Estimated at $300-3500 by Appraisal & Estate Sale Specialists (22/18/15% buyer’s premium) of Fullerton, it took $10,500 (£7660) from an online bidder.
The approx 3ft 6in long x 14in wide (1.07m x 35.5cm) broadside for the Empress Theatre in San Diego announces the main act from Fred Karno’s London comedy company called The Wow Wows – featuring the little-known Charles Chaplin (1889-1977) and a certain Stanley Jefferson, later Stan Laurel of Ollie & Hardy fame.
The Wow Wows was a 29-minute show, performed in three scenes, that debuted in New York in 1910. Chaplin’s character was told he would be initiated in a secret society, when in fact, they were getting revenge on him. This lot also included three extremely rare programmes with Chaplin listed in all three in various parts.
Goodbye to vaudeville
Author AJ Marriot, the authority on the early vaudeville careers of both Chaplin and Stan Laurel, provided some information to the auction house.
He said: “This poster and programmes are from one of his last-ever appearances in vaudeville.
“They are made even rarer by the inclusion of another member of the cast, named Stanley Jefferson. Less than two years later, Jefferson changed his name to Stan Laurel. So, to find these two giants of film comedy learning their craft, together, on the vaudeville stage, is what makes these items so special.”
British-born Karno was an actor and comedian in his own right before Chaplin joined his company at the age of 19.
They toured together for three years until 1913 when Keystone Cops director and producer Mack Sennett requested Chaplin (who he incorrectly called Chaffin) as a replacement for the lead cop. His first starring role would be in The Tramp of 1915.