Putting up statues to Charlie

This intriguing news report just turned up on a Kazakhstan news site:

A monument to Charlie Chaplin has appeared in Kostanai last week. As reported, it is the 12th in the world. The very fact of a sculpture to the cinematographe idol being installed in our city is quite weird for the town’s standards, especially taking into account that the only movie theatre in Kostanai was recently demolished. In any case, now we have Charlie and a bench near charlie. And as Farid writes in the local newspaper, “the bench is good enough to sleep on it — that’s practical, because we have as much vagabonds in town as in NYC in early 1900s”.

What intrigues me is where the other eleven statues are. I wasn’t able to find a helpful source for this, and so I set out to track them down for myself – though it all depends on how you define ‘statue’. Anyway, I thought I’d share this information with you; certainly it’s pleasing to see how admiration for silent cinema’s most celebrated practitioner is marked worldwide in bronze. So to start with (left) we have the twelfth and most recent statue, that which has gone up in Kostanai.

Next, there’s the renowned statue of Chaplin in London’s Leicester Square. He is located in the heart of London’s movieland, with cinemas all about him, while his fellow statues in the Square are Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, Sir Joshua Reynolds, John Hunter (a pioneer of surgery), and William Hogarth. The Chaplin statue is by John Doubleday, and was created in 1981.

On to Chaplin’s final home, Vevey in Switzerland. In the Square Chaplin, Quai Perdonnet is you’ll find the double of John Doubleday’s statue, showing the little tramp looking out over his favourite view of Lake Geneva and the Alps. It is said to be the subject of pilgrimage, and certainly there are plenty of blogs out there showing people photographed next to Chaplin, leaving flowers there, or even kissing the statue. It was erected in 1982, and is a copy of the Leicester Square statue.

Our next statue is in the seaside town of Waterville, Co. Kerry, Ireland. Waterville was a favourite holiday destination of the Chaplin family. The legend on a stone nearby reads, “For the man who made the movies speak in the hearts of millions. Charlie spent many years in our midst as a welcome and humble guest and friend to many. This image was created by sculptor Alan Ryan Hall. It was funded by the generosity of Josephine Chaplin and by the EU Leader Programme”. It was unveiled in 1998.

And on to Norway. In Oslo, near the Frognerpark, in front of the Coliseum cinema there is a bronze statue of Charlie Chaplin by the renowned Norwegian sculptor (well, renowned to Norwegians, anyway) Nils Aas, dated 1976. Frustratingly, I haven’t been able to track down an image of this in situ [see comments], but here at least is a studio copy. There doesn’t seem to have been any special association of Chaplin with Norway, unlike most of the other statues on view here.

Now let’s away to China, no less. This statue is located outside the ‘Old Film Cafe’. Duolan Road, Hongkou District, Shanghai. The personal connection is that Chaplin secretly honeymooned in Shanghai with Paulette Goddard in 1936. No information as to sculptor or date, but much like most of the statues on display here, you have to say it looks nothing like him. It’s so easy to capture the outline figure, so difficult to capture the man.

I’m not quite sure why there should be a statue on Charlie Chaplin in Venezuela, but there is. It is located in the city of Mérida, where it is to be found in the Plazoleta Charles Chaplin. No information that I can find as to artist or reason. So on to Disneyland Paris, where a statue of Charlie Chaplin welcomes visitors to the Production Courtyard, but I’ve not yet found a picture of this one.

And now we travel to Alassio in Italy. This sheltered spot on the Ligurian coast (the Italian Riviera) is another place where Chaplin often stayed on holiday. The legend on the base of the elongated and not terribly Chaplin-like statue simply reads ‘Charlot’. No information as yet on sculptor or date.

The statue on the left is located in Gabrovo, a small mountain town in Bulgaria. Gabrovo and Gabrovians are apparently the butt of Bulgarian national jokes, but they have responded ingeniously by creating a museum of humour and satire. So it is an appropriate location for a statue of Chaplin. The statue was created by Georgi Chapkanov, and is situated next to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. It also wins some marks for being a little different.

This sitting statue of Chaplin is to be found in the foyer to the Roosevelt Hotel, along Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles. It common with most of the statues, there is particular reason for its location. It was at the Roosevelt Hotel where Chaplin received his Academy Award for The Circus in 1929. Another favourite subject for a host of tourist photos.

Well, that makes eleven. Where’s the twelfth? I don’t think the twelve-foot statue of Kermit the Frog as Chaplin outside the Jim Henson Studios (the former Chaplin Studios) really counts. Nor do assorted figures of Chaplin outside restaurants. I think I’ll go with the statue of him outside the Hollywood Entertainment Museum in Los Angeles, which is pleasingly dynamic (pictured left). If anyone knows of any others, or has more information about those described, do say.

Update (16 March 2009): For the news story about the attempt to build a giant statue of Chaplin in India, which have aroused religious protests, see The 13th Statue.

It’s an ill wind…

Projectors, sound systems and projection miscellanea, from http://www.cinemamuseum.org.uk

Good news re the Cinema Museum in London, which had been facing a bleak future when it was asked to move out of its current location at a former Lambeth workhouse, as it had not been able to find any suitable new home. Owing to the downturn in the UK property market, the NHS Trust which owns the building has decided not to put it on the market until their signs of upturn. So they have put the Museum on a monthly rolling contract for the next six months after which the position will be reviewed. The search is still on for a long term solution, but for the time being the collection is safe. Here’s hoping a new home emerges, just in time for those green shoots of recovery…