Museum’s Silent Film Benefit honors Charlie Chaplin

One hundred years ago a young actor was asked to add a comedy element to the short film, Mabel’s Strange Predicament. He quickly threw together some random pieces of clothing and an icon was born. The actor was Charlie Chaplin and his little Tramp character became one of the most recognizable figures in movie history.

One hundred years ago a young actor was asked to add a comedy element to the short film, Mabel’s Strange Predicament. He quickly threw together some random pieces of clothing and an icon was born. The actor was Charlie Chaplin and his little Tramp character became one of the most recognizable figures in movie history.

Quite possibly the best example of Chaplin’s Tramp can be seen in  May.  The Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Benefit will showcase the film in the historic Avalon Casino Theatre on Saturday, May 17 at 1 p.m. City Lights will be accompanied by a 39-piece orchestra, led by Grammy Award-winning conductor Richard Kaufman. The orchestra will perform the film’s original score written by Chaplin himself.

“I had no idea what make-up to put on,” Chaplin wrote in his autobiography about the moment he created the Tramp.

“I wanted everything a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large. I added a small moustache, which, I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expression. I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked on stage he was fully born.”

“By mid-1914 he was already popular,” wrote film critic David Robinson in his Chaplin biography. “By 1915 he was international. The speed with which it happened, without the modern media, is astonishing.”

“1914 is a really important year,” stressed Chris Daniels, director of England’s Slapstick Festival. “Chaplin comes along and changes everything. Those who arrive after him, like Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton, start standing on each other’s shoulders – the creativity blossoms. It’s hard to say but I imagine that without Chaplin that wouldn’t have been possible. Certainly not on the same scale.”

Tickets for this year’s Silent Film Benefit featuring City Lights are selling fast! Tickets are $15 for members of the museum, $18 for general admission.  Arrive in your best 1920’s dress and receive a 50% discount on admission to the Silent Film Benefit!  Prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed individual and couple.

Purchasing tickets is easy. Please call 310-510-2414, visit the museum in person, go to the Silent Film event page on www.CatalinaMuseum.org or mail your payment to Catalina Island Museum, PO Box 366, Avalon, CA 90704 (Attn: Silent Film).

Want to learn more about Charlie Chaplin’s connection to Catalina Island prior to the Silent Film Benefit? Visit the museum to view its new exhibition, Chaplin and Goddard: A Secret Love Affair.

The Catalina Island Museum is Avalon’s sole institution devoted to art, culture and history.  The museum, its digital theater and store are located on the ground floor of Avalon’s historic Casino and are open 7 days a week, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website: CatalinaMuseum.org.

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