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[TIMELINE] 1916 (Toraichi Kono Works for Charles Chaplin)

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  • madchinaman
    Little Tramp still big in Japan Charlie Chaplin s ties with his Asian assistant throw new light on the legend, says Bruce Wallace Charlie Chaplin s ties with
    Message 1 of 1 , May 29, 2009
      Little Tramp still big in Japan
      Charlie Chaplin's ties with his Asian assistant throw new light on the legend, says Bruce Wallace
      Charlie Chaplin's ties with his Asian assistant throw new light on the legend, says Bruce Wallace
      http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_print.asp?art_id=16975&sid=7548507
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/asianamericanartistry/message/8495
      http://ednapurviance.blogspot.com/2007/05/toraichi-kono-living-in-silence.html
      YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrhqD0bwt0Y
      MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/toraichikono


      -

      Born March 3, 1885 / Died March 17, 1971
      *
      Chaplin's longtime assistant Toraichi Kono, a Japanese national who had settled in California. Kono went to work as the star's driver in 1916 and was, for the next 18 years
      *
      FBI . . . thought Kono became a Japanese spy after he left Chaplin's employ in the mid-1930s. In the run-up to Pearl Harbor, with Japanese-American tensions rising, they caught Kono meeting with Japanese naval officers looking for information about US naval deployments. He was arrested, released and then quickly interned after the attack.
      *
      Chaplin called Kono his secretary in the fleeting references he made to him in his 1964 autobiography. He also had minor roles - as a chauffeur - in three Chaplin films, although he was credited in just one: 1917's The Adventurer.
      *
      Kono, who died in 1971 . . . more than a gofer: He was Chaplin's gatekeeper.
      *
      Kono had such control over Chaplin's domestic arrangements that at one point in the mid-20s, all 17 male workers at the actor's estate were Japanese.
      *
      Kono, he says, who encouraged his boss to visit Japan for the first time in 1932 and cultivated a love in Chaplin for everything from Japanese literature to tempura.
      *
      Kono's second wife, who uncrated hundreds of photos and letters for him and gave approval for a biography that would unveil the driver- valet-fixer's importance in the Chaplin pantheon.
      *
      Kono's story - the driver entered Chaplin's orbit in 1916, by which time he had been living off and on in California for more than a dozen years - was the perfect catalyst for the conference. Unlike many Japanese who arrived in America fleeing poverty, Kono was a party guy running from the restraints of an arranged marriage and a wealthy but demanding father.
      *
      He was a pilot whose first wife would not let him fly, and he worked in a shop and as a houseboy before meeting Chaplin at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where the actor then lived. Their relationship did not end until 1934, when Kono complained about the spending habits of Goddard, Chaplin's third wife. Chaplin sided with his wife. Kono walked out. "It was a matter of face for him," Ono says.
      *
      Kono did take up Chaplin's offer to become the Japan representative of United Artists, which Chaplin co- owned, but quit after a year, muttering about sabotage from other Chaplin employees. He then slid into a social world that included Japanese naval spies who were scouting for information on US Navy battleships.
      *
      The FBI arrested Kono on espionage charges although the allegations were dropped in favor of attempts to deport him. But when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Kono was rearrested the same day.
      *
      He spent the war in internment camps, where he ran the projector on movie nights, just as he had done for the screenings at the Chaplin mansion
      *
      Kono fought further attempts to deport him after the war but by the 1950s had returned to his birthplace of Hiroshima.
      *
      Toraichi Kono first met Charlie Chaplin in 1916, two years after Chaplin had stumbled onto his "Tramp" persona (which would make him the most famous man in the world) in the film "Kid Auto Races At Venice." Kono was 31 years old and 16 years had passed since he first set foot in the United States from his native Japan.
      *
      Chaplin had taken up residence at the Los Angeles Athletic Club and purchased a new Locomobile Touring Car (it's the same car that Kono drives in "The Adventurer"). But Chaplin couldn't drive and needed to hire a chauffeur. Kono somehow learned of the position, and made his way to the Club for a job interview where Chaplin's then personal secretary Tom Harrington (Kono would eventually take Harrington's position) led him to Chaplin's bedroom.
      *
      Why Chaplin decided to hire Kono on the spot is unknown but film historian/Chaplin expert Stan Taffel has a theory. Taffel believes that since Chaplin was an immigrant (from England) who felt he owed his success to America, he may have felt a connection to Kono as a fellow immigrant, also eager to embrace the American Dream.
      *
      Kono was hired for thirty dollars a week (which was much more than most Asian immigrants were making at the time) and for the next eighteen years, Kono would be at Chaplin's side.
      *
      Kono, a native of Hiroshima, Japan, immigrated to the U.S. around 1906 to become a lawyer
      *
      "Here's a story about a Japanese immigrant who, during a time when Asians were relegated to second-class citizens and poorly treated, was closely involved with one of the first truly international motion picture stars and icons — Charlie Chaplin," said Kusatsu.
      *
      "We want to tell Kono's story and restore him to his place in the historical record of Hollywood," said Kusatsu. "Because of business relationships, Kono became suspect and a person of interest (to the government), which is really no different than what is going on today where words and actions fall into suspicion, especially if you appear to look like the enemy.

