Thursday, October 25, 2012


This novel, which was never published or even intended for publication, was written by Chaplin as a preliminary to the 1952 film, Limelight. It took over three years to complete & more than thirty pages are dedicated to the past of the main characters, Calvero & Terry (nine pages are given to the romance between Calvero and Eva Morton, who would become one of his five wives, but is never mentioned in the film).

Page from the novel. Source: Limelight: Chaplin Project N. 1
Page from the novel describing Terry's childhood. Source: Limelight: Chaplin Project N. 1

Early versions of the Limelight screenplay reveal that Chaplin originally wanted to integrate the backstory of the characters into the film. Actresses were hired to play Terry as a child, as well as her mother and sister, Louise. Chaplin later abandoned this idea.

Footlights was the first novel Chaplin ever attempted to write.

Young Terry and her mother in a deleted scene from Limelight


  1. I know this is a long shot, but do you happen to know where one might find a copy of Footlights, or if Chaplin's Limelight screenplay was ever published? Did you scan those pages personally? I am so in love with this story, thank you for posting this! Any information you have would be greatly appreciated. -Francesca

    1. Hi Francesca,
      "Footlights" was never published. There are novelizations of the film available, although not in English (I don't believe Chaplin's novel was used for these publications, they are just book versions of the film). The scans on this page are from the book "Limelight: Chaplin Project N. 1" which was published by the Cineteca di Bologna. This book is an excellent resource and includes several scans of the novel from the Chaplin Archives, unfortunately it has become very hard to find. There are also extracts from the novel in the "extras" on both the MK2 & Image Entertainment DVDs of "Limelight" as well as David Robinson's bio. I hope this was helpful.

    2. Thank you so much! For such a prolific man, certain things are extremely hard to find, indeed. You've been very helpful, thanks again. :)