment to make sure that he did not get out incognito, and here they were content to listen to Mr. Carlyle Robinson, Charlie’s manager, who told interesting tales of the comedian’s wanderings the night before, particularly his visit to the Folies-Bergere, where he used to appear before the footlights some ten years ago.
While Mr. Robinson was thus discoursing, the elevator door opened and a visitor, who proved to be Mr. Dudley Field Malone, walked straight into Charlie’s abode, leaving the newspaper men gasping that they should be thus beaten at their own game. But within a few moments came an invitation for everyone to enter. Inside the drawing room, Charlie was standing near his bedroom door, attired in a blue silk dressing gown partly revealing yellow pyjamas. Charlie had evidently had his usual amount of sleep, for he was all smiles as he shook hands with each of his guests and assured them that he was pleased to see them. In the absence of his famous derby hat, there was revealed a healthy growth of curly, jet black hair, and instead of the familiar little moustache one saw a smooth-shaven face, which made it somewhat hard to realize that it was Charlie of filmland.
Once seated, Charlie asked the reporters to fire away, and this they did, until at last Mr. Malone warned them that they had consumed just about all his limited time. “How do I like Paris? Well, I’m always fascinated with Paris,” Charlie responded to the first bombardment.
Charlie then talked of his wanderings in Paris the night before. He said that he was very much disappointed to find many of the old places changed. His favorite little cafe, near the Folies-Bergere, was no longer to be found, and neither was the cabaret from which he once fled after a mix-up, in which his funny feet became somewhat involved.
At one moment the interview was interrupted, as a startled-looking, red headed young man was ushered in. Glancing nervously about him, he asked with a French accent: “Where is Charlot?” As Charlot stood up, he planted himself squarely in front of the comedian and in broken English began an effusive discourse, which he had apparently memorized in advance. “My dear Charlie, is it really you?” he questioned. “I am so glad to see you, Charlie. We have been waiting so long for you. Now, I do hope you like Paris. Paris is such a wonderful city, you know. And, dear Charlie, you must visit our shows. But you look so funny, Charlie. Where is your mustache? And where is your hat? And how long are you going to stay in Paris? And where do you go now, my dear Charlie! You must be so tired.”
Charlie stood it as best he could, but it was too much for the risibilities of the newspaper men. They retreated to the end of the room, where, by the aid of handkerchiefs, they stifled their laughter and the congeal plight of “dear” besieged Charlie. Then they came to his aid by shaking hands with him, as they took their leave and filed out.