The Kid

The Kid-Chaplin's first feature length film was released on February 6, 1921. Both critics and the public considered it a masterpiece. "A picture with a smile and perhaps a tear"; words in the opening title sum up the picture's range of emotions. In my opinion, the scene reuniting the Kid, Jackie Coogan, with Charlie, ranks as one the most heart wrenching in cinema. The mixture of comedy and tragedy is absolutely amazing.

Message from:
 David Totheroh 12/12/2000
THEN 1921  NOW 2000
All photos by Rollie & David Totheroh
Gerald was coming to LA and asked Bonnie and me if we'd like to take a ride over to poke around the Keystone Studio area (he can tell you more about that himself). When we finished up there, of course we had to go down the street the few blocks to Echo Park, the one where, with a Girl and a Cop, Charlie shot so many of the Keystone one- and two-reelers. As we were getting ready to leave, since it was around lunchtime and we were relatively close by, I suggested we get a sandwich at Phillipe's, an old haunt from way back in my  college days. Besides, I had a vague recollection of Grandpop talking about shooting some stuff for The Kid in that area.

We pulled into Union Station just 3 blocks from the Santa Fe depot (where Charlie and Rollie and Jack Wilson had high-tailed it out of town to keep the neg. from Mildred's lawyers) and parked. As we got out of the car, Gerald said, "That's it! That's the building! Ya know, sometimes I just have a 'feel' for something, and I think this is it."

We went across the street and shot a few pictures, then it was on to French-dip and the drive home (but not before a little inconclusive snooping around Boyle Heights for the old Majestic Studio location).

A couple of days later Gerald called, asking for confirmation, "We were right, weren't we?" He had checked the photos against the film, which I couldn't do 'cause he had the pictures. But what I had done was to go back to Grandpop's recollections. It turns out he was far more precise than I had remembered. Here's what he said:

To hear Rollie click here MP3 file.
MP3 file graciously provided by David Totheroh

RT:  Oh, and in The Kid, downtown, or uh, where he was running over rooftops and everything, and he jumped into the automobile or, the little truck that they were takin' Jackie to the asylum, orphanage asylum, the alley that he caught up to the truck in, Charlie jumped over and into the truck and grabbed the kid, and the attendent that was drivin' the truck to the orphanage asylum turned around and saw Charlie, well, that locale, today is uh, uh, what's the name of that alley down there, Mexican alley?

DT:  Oh, you mean the uh...

ST:  Olvera Street?

DT:  Olvera Street?

RT:  Yeah, Olvera Street.

DT:  Oh, is that the one?

RT:  Yeah, Olvera Street. Nothin on it but the backs of some old buildings. Little alley goin' there, through there.

This as an excerpt of an interview with Rollie, his brother Dan and grandson Steve at Christmastime 1964.

So, if you're in the downtown area of Los Angeles and want to make some Chaplin connections, head on down to that little Mexican Alley, Olvera Street. And as you walk about half way up that short block, along the west side, take a look around. You'll find yourself standing at the exact location, over 80 years later, of one of the most moving and memorable scenes from a true Chaplin classic, The Kid.

David Totheroh

Rediscovered by Bonnie, David and Gerald. Of course, we did have a bunch of help from Rollie.
Olvera St Los Angeles, CA 90012
Chaplin Film Locations THEN & NOW
© 2000 JerRe