Who were Chaplin’s guests on Danube camping trip?

For the curious, the answer comes from the Cheltenham Telegraph, who discovered it via its own ‘experts’. Photograph: WTF News/Rex

On 30 July 1923, the Gentlemen of Hollywood took their annual camping trip from Los Angeles to the Downs town of Waterville – dubbed ‘paradise’ – on the Danube. For the curious, the answer comes from the Cheltenham Telegraph.

People enviously loathe Hollywood, knowing that real people do not party till dawn, smoke profusely, gorge on cold cuts and cocktails, and give parties in the nude. An admittedly random resort reporter was thus lured in to monitor the daily life of the ‘victims of Hollywood’s fame and fortune’.

Never were the tragedies of the star system so painfully obvious. When Daily Express editor Rudyard Kipling heard that Charlie Chaplin had booked a cottage at Waterville, he wrote a ‘May I sleep with this priest?’ column, inviting the monsignor of St Francis de Sales church, Chaplin’s prayer partner for 45 years, to join the news business and help him ‘improve the picture’.

Most diabolical of all, Chaplin-whisperer Kipling labelled Chaplin a ‘rich actor’ – and, thus, a poor boy from an old money, in between fancies with Alida Valli and Rosalind Russell.

Six days later, Kipling reported on the ‘brave, though fit and brilliant Charlie Chaplin, who asked for asylum in a medieval chapel’ when he found himself outside the walls. The vultures were close at hand.

How any of this might affect the actual lifestyle of Hollywood stars remains mysterious. But perhaps Kipling et al have overlooked the fact that virtually every tourist attraction in Waterville, such as the wonderful cottages built by Chaplin and Otto Preminger, are represented by portraits of the movie stars.

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