Chaplin museum planned in Switzerland
CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland — Memories of Charlie Chaplin will live on above the shores of Lake Geneva, where new generations will get a chance to be introduced to one of the silver screen's greatest comic geniuses.
Chaplin spent his last 25 years on his 35-acre estate along the “Swiss Riviera,” where he could surround himself with family and walk into town or drive in the countryside without drawing unwanted attention. He died at the 18th-century Swiss mansion on Christmas Day in 1977.
Now, after 14 years of planning, Chaplin's family, investors and supporters are ready to convert the run-down Manoir de Ban and its property into a museum complex.
Chaplin co-founded United Artists in 1919 and helped define the silent era with films such as “City Lights” in 1931 and “Modern Times” in 1936. He came to Switzerland when he was in his 60s, fleeing accusations of being a communist sympathizer during the McCarthy-era witch hunt in the United States. In his peaceful new setting, he raised eight children from his last marriage, wrote an autobiography, made films, composed music and entertained other artists and celebrities.
Three of his children — Michael, Eugene and Victoria — and their business partners in the nearly $69 million project said they are on track to open the museum early in 2016.
Eugene Chaplin, who was born at the mansion, lived there until six years ago.
“I used to play football, soccer, on the lawn here with my dad. It was a very, very nice family life, it was a big family house,” he recalled. “Of course, he was born in England, did his films in the States, but he found his happiness in Switzerland.”
The mansion, with its verdant lawn and serene view of the lake and the Alps, is stripped bare and will be refurbished as it was when Chaplin lived there. It has gardens, service buildings and a pool ,and plans call for a large new building with recreated sets from Chaplin's movies.
“It was a dream house for growing up,” said Laura Chaplin, a granddaughter and Swiss artist. “This house represents everything that he did for us. ... We're thrilled. We've waited a long time for this museum and now it's finally taking off.”
Nearby Montreux has a huge archive of Chaplin photographs, manuscripts and other documents from the Victorian-era London of his youth and from pre-World War II Hollywood, where he found success with his “Tramp” character.
Chaplin and his last wife, Oona Chaplin, the daughter of the great tragic playwright Eugene O'Neill, lived most of their married life at the Swiss mansion. She also died there, at age 66, in 1991.
A Luxembourg investment firm, Genii Capital, purchased the property in 2008 with the aim of creating the museum. The Swiss canton (state) of Vaud provided a 10 million-franc loan for the museum, which is being developed with corporate help including French ski resort developer Compagnie des Alpes and Vevey-based food and drink giant Nestle.
“He is still very well-known and beloved around the world,” said Yves Durand, the museum's director. “His soul, his spirit, is still here ... so people will meet him, people will encounter him, people will hear his voice, will see his movies, will hear his music.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Buildings in West Bank settlement torn down by order of Israel’s Supreme Court
- Debris on French island possibly that of missing Malaysia Airlines flight
- 2013 death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar confirmed
- Exiled Yemen leader orders anti-rebel fighters to merge with army to battle Houthis
- U.N. projects world’s population to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, 11.2 billion by end of century
- Afghan intelligence: Taliban leader Mullah Omar dead 2 years
- U.S., Turkey plan for ‘safe zone’ free of ISIS in northern Syria
- Turkey to stick with air offensive in ISIS battle
- Gunbattle kills 21 at Afghan wedding party
- Saudis’ deadly airstrikes resume in Yemen
- Libyans on death sentences for Gadhafi’s son, others: ‘Who cares?’