The name Marceline Orbes is an obscure one today. But to Charlie Chaplin, the auteur of early cinematic comedy, it was deeply significant. Marceline, as he was generally known, was one of the superstar clowns of the trans-Atlantic stage, appearing for five years at the Hippodrome in London, from 1900 to 1905, before embarking on a stunning ten-season residency at the New York Hippodrome. By 1915, Marceline had established himself as one of the western world’s most popular comedians. He was also one of the most influential.
Unfortunately for historians, pop culture scholars, and circus enthusiasts, Marceline’s work occurred almost exclusively in a live, theatrical setting — almost nothing of it survives to be appreciated and studied today. Even Mishaps of Marceline (1915), his sole foray in the world of narrative film, has been lost. Marceline deserves much more recognition than he has received…
Words by Darren Reid
(Via The Appendix)