Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
Probably the only actor John Cowper admired intensely. Although he never took to the Seventh Art, he made an exception for Chaplin's films; indeed he wrote in his Autobiography "I have an almost religious idolatry for Charlie Chaplin", and in a letter to Llewelyn dated August 26, 1926, he mentions having seen The Gold Rush at the Sheridan Theatre with Phyllis. He also fondly remembers:
I also had tea in the famous studio, while he was directing and rehearsing 'The Pilgrim', with none other than Charlie Chaplin himself.
The first day of shooting of The Pilgrim was April 1st, 1921 and the last day was July 15th, 1922. It starred Charles Chaplin (an escaped prisoner), Edna Purviance (a girl), Dinky Dean (Riesner), Sydney Chaplin (his father), etc. A film with a famous 'tea-party'.
Most eloquently did this great genius describe to me a certain ideal performance, at once profoundly humorous and profoundly tragic, that at intervals kept teasing his imagination. He was dressed, when we had this conversation, in his most characteristic make-up, and I noted how unbelievably beautiful his hands were! After I had listened to him for a while, his brother went out and came back with a tea-tray; and except in one solitary case, I can tell you this was the only really thin bread-and-butter I ever had in America. (Autobiography)
Who is the most Christian as well as the most universal of all artists today? Charlie Chaplin. And why? Because he shows us that the non-recognition of the equality of all souls is the most comical thing there is.
Charlie Chaplin like Cervantes and Rabelais and Dickens brings down the solemn portentiousness of the Great in the light of the beyond-greatness of the commonest living soul. Of that enormous Gravity and Respect for what our poor human race has been humbugged into calling 'greatness' Jesus and Charlie Chaplin call the bluff. (John Cowper Powys, Mortal Strife)