Saturday April 16th was the birthday of legendary silver screen comedian Sir Charles Chaplin. If Charlie had still been around to celebrate, there would have been 122 candles on his cake and presumably a fire extinguisher on standby.
Chaplin's birthday got my trivial thought processes bubbling. You see, despite English-born Charlie being one of the most iconic film stars in history, there are quite a number of people who mistakenly believe him to have been American. To be fair, Chaplin lived in the United States from 1913 until 1952 and was even described as an 'American Icon'. However, he was in fact born in London.
This got me to thinking (I told you about my bubbling thought processes) of other film stars whose country of birth may come as a surprise to some...
The man born Arthur Stanley Jefferson in the small town of Ulverston, Cumbria is my all-time comedy hero. Like his compatriot and contemporary Charlie Chaplin, many people mistakenly thought Laurel to be an American. However, it was only Laurel's equally legendary comedy partner Oliver Hardy who was born in the USA. I may be lighting a fuse here but to my mind, Stan was a superior talent to Chaplin in every way. Fans of Charlie don't get too upset - I still think he was a legend.
Would the ultra-smooth, dashing, debonair and - to many women - eminently shaggable Cary Grant ever have had the incredible career he enjoyed if he had kept his real birth name? Somehow the name Archibald Leach doesn't lend itself readily to the virile, alpha-male image does it? Anyway, despite having a Mid-Atlantic accent in most movies, Grant was actually born in Bristol.
Much like Mr Leach, the greatest horror film star of the early 20th-century probably wouldn't have scared the wits out of many cinema patrons if he had starred under his real name. "As sure as my name is William Henry Pratt, this is going to be a thriller". Hmmm.
The late Dame Elizabeth Hilton-Wilding-Todd-Fisher-Burton-Burton-Warner- Fortensky-Taylor was born in 1932 in London to American parents. The 2- time Oscar-winning, one-woman marriage bureau had duel British-American citizenship.
Another of my all-time comedy heroes. The King of the Carry Ons and master of the double-entendre cultivated an on-screen image of the typical British bloke - drinking, gambling and chasing the 'birds'. It may come as a surprise to some that this bastion of 'Britishness' was actually born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that Sid used to ply his trade as a hairdresser!
A real surprise this one. Despite only spending the first two years of his life there, and being a fully-fledged American citizen, Mr Willis was actually born in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Die Hard could have been very different......
"Neun millionen terroristen in der welt und ich gotta töten mit füßen kleiner als meine schwester".
Apologies if my German isn't completely correct by the way.
Swashbuckler Flynn was a Tasmanian Devil long before Taz of Looney Tunes fame and was rocking and raving before Charlie Sheen was even born. The saying 'in like Flynn' came from our Australian heroes constant womanising ways. He liked to buckle his considerable swash as often as he could you see.
I'll finish this edition of The Stu View with a quote from Errol himself:
"My problem lies with reconciling my gross habits with my net income".
Until next time