      "One has to be always aware that the rights and privileges we take for granted can be usurped and taken away. Kono's story is relevant when viewed in the light of today's reaction to security and threats from terrorists. There are more people and institutions today willing to be someone's advocate as opposed to over 60 years ago when public and government sentiment overwhelmed everything."
      *
      "At a time when Asian Pacific Americans were marginalized, here's this case of a Japanese man in a position of some power in Hollywood," Kusatsu said about what attracted him to Kono's story. "I thought it was important to reclaim a piece of history that's been all but forgotten."
      *
      Kono was born to a wealthy family in Hiroshima and quickly turned into an "undutiful" son, preferring to hang out with geishas, gambling and developing a rebellious spirit that members of upper class Japanese society frowned upon. He was sent to live with family in Seattle for a year in hopes that he would learn discipline and obedience, but when he returned to Japan, not much had changed.

      Shortly thereafter, Kono ran away from home and managed to both con his way onto a ship bound for America and convince U.S. immigration officials to let him into the country.

      By all accounts, Kono was a cunning and resourceful individual. Once in the United States, he hoped to be an aviator, but by now he was married and had a son. His wife forbade him from flying. Not wanting to become a farmer or gardener like many of the other Japanese immigrants, Kono learned to drive and became Charlie Chaplin's chauffeur.

      In time, Kono became Chaplin's valet and confidante. Kono was the man you went to see if you needed something from Charlie Chaplin. It didn't matter if you were the president or a fellow Hollywood celebrity, you had to pay respects to Kono if you wanted to get to Chaplin. Even Chaplin's own family had to make arrangements through Kono if they wanted an audience with Charlie. In this regard, Kono had a position of power and direct access to a world that was off-limits to most Asians living in America at the time.

      Kono left Chaplin's employment in the early 1930s because he couldn't get along with Chaplin's then-wife, actress Paulette Goddard. After this point, his story gets murkier but also more interesting. We know he spent a year working in the Tokyo office of United Artists, but after that things got stranger.

      Before the United States entered World War II, Kono was back in the United States working in some capacity for or with Itaru Tachibana, a Japanese naval officer who was later arrested and indicted for spying. Kono, himself, was detained for a period of time as a possible Japanese spy. After Pearl Harbor, Kono was interned at the camp in Kooskia, Idaho.
      *

      Timeline - 1916 - TORAICHI KONO HIRED BY CHARLES CHAPLIN

      In 1916, Toraichi Kono entered Charles Chaplin's life when he was recruiting for a secretary after having lived off and on in California for more than twelve years. He saw an article in a newspaper providing a job as a chauffeur that ended up to be with Chaplin. It has been reported that he was Chaplin's driver, personal secretary, a handy man, closest confidante, his caretaker and - according to most accounts, the person that Chaplin trusted more than anyone else.

      Chaplin hired Kono - allegedly - because the cane, one of the trademarks of the Little Tramp character Chaplin played, was made in Japan. There have been reports that Kono had such control over Chaplin's domestic arrangements that at one point in the mid-'20s, all 17 male workers at the actor's estate were Japanese. It has been reported that there has been dozens of letters intended for Chaplin but addressed to Kono as evidence that was the man you had to go through to get to the star.

