Charlie Chaplin in Angkor

by Darryl Leon Collins

The mega star of silent movies visited Angkor in April 1936, later inspiring many Cambodian comics to adapt the 'Charlot' character as 'Sak-Lo'.

Publication: Sarika Review, vol 5, pp 14-23

Published: October 2002

Pages: 9

Languages : English, Khmer

In April 1936, Charlie Chaplin (with the actress Paulette Goddard, whom he had secretly married earlier) visited Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat. The visit of the ancient Khmer temples was organized by leading archeologist Victor Goloubew.

Before continuing on to Vietnam, Charlie, who with Goddard had just acquired worldwide fame thanks to the movie Modern Times, marveled about the peoples and landscapes of Indochina. Contrary to many Western celebrities attracted to the region for big game hunting, he stressed he had never shot one single bullet in his life and intended to keep it that way.

The author further discusses the impact of the famous silent movie comedian on local artists, recalling how several Cambodian comedians emulated the 'Charlot' (French name) character.

The following images are from The Charlie Chaplin Image Bank:


(Photos 1,2,3, with Paulette Goddard; photo 4, with Victor Goloubew)

Read also the account by Philip J. Coggan.

Angkor Database input: in his Journal, archaeologist and architect Henri Marchal, who had received Chaplin and Paulette Godard in Angkor, recalls that the famous actor and movie director confided to thim that he was "glad that the French, with their flair for art and preservation of ancient monuments, are taking a leading part in the preservation of Angkor."

Tags: cinema, celebrities, Khmer culture

About the Author

Portrait of Darryl  Leon  Collins

Darryl Leon Collins

An art teacher and curator in Australia, with a Master of Arts from the Australian University in Canberra and two years at the Department of Fine Arts and Languages Studies at Sophia University (Tokyo), Darryl Collins (1947, Adelaide) has been living and writing in Cambodia for three decades.

In 2004, he started the Collection Inventory Project as a Cultural consultant for the National Museum of Cambodia. In 2002, he authored with Helen Grant Ross and Hok Sokol the book "Building Cambodia: New Khmer Architecture (1953-1970)", which remains a reference for architects and architecture lovers.

Darryl Collins also actively contributed in the restoration of several emblematic houses around Cambodia, including the Hanchey House in Siem Reap and the 'Chinese House' in Phnom Penh. He is currently completing a vast study on Khmer traditional wooden houses, to be released Feb. 28, 2022 (to preorder the book: +855 126 86 767).