2010-04-30 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Did the Famous Charles Chaplin Summer at Rockaway Point?
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
It was published a long time ago in a Wave anniversary souvenir edition, that the famous funnyman of silent films in the early 1900s, Charles Chaplin, made his professional debut with the Fred Karno players at the old Morrison’s Summer Theatre, located at Beach 102 Street and the Bowery….in the seaside section of Rockaway Beach. In a skit called ‘A Night at the Opera’ Chaplin’s job was to fall out of a theatre box onto the stage. This was shown in the movie of Chaplin’s life made some years ago.

Many famous personalities of the old days summered in the Rockaways, and among them was Hettie Green, the witch of Wall Street; Kate Smith, the famous singer of ‘God Bless America’; Irving Berlin, who wrote the song in 1917 for a World War One Show called ‘Yip! Yip! Yaphank!’ the latter an army base out on Long Island; Amos and Andy of the old radio show; and Rudolf Valentino was said to have judged a beauty contest at the old Arverne Hotel on Beach 69 Street… in secret! Even the Wright brothers were supposed to fly here and land near Beach 90 Street. Flight demos were to be given, but they canceled out-no reason given.

Today’s View shows a dock and float at Rockaway Point, and look who is carrying the suitcase on the left. Is that Charlie Chaplin himself? The card this photo was printed on was mailed in 1911, so it is possible! The scene is near Reid’s Dock at the point, on the bay front.

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