      He was born in 1888 to a wealthy family in Hirohima and preferred associating with geishas, gambling and a rebellious spirit. He was sent to live with family members in Seattle for a year in the hopes that he would learn discipline and obedience, upon his return - it was observed that the efforts were unsuccessful. Shorty thereafter, he moved/ran away to the US at the age of 17 or 18 (1906) with the intentions to become a lawyer. Unlike many Japanese who arrived in America fleeing poverty, Kono was a party guy running from the restraints of an arranged marriage and a wealthy but demanding father - even though he was a man of the Japanese Meiji period with strict moral disciplines. He was a pilot whose first wife wouldn't let him fly, and he worked in a shop and as a houseboy before meeting Chaplin at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where the actor then lived.

      After 18 years Kono and Chaplin decided to go their separate ways after some disputes that involved Paulette Goddard, Chaplin's 3rd wife. Afterwards, Chaplin arranged for him to get work in the movie business, but Kono never found a way to stay there. He opened up a law office in Little Tokyo at Los Angeles and was known among the neighbors just as a lawyer Kono, not by the long-term relationship with a famous man.

      Kono did take up Chaplin's offer to become the Japan representative - chief manager - of United Artists Japan (which Chaplin co-owned) but quit after a year. He entered a social world that included Japanese naval spies who were scouting for information on U.S. Navy battleships. The FBI arrested Kono on espionage charges, though the allegations were dropped in favor of attempts to deport him. Kono fought further attempts to deport him after the war but by the 1950s had returned to his birthplace of Hiroshima.

      When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Kono was rearrested the same day. The FBI thought Kono became a Japanese spy after he left Chaplin's employ in the mid-1930s. In the run-up to Pearl Harbor, with Japanese-American tensions rising, they caught Kono meeting with Japanese naval officers looking for information about U.S. naval deployments. He was arrested, released and then quickly interned after the attack. He spent the war in internment camp at Kooskia Idaho, where he ran the projector on movie nights, just as he had done for the screenings at the Chaplin mansion. He was not released until 1948.

      Kono was fond of Chaplin, while not so with Chaplin's second very young wife Rita Grey, who was an avid spender of money and enjoyed parties with marine officers. Kono tried to support Chaplin in many ways. When Chaplin was going through the divorce with his first wife Mildred Harris, his project "Kid" which was in the process of being edited, was in danger of being held down by the court as a property. Both ended up fleeing, Kono driving the car with $60 and Chaplin himself with $70 in his pocket respectively all the way down to Salt Lake in Utah.
      Kono took also care of private matters. He was supposed to have camouflaged the proceedings with Rita Grey and Chaplin, to support a smooth process for their wedding.

      He passed away in Hiroshima in 1971.

      -


      Charlie Chaplin traveled to Japan just four times in his long life and narrowly missed being assassinated by a gang of rogue naval officers on one visit.

      But the Japanese loved Charlie and his Little Tramp. Still do. Chaplin's films and Tramp character carved a lasting place in Japanese culture, and new evidence of a little-discussed relationship with his longtime Japanese assistant is offering fresh opportunities to explore one of the most poked and perused lives of the 20th century.

      The barely mined Japanese connection is what drew many of the world's top Chaplinologists as well as a few hundred fans and the late comedian's daughter Josephine to the first conference on Chaplin in Japan.

      In chilly Kyoto one weekend last month, participants swapped business cards and traded Chaplin anecdotes, examining such questions as how much influence Kabuki theater had on his art and what moved prewar Japanese cinema audiences to embrace a movie character originally dubbed "Strange Person" and, later, "Professor Alcohol."

      Kathryn Millard, an Australian shooting Here Comes Charlie, a feature documentary on Chaplin's influence around the world, says: "I'm searching for an explanation of why Chaplin's Tramp has had such resonance in so many cultures for so long and why he keeps popping up everywhere.

      "It's not just about the appeal of silent film stars. It's that the Tramp seems infinitely adaptable."

      But the honey that drew the specialists to Kyoto was the recent emergence of documents and photographs from the estate of Chaplin's longtime assistant Toraichi Kono, a Japanese national who had settled in California. Kono went to work as the star's driver in 1916 and was, for the next 18 years if you believe his most enthusiastic Japanese supporters, one of the comedian's closest confidants.

