Charlie Chaplin Dons Drag in “A Woman”


Charlie Chaplin’s comedy short A Woman was released on this day in 1915.

In this Essanay comedy, Chaplin plays his usual park masher, who ends up coming home with Edna Purviance and her mother (Marta Golden), whom, I must say are not very discriminating about whom they bring into the house. When the father (Charles Inslee) comes home, the Little Fellow runs upstairs and dons feminine garb as a means of escaping the house without getting his neck broken. Later after the father has made a pass at him, Charlie (now “Nora”) uses that fact to blackmail the dad into letting him date his daughter. And I must say he doesn’t make a bad looking woman!

A little over ten years ago, I worked up a screenplay with the intention of filming a re-make of this short, which is still on my to-do list as part of my series of silent comedy experiments like this one. ‘

* Thursday, July 30, 7:30pm Eastern: don’t miss my talk on the History of Drag in Vaudeville in Dixon Place’s Hot! Festival. Get the full skinny here.

For more on silent and slapstick comedy, including films like Charlie Chaplin’s A Woman, don’t miss my book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.

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