17 Minutes with My Father
Number of pages
Charlie Chaplin was famous as an actor, musician, composer, and film director, but he was best known as a comedian, a clown who made the world laugh. In her memoir, 17 Minutes with My Father, Jane Chaplin describes her father, the man famous for his charm and warmth, who in his role as a husband and father was cold, distant, and severe.
In 17 Minutes with My Father, Jane Chaplin remembers her father and describes their adjacent, yet utterly discrete, lives. As a structure for her memoir, she uses the only 17 minutes she ever shared with her father, drawing from that brief encounter important life lessons that inform on the Chaplin dichotomy—an uproarious comedian and a detached father.
Jane, nervous about an audition, dared herself to approach Chaplin for advice. He talked to her for 17 minutes, but at the age of 17, that was the longest conversation she had ever had with him. They had never before shared a private moment. That brief time was her longest and most intimate connection with her father and shaped her understanding of him as a father and a public figure.
In her frank and open memoir, Jane describes the coldness of the Chaplin home and how she and her seven siblings were affected by the sense of isolation they experienced at the family estate in Switzerland. The only way in which Charlie’s relationship to his family was like his onscreen self was that his presence was all-encompassing and impossible to ignore. His wife Oona, daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill, was the only connection between Charlie and his children.
Jane Chaplin : Jane Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin and granddaughter of American playwright Eugene O’Neill, is a film producer and columnist who lives in Colombia.