      The FBI had another view. They thought Kono became a Japanese spy after he left Chaplin's employ in the mid-1930s. In the run-up to Pearl Harbor, with Japanese-American tensions rising, they caught Kono meeting with Japanese naval officers looking for information about US naval deployments. He was arrested, released and then quickly interned after the attack.

      That hazy, curious life story has somehow remained below Hollywood's radar. The question, as phrased by conference organizer Hiroyuki Ono, the leading authority on Kono and who is writing his biography, is: "Why did the right-hand man of the world's greatest comedian disappear from history?"

      Until Ono started asking questions, the truth about what Kono did for his movie star boss - and perhaps for the Japanese navy - had disappeared into the mists. Chaplin called Kono his secretary in the fleeting references he made to him in his 1964 autobiography. He also had minor roles - as a chauffeur - in three Chaplin films, although he was credited in just one: 1917's The Adventurer.

      But Ono sees Kono, who died in 1971, as much more than a gofer: He was Chaplin's gatekeeper. Although Ono says the relationship between the men was "never warm," he cites dozens of letters intended for Chaplin but addressed to Kono as evidence the Japanese assistant was the man you had to go through to get to the star.

      Ono argues that Kono had such control over Chaplin's domestic arrangements that at one point in the mid-20s, all 17 male workers at the actor's estate were Japanese. And it was Kono, he says, who encouraged his boss to visit Japan for the first time in 1932 and cultivated a love in Chaplin for everything from Japanese literature to tempura.

      Ono's fascination with Chaplin began 22 years ago when, at nine, he saw The Great Dictator on Japanese TV. As an adult, he has visited all the Chaplin haunts: from the south London of his impoverished childhood to the road in California where the Tramp walks off into the unknown arm in arm with Paulette Goddard's gamin at the end of Modern Times.

      An energetic storyteller dripping with enthusiasm, Ono is what the Japanese would kindly call an otaku - a Chaplin geek.

      In 2004, he met Kono's second wife, who uncrated hundreds of photos and letters for him and gave approval for a biography that would unveil the driver- valet-fixer's importance in the Chaplin pantheon. Ono took news of his find to a Chaplin conference in London last July, where the assembled Chaplin scholars excitedly encouraged him to host his own conference in Japan.

      In 1931, six months after the world premiere of City Lights, a Kabuki company adapted it in a piece called Komori no Yasusan, with a lead actor in a Chaplin mustache and the boxing scene converted into a sumo wrestling match.

      Chaplin made his first visit to Japan a year later, shepherded by Kono. His autobiography describes it as a trip bristling with intimidation and violence.

      The visit's defining moment came while Chaplin watched a sumo match with Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai's son, Ken, on the afternoon of May 15. Six young naval officers broke into the leader's official residence in Tokyo and murdered the prime minister, hoping to spark a revolution that would reinstate an emperor-based government.

      Their plot dissolved. But later court- martial testimony into what the Japanese call the May 15 Incident suggested the officers had debated killing Chaplin, on the dubious premise it would provoke the United States into war with Japan.

      But the conference in Kyoto skipped over any discussion of the political violence of those times. Chaplin was a leading critic of fascism, militarism and imperialism - extremist forces that were all swelling in strength in Japan during that visit and two more in 1936.

      Yet there was no discussion on what effect Japanese nationalism might have had on him, his politics or films. And it was noted but never deeply discussed that Japan's wartime government banned The Great Dictator, Chaplin's film skewering Adolf Hitler. It was not shown in Japan until 1960.

      Ono said the conference ignored Chaplin's collision with nationalist extremism because the near assassination of the world's greatest comedian is well known in Japan - a debatable statement in a country whose school texts are notoriously skimpy on the history of that dark period.

      Instead the participants stuck safely to a mandate of uncovering evidence of Chaplin's Japanophilia. They learned he once devoured 30 shrimp tempura in one sitting. And they heard from Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, a leading TV personality who met Chaplin in New York in 1972, that the actor told her of his love for Japan, even bursting into tears at the sight of her in a kimono.

      Kono's story - the driver entered Chaplin's orbit in 1916, by which time he had been living off and on in California for more than a dozen years - was the perfect catalyst for the conference. Unlike many Japanese who arrived in America fleeing poverty, Kono was a party guy running from the restraints of an arranged marriage and a wealthy but demanding father.

