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10 NOVEMBER 2019

We will be millionaires before long

Writer: Nikolas Markozanis

In 1914, Charlie Chaplin was on the cusp of superstardom. In February, he made his big-screen debut in Making a living; two months later, his directorial debut, Twenty minutes of love, was also released. That year alone, he starred in 36 films for Keystone Studios, 19 of which he wrote and directed, and audiences were beginning to fall in love. In August, as Keystone's boss, Mack Sennett, attempted to renew Chaplin's contract and others in the industry tried to lure him away, Chaplin wrote a rare and excited letter to his brother, fellow actor, and eventual manager, Sydney, and brought him up to speed.

 

Four months later, Chaplin left Keystone for Essenay where he released 15 films, including, in April of 1915, The Tramp. Before long he was one of the highest paid actors in the world.

Los Angeles Athletic Club,

 Los Angeles, Calif.

 Sunday Aug 9th

 

 My Dear Sid,

 

 You are doubtless realising who is addressing you. Yes. It really is  your brother Chas. after all these years, but you must forgive me. The  whole of my time is taken up with the movies. I write, direct, and play  in them and believe me it keeps you busy. Well, Sid, I have made good.  All the theatres feature my name in big letters i.e. 'Chas Chaplin hear  today'. I tell you in this country I am a big box office attraction. All  the managers tell me that I have 50 letters a week from men and women  from all parts of the world. It is wonderfull how popular I am in such a  short time and next year I hope to make a bunch of dough. I have had  all kinds of offers at 500 a week with 40% stock which would mean a  salary of or about 1000 a week. Mr Marcus Lowe, the big theatre man over  hear, has made me a proposition which is a certainty and wants me to  form a comedy company and give me either a salary per week or 50% stock.  This is a sure thing, any way, the whole matter is in the hands of my  Lawyers, of course I shall finish out my contract with the Keyst.  people, and if they come through with something better I shall stay  where I am. This Marcus Lowe business is a sure I have a guarantee sale  at all his theaters and then sell to the outside people. Anyway, I will  let you know all about it in my next letter. He will finance the whole  thing if it comes through it means thoullions to us. Mr Sennett is in  New York. He said he would write to you and make you an offer. I told  him you would do great for pictures of course he has not seen you and he  is only going by what I say. He said he would give you 150 to start  with. I told him you are getting that now and would not think of coming  over hear for that amount. If you do consider it, don't sign for any  length of time, because I will want you with me when I start. I could  get you 250 as easy as anything but of course you would have to sign a  contract. It will be nice for you to come over for three months with the  Keystone and then start for ourselves. You will hear from Sennet but  don't come for less than that understand? You will like it out hear it  is a beautiful country and the fresh air is doing me the world of good. I  have made a heap of good friends hear and go to all the partys ect. I stay at the best Club in the city where all the millionairs belong in  fact I have a good sane, wholsome time. I am living well. I have my own  valet, some class to me eh what? I am still saving my money and since I  have been hear I have 4000 dollars in one bank, 1200 in another, 1500 in  London not so bad for 25 and still going strong thank God. Sid, we will  be millionaires before long. My health is better than it ever was and I  am getting fatter. Well you must tell me how Mother is and don't forget  to write me before you sign any contract because there is another firm  who will pay you 250. They wanted me and I told them about you, as I  could not break my contract of course. Mr Sennett is a lovely man and we  are great pals but business is business. Of course he does not know I  am leaving or that I have had these offeres, so don't say anything in  case it gets back hear, you never know. I would not like to heart Sennet  feelings he thinks the world of me. Now about that money for mother do  you think it is safe for me to send you it while the war is on, or do  you think it better for you to pay my share and then we will arrainge  things later on. So long as I know the money will get there I will send  it. Anyway tell me in your next letter what to do. I hope they don't  make you fight over there. This war is terrible. Well that about all the  important news. I have just finished a six real picture with Marie  Dressier the American star and myself. It cost 50,000 to put and I have  hog the whole picture. It is the best thing I ever did. I must draw to a  close now as I am getting hungry. Just this second my valet tells me I  have friends to take me out Automobiling so am going to the beach to  dine. Good night Sid, Love to Minnie.

 

 Your loving brother

 

 Charlie