Pin It

Blakeview: Ben Turpin 

Blake Pontchartrain: The New Orleans N.O. It All

In Tony Green's mural, Ben Turpin is recognizable for his cross eyes and paintbrush mustache. What you may not have recognized is that this silent comedy star is a New Orleans native. He was born in the Vieux Carre in 1869 and was named Bernard Turpin, he recalled in a 1930 Times-Picayune interview, adding that his family later moved to the 2000 block of Carondelet. His earliest performances were said to be in the window of his father's candy store, where he pulled taffy. In 1906, he was one of the performers at West End, billed as the "Happy Hooligan Gymnast" for his comedic pratfalls and stunts. He later moved to New York, where acting roles were more plentiful. Turpin became a second banana in Charlie Chaplin's early films and appeared in Mack Sennett's Keystone comedies. His eyes became his most recognizable feature and in a publicity stunt, he took out a $25,000 Lloyd's of London insurance policy, payable if his eyes ever uncrossed. He returned home in October 1928 and headlined a week of vaudeville performances at the Orpheum. In the 1930 Picayune interview, he bemoaned the popularity of talking pictures. "People got more action for their money," he said of silent films. Turpin died in 1940.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Pin It
Submit an event Jump to date

Latest in Blake Pontchartrain:

New Orleans Trivia

© 2018 Gambit
Powered by Foundation