Jun 25 2012

The 1914 Vanderbilt Holbrook Cup, Charlie Chaplin and a Historic Film

One month before the 1914 Vanderbilt Cup Race in Santa Monica, the city of Venice, California held  a series of  Vanderbilt Jr. Cup Races  for "pushmobiles" and homemade one- and two-cylinder cars.  A trophy or souvenir from these  races was sold on Ebay last night.


Howard Kroplick

The winning bid for the 4 inch trophy was $217.

The copy on the trophy reads:" Vanderbilt Holbrook Cup Class-C 1st Venice Jan. 10-14 Won By." The Mayor of Venice was C.W. Holbrook and the "pushmobile" races were held on January 10, 1914.

Although these races were hardly newsworthy, the recording of the races made film history. The six-minute film made for Mack Sennett's Keystone Film Company was the first time the public saw Charlie Chaplin in his "Little Tramp" character and an audience's reaction to him.

When the film was made, Chaplin was only 24 years old. Asked by Sennett to design his own costume and comedy makeup, Chaplin remembered; "Sennett had expected me to much older man, I added a small moustache, which I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expression."

The premise for the film was simple; a director and cameraman are trying to film the races and are prevented by a little tramp. The actual director for the film Henry Lehrman (right) played the director and Frank D. Williams (left) was the camerman.

Check out how close the pushmobiles came close to Chaplin throughout the film.

Chaplin and the "pushmobile" ramp in the background.

The significance of this film was described in the book "Chaplin-Genius of the Cinema" by Jeffrey Vance with a commentary from Walter Kerr.


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