I am Lisa Stein, an Assistant Professor of English at Ohio University-Zaneville, where I specialize in 20th century British and American literature and silent film. In 2006, the Cineteca di Bologna and Le Mani published my new edition of Charlie Chaplin’s A Comedian Sees the World, a travelogue he wrote in 1932-3 about his world tour following the premiere of City Lights in February 1931. This edition is part of Progetto Chaplin at the Cineteca and as such is just one in their collection of fine books on the subject of Charlie Chaplin.
In spring of 2006, as the edition was nearing its completion, I decided to enthusiastically take on the mammoth task of writing the first life-and-art study of Charlie’s half-brother, Syd Chaplin. Work on this book is now in full swing and I expect to have it completed in spring of 2009. This, of course, means lots and lots of travel—staring at documents eight hours a day in some spots—like Bologna or Paris—and then maybe 7 hours a day watching old films at the BFI in London or the Library of Congress in D.C. And that’s just a fraction of what I have to do and where I have to go. Syd was a peripatetic, if there ever was one. I guess to do justice to this project, I would have to look him up in Montreux, Nice, Monte Carlo, Biarritz and a host of other places he liked to frequent. I have lots of time yet to spend in LA, though. Have to dig up a load of skeletons there.
Otherwise, or, in real life, as they say, I live in an old 1926 house in historic Zanesville, Ohio—the home of the only Y-bridge in the continental US—with my cats Syd and Charlie (okay, I have no imagination) and I travel back and forth often to visit my BF Hank, retired Naval aviator (naval-gazer, I call him) and all-around man of intrigue.
Heard in the movie theatre during the showing of a Syd Chaplin picture. First movie fan: “Syd isn’t as good as he used to be.” Second movie fan: “He never was.”
A movie fan asked Syd if he ever received any jokes from outsiders? “Hundreds” said Syd. “Then why don’t you put some in your pictures?”