Charlie Chaplin’s haunts in America

By the mid-20th century, America had entered a creative golden age – but that sometimes caused some trouble with its stars. As a result, Charlie Chaplin went to stay at a resort – and so did Lucille Ball.

When the World War I was drawing to a close, Americans went on holiday instead – and that could take one of two forms.

On the one hand you could go on a traditional honeymoon, albeit with a longer-term notion of ‘putting the years behind’ both you and your honey. The other was to do something a little more imaginative – and unpredictable – for no particularly evident reason.

And so, on their way from Omaha, Nebraska, to Omaha, Nebraska, a couple might stop for a dip in something other than a hole in the ground; play golf, go to a drive-in movie and settle down in front of the radio to enjoy a spot of poker.

To get around, they might keep off the roads entirely, travelling by boat, overcanoe or by their own account through ‘a couple of mines. Yes, they know that’s not exactly Montana in the summertime.

One particular resort was particularly successful. ‘Waterville’ in Maine is the site of the biggest ballpark in the country, but the biggest name to play there was Charlie Chaplin.

‘Waterville’ in Maine is the site of the biggest ballpark in the country – but Charlie Chaplin played there regularly

As a cartoonist, the names most associated with the States are Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. Chaplin and Ball were the names you really knew.

‘Waterville’ may not necessarily have been the world’s greatest resort – it is a wooded area close to the Canadian border – but people seemed to enjoy themselves there. So much so that it is here we find ‘Charlie’, not Mickey or Bugs.

There is a reason that his name is on the field, a reason that his name remains in his swimming pool, and a reason that his name is on his name on, well, just about everything else.

In ‘A Night at the Races’, he makes the following pronouncement: “I was not free to move, but I was free to walk.” This was not a dig at Charlie – but in this year’s version, he adds: “You know the true meaning of non mobility.”

And there is a fitting legacy to ‘Charlie’. Faced with the challenge of constructing a new home for his team, the Cleveland Indians baseball club, Babe Ruth said, quite seriously: “Well, Charlie, if you’re reading this, it won’t work.”

Leave a Comment