      He was a pilot whose first wife would not let him fly, and he worked in a shop and as a houseboy before meeting Chaplin at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where the actor then lived. Their relationship did not end until 1934, when Kono complained about the spending habits of Goddard, Chaplin's third wife. Chaplin sided with his wife. Kono walked out. "It was a matter of face for him," Ono says.

      Kono did take up Chaplin's offer to become the Japan representative of United Artists, which Chaplin co- owned, but quit after a year, muttering about sabotage from other Chaplin employees. He then slid into a social world that included Japanese naval spies who were scouting for information on US Navy battleships.

      The FBI arrested Kono on espionage charges although the allegations were dropped in favor of attempts to deport him. But when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Kono was rearrested the same day.

      He spent the war in internment camps, where he ran the projector on movie nights, just as he had done for the screenings at the Chaplin mansion, says Clyde Kusatsu, a Los Angeles actor and filmmaker who is finishing a shooting script for a documentary on Kono.

      He was not released until 1948.

      Kono's defenders say he never was a spy, though he did sign a confession while in custody. Ono contends that Kono sought only to be a bridge between Japan and America. "While the Japanese navy may have used Kono as a tool, we do not believe he betrayed the United States," Ono says.

      Kono fought further attempts to deport him after the war but by the 1950s had returned to his birthplace of Hiroshima.

      He was living there in 1961 when Chaplin came to Japan for the last time.

      On that trip, Chaplin went to Hiroshima, where he visited the Peace Memorial Park built below the spot where the atomic bomb was detonated. Kono lived in an apartment facing the park.

      The two never met.


      ====================


      Little Tramp's big life
      By Susan King, Times Staff Writer
      http://articles.latimes.com/2003/aug/12/entertainment/et-king12


      Before he began work on the comprehensive new documentary "Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin," filmmaker, critic and author Richard Schickel was given an edict by the Chaplin family: Don't do a whitewash job on the Little Tramp.

      "We want him to be seen kind of warts and all," Schickel recalls daughter Josephine Chaplin telling him. "We are no longer interested, if we ever were, in presenting this portrait of a serene and perfect individual who happened to be a genius."

      Making the documentary, which opens Friday for a one-week Oscar-qualifying engagement at the Laemmle Monica 4-Plex in Santa Monica, was greatly liberating for Schickel. "We could do whatever we wanted. I think it makes the film more moving. You get a sense of the various mistakes he made with his marriages, his politics."

      "Charlie," which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, has played at more than 40 festivals around the world and will be released next year by Warner Home Video on VHS and DVD along with a second wave of restored Chaplin classics such as "City Lights" and "The Kid."

      Narrated by Sydney Pollack, the two-hour plus documentary overflows with clips from "The Kid," "A Woman of Paris" (Schickel's favorite), "The Gold Rush," "The Circus," "City Lights," "Modern Times," "The Great Dictator," "Monsieur Verdoux," "Limelight," "A King in New York" and various shorts such as "Soldier Arms," "Easy Street" and "One A.M."

      There are also rare home movies and passionate and often moving interviews with Chaplin's children Sydney, Geraldine and Michael; directors Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Milos Forman and Sir Richard Attenborough; and performers Marcel Marceau, Johnny Depp and Bill Irwin.

      Schickel, who has been the film critic at Time for 31 years and is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times Book Review, believes that his film is the first good documentary produced on Chaplin. " 'The Gentleman Tramp,' I think is very feeble and lacking in clips," he says, relaxing in the small office he shares with his 13-year-old terrier, Preston. "There was an A&E 'Biography' a few years ago, but that was the same thing. It was thin in clip materials.

      "I don't want to toot my own horn, but I don't know of any biography films of a single individual that are more complete or richer in materials than it draws on than this film. It's long. We made it longer than we originally intended by 35 minutes. It was a huge life."

      And though he does show Chaplin warts and all, he doesn't really dwell on his personal problems. "It seems to me, as it always does when I am writing a book or making a film, that the only reason we are entitled to be interested in these people is their work. What difference does it make that they have many girlfriends or many vices or are drunks or homosexuals, all of those issues that preoccupy celebrity life these days, especially when you are talking about a figure like Chaplin?"

      After all, he says, Chaplin's greatest days were 70 and 80 years ago. "That would be dredging up all kinds of antique gossip about this guy."

