Exciting news for Chaplin fans: The auteur’s only work of fiction ever written, a dark novella following the tragedies of a washed-up clown which would become the main inspiration for his 1952 masterwork “Limelight,” will be made available to the public after having gone unpublished for 60 years.
“Footlights,” a slender work running at about 34,000 words, centers on old and alcoholic clown Calvero (played by Chaplin in “Limelight”) who saves a ballerina from suicide. The novella was written in 1948, four years before Chaplin would make “Limelight” and then be banned from the US for his alleged Communist sympathies.
Having sat in Chaplin’s archives for decades, as a mish-mash of handwritten and typed pages, the book has been typed up by Chaplin biographer David Robinson and will be published by Italy’s Cineteca de Bologna. “Footlights” will be available through their website, as well as on Amazon. You can read a segment from it here.
This news comes in the same week that Chaplin’s iconic Tramp turns 100. The little fellow debuted in Keystone’s Mabel Normand vehicle “Mabel’s Strange Predicament,” which opened February 9 in 1914.