This Day in History (7-Feb-1914) – Charlie Chaplin debuts “The Tramp” in “Kid Auto Races at Venice”

Kid Auto Races at Venice is a 1914 American film starring Charles Chaplin in which his “Little Tramp” character makes his first appearance in a film exhibited before the public. The movie portrays Chaplin as a spectator at a ‘baby-cart race’ in Venice, Los Angeles. The spectator keeps getting in the way of the camera and interferes with the race, causing great frustration to the public and participants. This film was shot in 45 minutes at a go-cart race. It was Charlie Chaplin’s second ever appearance on film. Although it was the first film released involving the Tramp, Chaplin had actually devised the outfit for the film Mabel’s Strange Predicament produced a few days earlier but released a couple days after Kid Auto Races at Venice.

Mabel’s director Mack Sennett had requested that Chaplin “get into a comedy make-up”. As Chaplin recalled in his autobiography: – I had no idea what makeup to put on. I did not like my get-up as the press reporter [in Making a Living]. However on the way to the wardrobe I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat. I wanted everything to be a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large. I was undecided whether to look old or young, but remembering Sennett had expected me to be a much older man, I added a small moustache, which I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expression. I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the makeup made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked on stage he was fully born.

The Little Tramp, also known as The Tramp  was a recognized icon of world cinema most dominant during the silent film era and was considered an international character; when the sound era began in the late 1920s, Chaplin refused to make a talkie featuring the character. The 1931 production City Lights featured no dialogue. Chaplin officially retired the character in the film Modern Times (released in 1936), which appropriately ended with the Tramp walking down an endless highway toward the horizon. The film was only a partial talkie and is often called the last silent film.

 

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kid_Auto_Races_at_Venice

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tramp

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0004189/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv

http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/kid-auto-races-at-venice-1914/

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