      Despite Chaplin's penchant for young girls, paternity suits and political woes, Schickel says, "his life came out rather well. He had a wife he simply adored. They had all of these children whom he had some difficulties with, but the same difficulties everyone has -- he wants her to go to college, she wants to go to ballet school, etc. Whatever those difficulties were, as time has gone on, and you talk to the children now, they are extremely affectionate about the old guy. He could be a difficult dad, but he was also an amusing dad."

      The rise of celebrity

      Chaplin, along with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, was the first international celebrity. "And he had to deal with all that ad hoc," Schickel says. "If you see the scenes where he was going to London for the first time [since his success] and totally mobbed -- which is also what happened with Fairbanks and Pickford -- he is in actual physical danger in those scenes.

      "So he is having to deal with celebrity at a new and more intense level and much more than anybody had to deal with before. There was not yet in place the whole system, which includes security and press agentry and management of celebrity. He went around town without a lot of bodyguards. I think considering what he was dealing with, he did very well and that enlists my sympathy."

      The documentary also touches upon the seemingly endless discussion as to who was the superior silent comedian: Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Schickel believes any comparisons between the two are false ones.

      "They are two great comedians that were roughly contemporary and roughly guys who made brilliant silent comedies in the 1920s, but that is just a coincidence. I don't know why you have to make a choice between Keaton and Chaplin because in all other respects they are different."

      Schickel says that he had some "wonderful stuff" from Allen about the comparison he wasn't able to get into the film. "He took the position, which I thought was kind of interesting, that comedians who do go for a bit of sentiment, if they fail it is an embarrassing failure. Chaplin has failure of that kind. But when they succeed, which Chaplin often does, then it is wonderful because there is some kind of simple identification with the audience. Woody was reluctant to make a choice, but he said, 'I think Chaplin is the greater of the two and largely because he is not afraid of being sentimental.' "

      Unlike Keaton and the other great silent clown Harold Lloyd, Chaplin didn't employ gag writers; often the cast and crew would sit around and wait and wait for Chaplin to find the gag. "That is why the great Chaplin films are so great," says Schickel, "because he took all the time he needed to make them as perfect as he could make them."

      His genius, says Schickel, was essentially kinetic. "There was nothing physically he could not do and he could do it quickly. He would move through any kind of environment with his wonderful characterization emerging."

      But when Chaplin began doing talkies with 1940's "The Great Dictator," he had problems with dialogue -- he wouldn't shut up.

      "There is stuff in his later films that is funny, but he doesn't know when to stop. The speech at the end of 'Great Dictator' would be fine if it was five minutes shorter. You can say the same thing about 'Monsieur Verdoux,' which is the most problematic of his films. It was an attempt at a black comedy by a guy who has no blackness. He's not Bunuel. I think his flaw is excessive talk and some of the talk is too gaseous. Some of the stuff in 'Limelight,' where he is talking with Claire Bloom, he talks and talks and talks."

      Still, he has a new found respect for Chaplin's later films. "I had not really liked them and I began to like them," he says. "There are places where you want to push the fast forward button, but there is a great spirit, certainly in 'The Great Dictator' -- and 'Limelight,' there is great sadness and sweetness in the movie."

      "Charlie" attempts to explain why Chaplin retired the Little Tramp after "The Great Dictator."

      "We invent big reasons why the Tramp disappeared," Schickel says. "He couldn't live in the modern world. It was too oppressive. There were no open roads for him to go down at the end, which is all true. But by then Chaplin was a man in his 50s. He was thicker, not moving quite the same way. I am not sure he was capable of doing the Tramp even if there had been a market for the Tramp."

      And, truth be told, Chaplin's British accent didn't sound like it should be coming out of the proletarian Tramp. "His voice was somewhat off-putting," says Schickel. "It sounded upper class and educated. I remember Sydney [Chaplin] said to me that, 'Every time we went to England, the closer the boat got, the more English his accent became.' "


      ============


      Toraichi Kono - Living in Silence
      http://ednapurviance.blogspot.com/2007/05/toraichi-kono-living-in-silence.html


      "Living in Silence: Toraichi Kono" The untold story of the man who was personal valet and confidant to Charlie Chaplin, before facing charges of espionage on the eve of World War II. - Director, Philip Chung: Producers, Clyde Kusatsu, Timothy Lounibos and Nancy Yuen

      Seeing some photos of Toraichi Kono in the Hill collection, I decided to place together some links about the documentary 'Living in Silence' about Kono (Chaplin's valet). Kono worked with Chaplin through the Mutual Film period to Modern Times.

