Close friends with famed movie star Charlie Chaplin and a favored employee of William Randolph Hearst, Harry Crocker moved in exclusive cultural and political circles that gave him access to a dazzling array of notable figures from the past century. Among the jewels in the Crocker collection in Special Collections at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library are these two exceptional Chaplin rarities.
First is a copy of a 1931 letter from psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud studying the basis of Chaplin’s screen persona as the Little Tramp, “an exceptionally simple and transparent case” for reasons you can read here in this English translation. Second is an original drawing of Chaplin from Crocker’s autograph album, given by the family of Mrs. Charles Zook Sutton in 2007. Popular bandleader and cartoonist Xavier Cugat, a major force in bringing Latin culture to American popular music and a fixture in MGM musicals, added this colorful depiction of Chaplin to the album which also includes drawings and notes from other famous friends like Mae West, Greta Garbo, Douglas Fairbanks, Joan Crawford and Errol Flynn.