Stars of Slapstick # 77: Sydney Chaplin


Today is the birthday of Sydney Chaplin (1885-1965). As the elder half-brother of Charlie Chaplin, the world owes him much. Not only was he the person responsible for introducing Charlie to Fred Karno and getting him hired by that influential music hall impresario, he was later Charlie’s manager and negotiated amazing deals that allowed his young brother to create the works of genius we still cherish to this day. But more than this, Sydney, was a talented comedy star in his own right. His “Gussle” comedies for Mack Sennett were hugely popular, notably A Submarine Pirate, one of the top films of 1915, and Sennett’s 2nd biggest grossing film after Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914). Sydney Chaplin also had many other hit films, including the first cinematic verison of the Broadway hit Charley’s Aunt (1925) and The Better Ole (1926). And, he was also a valued member of Charlie’s stock company during the First National years, with memorable turns in A Dog’s Life, Shoulder Arms, Pay Day and The Pilgrim.

Now here he is one of his early Keystones, Gussle the Golfer:

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from etc etc etc


2 Responses to “Stars of Slapstick # 77: Sydney Chaplin”

  1. David Leopold Says:

    He was also the subject of one of Al Hirschfeld’s first published caricatures, almost 90 years ago, seen here
    Al also did straight drawings for the same picture, one of which can be seen here

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