86°F
weather icon Clear

Chaplin’s heritage seen in ‘Zhivago’

MGM Studios’ 1965 British-made “Doctor Zhivago” has an amazing tie to Boulder City. “Doctor Zhivago” is one of three Throwback Thursday movie recommendations for today.

A picturesque look at what was supposed to be the USSR, the movie was mostly filmed around the Aldeadávila Dam in Spain. So how does a two-part Russian Revolution drama, based on a 1957 New York Times’ best-selling novel, tie in to Boulder City? Two words: Geraldine Chaplin.

Geraldine Leigh Chaplin is the daughter of late legend (and my favorite actor) Charlie Chaplin. At 74, she resides in Santa Monica, California. Unlike other children of famous actors, Geraldine Chaplin held her own in major movies and usually without the public’s knowledge of who her famous dad was.

Geraldine Chaplin played Tonya Gromeko in “Doctor Zhivago,” starred in 1973’s “The Three Musketeers,” played Annie Oakley in “Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson,” owned the role of Hannah Chaplin (her grandmother) in the 1992 Oscar-nominated biopic about her dad “Chaplin” (which starred the remarkable Robert Downey Jr.) and revived the role of Maleva in “The Wolfman” remake. She also landed the role of Iris in this year’s “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” to name only a few of the hit movies she has worked on.

Geraldine Chaplin created characters, and it was her family background, as well as her vagabond ways, that seemed to help her diverse acting talent. She lived in England, Spain and France and traveled the world, including through the Southwest and into our backyard — Hoover Dam. Much like her famous father, Geraldine Chaplin’s ability to create characters who were worlds apart from one another went without question.

She is strong, adventurous and aware of who she is personally and professionally. She understands her lineage as a curse for her personal life and as an advantage in her professional one. Maybe that is why she played the role of Tonya so well in “Dr. Zhivago.”

Tonya was a smart and successful lawyer who married a man named Yuri Zhivago, who was studying to become a doctor. Tonya was supportive of Yuri and only loyal to him because it was her mother’s dying wish. Her suspicions about Yuri and an affair he was having prove to be true, although Tonya decides not to confront the issue for a very long time.

Yuri was in love with Lara, but his dedication to Tonya is unquestionable, as it was her family who offered Yuri opportunity and financial comfort growing up. As a writer, a doctor and a free thinker being watched by the Bolshevik party, Yuri’s life and role within Russia becomes paved with complex choices, including choosing between Tonya and Lara.

Geraldine Chaplin’s personal story ran parallel to her role as Tonya. Her family was under scrutiny from the U.S. government because her father, a forward-thinking writer (yes, even writing for silent films) was accused of being a Communist. Charlie Chaplin wrote and starred in a movie titled “Modern Times,” which didn’t help the rumors that he was a Communist sympathizer. This led to the actor being placed under FBI surveillance during the McCarthy era.

The U.S. government eventually revoked his re-entry permit into the country in 1952 as he traveled to England on vacation.

In 1978, the Chaplin family became involved in a failed extortion plot by kidnappers, who stole the body of the late Charlie Chaplin. Geraldine Chaplin negotiated with the kidnappers, who had also threatened her kids. The kidnappers were caught and the body recovered, but the drama for the Chaplin family continued for decades, like its very own “Doctor Zhivago” story, with Geraldine continuing to work to maintain the integrity of not only her name but the Chaplin legacy.

Geraldine Chaplin is known as a ballerina turned actress who made her own mark on the silver screen. She earned many hallmark roles within the American and Spanish film industries, which is why her roles in “Dr. Zhivago,” “Chaplin” and “Home for the Holidays” are my Throwback Thursday recommendations for today.

And, if you’re a Charlie Chaplin fan like me, “Modern Times” is worth a watch and “My Autobiography: Charles Chaplin” is worth the read.

Tanya Vece is an entertainment and music writer who resides and volunteers in Boulder City. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @hollywoodwriter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Never miss a chance to learn from others

As human beings, we are not infallible and are prone to making mistakes. While perfection is a great goal, no matter how hard we strive, it is nearly impossible to achieve.

Nation needs more understanding, fewer guns

With the Fourth of July fresh in our minds, the country is still charged with patriotic pride — and that’s great. We are a first-world country. That is something to be grateful for.

Education about economy critical for coming election

For the first time in 24 years, I felt like a stranger in Boulder City. In the Damboree parade, I carried a banner for a political candidate, along with two other city residents. The three of us have lived in Boulder City for 68 years collectively. We know a lot of people, yet we felt like outsiders, looking into a crowd of folks who were unfamiliar to us.

Letters to the Editor, July 18

Historic preservation planner vital to city’s vision

Transparency seems AWOL

Tuesday night’s selection of a new council member to fill the seat vacated by Kiernan McManus when he was elected mayor certainly raises some eyebrows.

Gravity always wins

Fall is just around the corner.

City played role early in DiCaprio’s career

I was on Facebook recently when Boulder City resident Samantha Foster shared a video showing 2016 Academy Award winning actor Leonard DiCaprio cruising through our town. The 1995 Japanese commercial, which can be found on YouTube.com, has DiCaprio toting a Honda Civic as he and co-star Yasuko Matsuyuki briefly explore Boulder City and the surrounding desert.

Letters to the Editor

Politics, holiday parades should be kept separate

City makes the Fourth fabulous

Today is a day of great significance in our nation. It’s America’s birthday, the celebration of our declaration of independence from England.

Boulder City’s spirit shines brightly

Words cannot express my gratitude for the involvement and support of many of you during the campaign and election process. I am honored to have been elected as your mayor, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve our great community.