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Einstein Says Chaplin is Half Jewish: His Grandfather Was a Jew

March 12, 1931
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Professor Einstein, who spent several days with Charlie Chaplin at his home in Hollywood, told the J.T.A. here before he sailed for New York on his return to Europe that Chaplin is a half-Jew, his grandfather having been a Jew.

The legend that Charlie Chaplin was a Jew was widely held at one time. Israel Zangwill accepted him as such in some of his essays on the Jewish question. The French antisemitic novelists, the brothers Thardieu, have published a book on Chaplin based on the belief that he is a Jew, describing his mannerisms as typical expressions of Jewish characteristics, and making much of his habit of always keeping his hat on.

There does not seem to be any ground, however, for the belief, and nothing is known in London, where he was born and spent his early life, which would bear it out. Mr. Hannen Sweffer, the well known London theatrical and film critic, said in one of his recent books that when a report in an American paper was brought to Chaplin’s notice, in which he was spoken of as a Jew, and he was asked to deny the assertion, he replied that there were many Jews in America who might like to think he was. Konrad Bercovici, the well known Jewish novelist of gypsy life, who is a friend of Chaplin’s, describing a visit he paid to Chaplin’s home in Hollywood recently, revealed that Chaplin’s is a gypsy on his mother’s side. When I was born, he quotes him as saying, all my mother’s relatives arrived in caravan waggons from all over. It was a complete give-away for mother, who had kept her origin secret.

A few years ago, when Jackie Coogan, the boy film actor, who played with Chaplin in “The Kid”, and who is of Irish Catholic origin, was visiting Vienna the antisemites there similarly organised demonstrations against him, in the mistaken belief that he was Jewish.

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