      Edna Purviance knew Kono, as did Edna's nephew Morgan Hill. It was Paulette Goddard who put an end to Kono's work with Chaplin. You can learn more at these links and by visiting Philip Chung's MySpace page.


      ===


      Toraichi Kono
      http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0465231/


      Mini Biography
      Born in 1888 and raised in Hiroshima, Japan, Toraichi Kono immigrated to the U.S. around 1906 to study law and become a lawyer.

      In 1916, when Charles Chaplin was recruiting a trusty for his secretary, Kono applied for the position and immediately obtained it. Chaplin hired the Japanese allegedly because the cane, one of the trademarks of the Little Tramp character Chaplin played, was made in Japan.

      During the next 18 years, Kono was Chaplin's right-hand butler both in his public and private life. As a result, strongly impressed and admired by Kono's trustful job performances, Chaplin visited Japan 4 times in his lifetime (1932, twice in 1936, 1961).

      However, their close relationship with trust ended in 1934 when Kono reproached Paulette Goddard, Chaplin's 3rd wife, for being a spendthrift. It made Chaplin angry and made him dismiss Kono after 18 years as his butler.

      As Kono, 1-year older than his boss, was thinking of returning home to Japan, Chaplin appointed him as the chief manager of the United Artists Japan. According to Kono himself, Chaplin visited him one day at his house and appeared to be eager to have him back, but Kono declined. Not fitting in the new position as well as the old one, Kono came back to Los Angeles and worked as a lawyer. Toraichi Kono died in his home Hiroshima, Japan in 1971 at age 83.


      Transportation Department:
      City Lights (1931) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka City Lights: A Comedy Romance in Pantomime (USA: copyright title)
      The Circus (1928) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      The Gold Rush (1925) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      The Pilgrim (1923) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      Pay Day (1922/I) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      The Idle Class (1921) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka Vanity Fair (USA)
      The Kid (1921) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      A Day's Pleasure (1919) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka A Ford Story (USA)
      Sunnyside (1919) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      Shoulder Arms (1918) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      A Dog's Life (1918) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      The Adventurer (1917/I) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      The Immigrant (1917) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka A Modern Columbus (USA)
      ... aka Broke (USA: 8mm release title (short version))
      ... aka Hello U.S.A. (USA)
      ... aka The New World (USA)
      The Cure (1917) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka The Water Cure (USA)
      Easy Street (1917) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      The Rink (1916) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka Rolling Around (USA)
      ... aka Waiter (USA)
      Behind the Screen (1916) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka The Pride of Hollywood (USA)
      The Pawnshop (1916) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka At the Sign of the Dollar (USA)
      ... aka High and Low Finance (USA)
      The Count (1916) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka Almost a Gentleman (USA)
      One A.M. (1916) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka Solo (USA)
      The Vagabond (1916) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka Gipsy Life (USA)
      The Fireman (1916) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka A Gallant Fireman (USA)
      ... aka The Fiery Circle (USA)
      The Floorwalker (1916) (driver: Mr. Chaplin) (uncredited)
      ... aka Shop (USA)
      ... aka The Store

      Actor:
      The Circus (1928) (uncredited) .... Man in circus audience
      A Day's Pleasure (1919) (uncredited) .... Chauffeur in street scene
      ... aka A Ford Story (USA)
      The Adventurer (1917/I) (uncredited) .... Chauffeur

      Self:
      "ETV tokushû" .... Himself (1 episode, 2008)
      ... aka "ETV Special" (Japan: literal English title)
      - Chaplin's Japanese Secretary (2008) TV episode .... Himself


      =


      Kono Meets Chaplin
      http://the12s.com/konoblog/page/2/+Keith+Kamisugi,+The+Silent+Treatment+of+Toraichi+Kono+.&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us


      Toraichi Kono first met Charlie Chaplin in 1916, two years after Chaplin had stumbled onto his "Tramp" persona (which would make him the most famous man in the world) in the film "Kid Auto Races At Venice." Kono was 31 years old and 16 years had passed since he first set foot in the United States from his native Japan.

