catching up with the chaplins

The Seventh Born: Victoria

This will be a new very occasional feature. Sir Chas managed to have eleven children between 1919 and 1962 (yeah, by 1962, he was seventy-three) and that’s including the malformed one who died after three days and was buried under a stone that read “The Little Mouse.” Let’s see what we can dig up on the rest of them shall we?

Today we will begin with my favorite (meaning the one I find the most physically attractive), Victoria Chaplin, born to Chas Chaplin and Oona O’Neil Chaplin on May 19, 1951. I can’t pretend to know much about any of these Chaplin children outside of what most biographies on the old man can report (i.e. he sent them to boarding school in France where they learned to speak French, a language he couldn’t be bothered to speak himself) but here’s what I can gather regarding what exactly Victoria Chaplin has been up to since she was born fifty-seven years ago.

Victoria is one of the less cooperative Chaplin children when it comes to appearing in the occasional documentary produced about their father and his work. Those duties usually go to Sydney, Geraldine or Michael (who sometimes is interviewed speaking in French, sometimes in English). So it is with a certain beggars-can’t-be-choosers attitude that I compiled this in-no-way comprehensive post on this Chaplin daughter.

Whatever. Victoria Chaplin has carved out a bizarre and more than slightly awesome niche for herself. I have no idea what the exact circumstances were, but it seems that at some point Vic married one Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée. Yeah, that is the guy who played Delphine Seyrig’s stepson in Alain Resnais’s Muriel (which in my opinion runs circles around the director’s more-praised Last Year in Marienbad).


When Victoria and Jean-Baptiste eloped, old Chas is said to have been furious—partly because this ruined Chas’s plans to star Victoria in his next feature, The Freak

and partially because when she ran away, she ran away to the circus.

That’s right, Jean-Baptiste and Victoria founded a circus which has been called variously over the years Le cirque bonjour, Le cirque imaginaire, and, finally, Le cirque invisible. Apparently modern circus acts like Cirque du Soleil owe something to this Thiérrée/Chaplin circus. It is odd, then, that Chaplin, a man who gave us these images from a film of his entitled The Circus (!), would be annoyed when his daughter ran away to join the actual circus, but whatever—he seems like he might have been a bit of a prick to get along with.

Here’s a pic of a Christmas gathering at the Chaplin home. Circled are Victoria, the very elfin Jean-Baptiste and baby Aurelia.

Anyway, I found a bit of video of Victoria on the stage circa a few years ago. This is a case of the apple not falling too far from the tree and it is actually quite lovely.

Also there is the matter of this Aurelia, granddaughter of Chaplin, who has joined the family circus biz and has appeared in a handful of films including Goya’s Ghosts and The People vs Larry Flynt. Here she is doing her circus thing:

Finally, I would like to mention that I will hopefully some day get around to the most groovy member of the Chaplin clan, Michael Chaplin. Of course, it all hinges on whether or not I ever get around to reading this little gem:

3 responses to “catching up with the chaplins

  1. Great article, i am a huge Charlie Chaplin fan and run a blog on tumblr, I agree with your assessment about Victoria, some of the pictures I have seen seem to show that she was perhaps his favorite, I have also noticed that none of the boys appear to look like Charlie.

  2. Absolutely agree that Victoria is quite gorgeous – we met her and Jean Babtist – they were performing with Cirque Imaginaire in Seville – parked up outside the theatre living in a a converted truck with the whole family – We were similarly on the road – and making a living as performers – They had absolutely no side to them – completely natural and easy going – just like any other travelling performers – in fact they gave us a sick pigeon! whole family were delightful and the show was beautiful.

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