Chaplin’s First Scene – a Very Busy Place to Film

Chaplin's first on-screen appearance

Chaplin’s on-screen debut.  Movie theater audiences first set eyes on Chaplin, this image of Chaplin, on February 2, 1914, 100 years ago.

One of my earliest posts (reprinted below), reports that the site of Chaplin’s first scene, from his initial movie Making a Living (1914), was discovered by Kevin Dale to have been filmed in front of a residential porch adjacent to the Keystone Studio that is now the site of a drive-way for a Jack-In-The-Box restaurant.  Upon further study, I realized that this porch appeared in FIVE other Chaplin Keystone films, and that the same porch appeared in many other Keystone films as well.  Here, below, are these five other Chaplin films, followed by five more Keystone titles, all filmed on the porch of the home that once stood due north of the Keystone Studio, where Chaplin filmed his very first scene.

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10

[Reprint of original post]  Following the release of the Chaplin at Keystone DVD Collection, for which I prepared a bonus feature program, Kevin Dale contacted me wondering if Chaplin had filmed the opening scene from his inaugural film Making a Living in front of the home adjoining the Keystone Studio.  The Keystone Studio environs frequently appear in Keystone productions, and after close study I am convinced Kevin is correct.  Assuming they shot Making a Living in sequential order, this marks the very first scene of Chaplin’s entire career.  It also means that when the film opened on February 2, 1914, 100 years ago, it was through this scene that movie audiences were first introduced to young Mr. Chaplin.  The site is now a driveway to a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant, while the main filming stage remains in use today as a Public Storage warehouse.

View of the Keystone Studio. The large stage with the sign on the roof is still standing.

The large Keystone Studio stage with the sign on the roof is still standing. Marc Wanamaker – Bison Archives

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Comparing details likely confirms the location.  Notice the matching white trim of the square front porch steps, and the matching pair of palm trees.

The site is located approximately at 1710 Glendale Boulevard in Echo Park.  Bing Maps Bird’s Eye – © 2010 NAVTEQ, Pictometry Bird’s Eye © 2010 Pictometry International Corp., © 2010 Microsoft Corporation.

Chaplin at Keystone: Copyright (C) 2010 by Lobster Films for the Chaplin Keystone Project.

Young Mr. Chaplin stood here:

This entry was posted in Chaplin Tour, Charlie Chaplin, Keystone Studio and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Chaplin’s First Scene – a Very Busy Place to Film

  1. Kevin Dale says:

    Thanks for documenting this John! I had also noticed this porch in other
    films but I guess I was too busy (lazy!) to jot them down.
    Still enjoying all your posts! Retired from Citi now,ie outsourced-
    so I hope to get motivated on my silent film hobby again Did find some Fort Lee
    unknow film clips that were in Goofy Movie 10 (Pete Smith) and forwarded such to
    The Fort Lee film society,
    Hope you are well.
    Kevin Dale


  2. Lea S. says:

    It should be every Chaplin fan’s goal to one day eat at that Jack-In-The-Box.


  3. I’m looking forward to the day that Charlie’s and Fatty’s ghosts walk up and order Big Texas cheeseburgers. (Arbuckle will order three!)


  4. Kevin Dale says:

    ‘Porch’ also appears in
    – Fatty’s Spooning Days
    – Fatty’s Suitless Day



    • Thanks Kevin – I am confident that porch will keep showing up as more films become available on DVD. I imagine that home was owned by the studio – it was torn down years before the studio moved to its new location.


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  7. The only decent building on the lot! Also appears in pre-Chaplin films like Speed Kings 1913. This seems to be the bungalow used, in the early days, as the female dressing room, a section which was Mabel Normand’s own dressing room (no, it didn’t have a star on the door). Like Mabel’s studio dressing room on Fountain Avenue, it seems to have had a rear garden. Does this garden appear in Caught in A Cabaret, 1914? An important building indeed, as it was in here that Chaplin received his training in movie-making and how to hide out from the boss (among other things). Lucky old Charlie! Thanks for these blogs John…oh and the books.


    • Hi KG – there are garden scenes in Caught in a Cabaret with what could be the Beverly Hills Hotel peeking through the trees at back. The building is several stories tall and the details seem consistent, but I haven’t confirmed. The BH Hotel appears in Teddy at the Throttle. The garden behind Mabel’s dressing room would have been quite small, and perhaps sloped up hill.


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