Newspaper History presents media sourced from a United States newspaper dating back 108 years.

  • Charlie Chaplin

    From the New York Tribune, May 26, 1915.

    This Chaplin was wondrously comic, they told me,
    For weeks they continued to pester and scold me
    For sneering; I said that his antics were cheap,
    That his slap-stick endeavors would put me to sleep.
    “But he is so genial,” they said, “and so sunny,
    There never was any one equally funny.
    He walks in the quaintest, most curious fashion,
    So you’ll smile with delight or grin with compassion,
    And surely there’s nothing so fatal to gloom
    As a reel in which Charlie is made to consume
    Some peas with a knife; and his quizzical face,
    And the way that he stumbles all over the place
    Is simply immense; you will joyously roar
    Till the usher relentlessly points to the door.
    Why scorn Charlie Chaplin because he displays
    A species of art which wins popular praise?”

    So I went the next evening to see who was he
    Who seemed to provide such Dickensian glee,
    Whose stupid expressions roused millions of smiles
    And lured hard-earned quarters in fabulous piles;
    I sat and I waited with tremulous pulsing,
    Convinced that I soon would be wildly convulsing
    With uncontrolled giggles; and then on the screen
    Appeared, stumbled, ambled—you know what I mean—
    Our friend Charlie Chaplin; alas and alack,
    With a woebegone gaze and his hand on his back;
    He ran and he fell; and the maniac laughter
    Resounded and rose to the farthermost rafter.

    He banged all his colleagues, and kicked them around,
    And stepped on their throats as they lay on the ground;
    He ran with his hat on the side of his head;
    And the populace roared till their faces were red.
    Thus then, he continued; and when he had ended,
    The girl that was with me said, “Isn’t he splendid!”
    “O yes,” I replied, with a sorrowful sigh,
    “The masses adore him, and now I know why:
    With his silly confusion and countenance glum
    Their ideal American Hero has come!”