Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A living connection to Chaplin's 1921 "The Kid"

An 8 x 10 manila envelope arrived in the mail last week. It was from an internet acquaintance named Steve Cox, who lives in Burbank, California. Steve and I have been in contact for a couple of years now, on matters that include Charlie, The Wizard of Oz and Margaret Hamilton, the Three Stooges, and other important issues of yesteryear. Here's a link to his "Oz" book. Munchkins of Oz

He had told me he was sending me "something pertaining to Chaplin," but gave no hint.

I opened the envelope. This is what was enclosed. A photo collage Steve put together. A signature, in blue ink, was by someone I had never heard of. Silas Hathaway. But I had seen Silas, in Charlie's "The Kid." Silas was the little baby that Charlie finds in an alley, thus beginning one of the most touching and entertaining movies Chaplin ever made, and his first feature-length film. 

Silas Hathaway, as of this writing, is still alive, living in the Los Angeles area. He is 97 years old but in failing health. Steve met him last year and had him sign this for me. 

Silas was born in 1919, the year Charlie began shooting "The Kid." Steve says he obviously has no recollection of the filming. But he did have his original work release card issued by the Chaplin studio for his one month work in 1919. Chaplin released the film in 1921 to great acclaim. And what happened to Silas? I have no idea. He may have been a one-hit wonder. But the wonder of it all is the connection that exists to this day between "The Kid" and the little baby in Chaplin's lap.

Thanks, Steve.

14 comments:

  1. Ger, I know that is something you will cherish. What a wonderful gift!

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  2. So now it's REALLY all been worth it. Extraordinary relic, Ger. Treasure it.

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  3. A great gift. Something to take your mind off the six black holes (from six different galaxies) shooting some kind of beam to a common point in the universe. I don't know about you, but it's freaking me out.

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  4. Gerry, this is such an amazing gift and the story fascinating.

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  5. Gerry, this is such an amazing gift and the story fascinating.

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  6. That is so cool! I always wondered what happened to "Baby Hathaway"

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  7. What a nice gift! I didn't know he was still alive.

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  8. Wow Gerry! What an amazing gift.

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  9. So cool Gerry! An important piece of Chaplin history.

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  10. Unbelievable Gerry!! What a thrill and a surprise that must have been. If anyone deserves it, you do!!

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  11. It was meant it seems for your hands. What a lovely story.

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  12. Hello - My name is Paris Cox and I am Silas Hathaway's granddaughter. I wanted to share with all of you that your mail and comments make him so happy. My mom and I are telling him how famous he has become on the internet. Thank you for all you kind comments.

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    1. This is such a special thought, Paris. Just the fact that someone in Silas's family read this and, even better, took the time to let me know about it. Thank you for writing. And please tell your grandfather that he will live forever in the hearts of millions of Charlie Chaplin fans. He is, after all, the original "kid" in one of Charlie's greatest films.

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  13. How lovely. I also never knew Silas was with us. Bless him

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