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.

12 responses

  1. Greetings!

    Congratulations for the lovely site and keep up the good work!
    Just a small clarification for the Bulgarian statue of Charles Chaplin – it’s based in a small mountain town in the middle of the country, called Gabrovo. It’s a town that has been of great importance during the Bulgarian national revival in the XIX century and it is our official town of humour and satire (a lot of our national jokes are on the account of the residents of Gabrovo)! There is a museum, called ‘National House of the Humour and Satire’ and the monument of Chaplin is in front of it, alongside the sculptures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza by the same sculptor, professor George Chapkunov.

    Hope that has been helpful. I’ve been meaning to visit Gabrovo again recently in order to photograph the statues (which are a lot!), but will see if that’ll be soon… After that, I might send you some pictures of the Chaplin momument, if you wish. :)

    Kind regards,

    Marina

  2. I love the idea of the town which is the butt of national jokes (every country has one) setting up a museum of humour and satire. And how right to have Chaplin alongside Sancho Panza. Thank you for having supplied the helpful extra information (I’ll adjust the post accordingly), and I’d certainly like to see photos if and when you have them.

    Luke

  3. Here is a photo of Colosseum Kino in Oslo where you can glimpse the Chaplin statue in front of it:
    Colosseum Kino

  4. Thank you Eirik. Was there any particular association between Chaplin or Oslo, or is he just a good subject for a statue if you are going to put one up in front of a cinema?

  5. There is no connection as far as I know, I think the statue was part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Oslo Kinematografer, the Oslo branch of the Norwegian municipal cinema system. But maybe there are other connections. There is a statue of Marilyn Monroe by the same sculptor in the small coastal town of Haugesund (where an international film festival takes place every year)because her father’s father apparently was born there.

  6. Message from Marina Uzunova:

    Here are some photos of the Chaplin monument in Gabrovo, Bulgaria that I promised to supply some time ago:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/govalms/CharlieChaplinGabrovoMonument
    I have to apologise beforehand for the quality of the photos – it was an incidental travel through the city of Gabrovo so I had no equipment but my phone. Anyway, it is a beautiful statue and I hope the images manage to convey it to some extent.

    All the best!

  7. We have not seen the last of statues of Charlie Chaplin, as indicated by this report from Thaindian News (7 March 2009)

    Now 62-foot Charlie Chaplin statue in Karnataka, thanks to film

    Beautiful Maravanthe beach will soon get a 62-foot-high statue of master comedian Charlie Chaplin, thanks to a film being shot there. The crew hopes their efforts will find a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

    The statue would be erected near Maravanthe beach – about 400 km from India’s tech capital Bangalore – for director Hemanth Hegde’s Kannada film “House Full”. The filmmaker said he would like their creation to remain a tourist attraction even after their shoot.

    “We are shooting a song sequence in Maravanthe Beach where this 62-feet statue of Charlie Chaplin is being shown. It will remain a tourist attraction after we finish the film’s shoot,” said Hegde.

    “We have applied for recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records. David Brown from the Guinness Book is expected to arrive in India to scrutinise our claim,” he added.

    Produced by Anuj Saxena of Maverick Productions, “House Full” will see Hegde play an important role along with actor Diganth, Vishaka Singh and Girija Oak, who had featured in Aamir Khan’s “Taare Zameen Par”.

    “Our film’s art director Chethan Mundadi is constructing the statue with the assistance of many students from different art schools in the state. It will cost us Rs.35 lakhs (Rs.3.5 million) and we are awaiting permission from the Karnataka government to install the statue. All the formalities have been completed in this regard and we will probably install it on March 28,” said Hegde, who has directed three Kannada films and Hindi film “Khanna and Iyer” earlier.

    The director claimed that the BBC would be doing a half-hour programme on the installation of the statue for the film.

    “House Full” is a comedy about two irresponsible youngsters who are always finding new ideas to please their girlfriends.

  8. More on the Karnataka Chaplin statue, which has just been attacked:

    Bangalore, March 15, 2009: BJP activists have attacked Charlie Chaplin statue in Karnataka. The statute was built for filming a scene of a Kannada language film.

    The BJP and the RSS activists who attacked the statue called the funny character from Hollywood films as a Christian character and attacked it. The producer of the film says that he and his unit had taken advance permission from city administration before erecting the statue…

    Read more here:

    http://www.khabrein.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20897&Itemid=88

  9. Pingback: The 13th statue « The Bioscope

  10. Despite much searching – and getting people going there to look out for it – I have found no photographic evidence of a Chaplin statue at Disneyland Paris. However, here’s another Chaplin statue – in Moscow:

    Charlie Chaplin

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