      Chaplin had taken up residence at the Los Angeles Athletic Club and purchased a new Locomobile Touring Car (it's the same car that Kono drives in "The Adventurer"). But Chaplin couldn't drive and needed to hire a chauffeur. Kono somehow learned of the position, and made his way to the Club for a job interview where Chaplin's then personal secretary Tom Harrington (Kono would eventually take Harrington's position) led him to Chaplin's bedroom.

      Here's Kono's first impression of Chaplin in his own words: "I found a nice-looking, black-haired young chap in bed, eating his breakfast. When Mr. Harrington told him what I wanted, Charlie stopped chewing long enough to ask me if I could drive a car. I assured him I could. `Well, I can't,' he said and grinned. `You're smart.' He then turned to Mr. Harrington and said, "take him out for a try,' and went on eating. We drove around Los Angeles, which wasn't very crowded, for a few minutes, and Mr. Harrington informed me I was hired."

      Why Chaplin decided to hire Kono on the spot is unknown but film historian/Chaplin expert Stan Taffel has a theory. Taffel believes that since Chaplin was an immigrant (from England) who felt he owed his success to America, he may have felt a connection to Kono as a fellow immigrant, also eager to embrace the American Dream.

      Whatever the reason, Kono was hired for thirty dollars a week (which was much more than most Asian immigrants were making at the time) and for the next eighteen years, Kono would be at Chaplin's side.

      +

      Clyde Kusatsu and Toraichi Kono

      Honolulu-born actor Clyde Kusatsu asked Bruddah Keet recently if he knew about Toraichi Kono and Charlie Chaplin. Toraichi who?

      For almost two decades, said Kusatsu, Kono was Charlie Chaplin's right-hand man, serving not only as his personal secretary and confidant, but the gatekeeper to one of the best-known faces in the world at that time. Getting through to Chaplin, by even the most powerful men and women in Hollywood, meant going through this aide.

      Kono, a native of Hiroshima, Japan, immigrated to the U.S. around 1906 to become a lawyer. Chaplin hired Kono in 1916, beginning a relationship that would make Kono an influential figure in a society with widespread personal and institutional discrimination against people of Asian descent.

      "Here's a story about a Japanese immigrant who, during a time when Asians were relegated to second-class citizens and poorly treated, was closely involved with one of the first truly international motion picture stars and icons — Charlie Chaplin," said Kusatsu.

      Kusatsu told me that Kono would assume a large degree of control over Chaplin's domestic affairs and even play uncredited roles in numerous Chaplin films.

      Kono would leave Chaplin in 1934 after conflicts with Paulette Goddard, Chaplin's third wife. Kono would then work briefly as the Japan representative of United Artists, co-owned by Chaplin.
      Shortly afterward, the FBI would arrest Kono for alleged espionage, release him and then intern him after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The precise details are unclear.

      The big mystery is how Kono's role as the confidant of the world's greatest entertainer at the time could have slipped so easily in obscurity.

      Kusatsu, along with three other Asian American filmmakers — Philip W. Chung, Tim Lounibos and Nancy W. Yuen — are seeking answers to that question as they research and produce a documentary film titled "Toraichi Kono: Living in Silence" - a project funded in part from a grant by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP).

      Kusatsu, well-known for his numerous television and film roles, heard about Kono from director Richard Attenborough, who was working on a movie in the early '90s about Chaplin that would star Robert Downey, Jr.

      "(Attenborough) enthusiastically related how Kono was Charlie's personal secretary and confidant who helped run his household and life," said Kusatsu. "Which was ironic then considering how Kono had for the most part disappeared from the story in the final version of the film."

      Kusatsu and Chung one day had breakfast together, the subject of Kono came up, and both quickly became intrigued at the prospect of making a documentary. Actor Lounibos joined the project shortly after. The trio later brought on Yuen, a doctoral candidate in the UCLA Department of Sociology.

      "We want to tell Kono's story and restore him to his place in the historical record of Hollywood," said Kusatsu. "Because of business relationships, Kono became suspect and a person of interest (to the government), which is really no different than what is going on today where words and actions fall into suspicion, especially if you appear to look like the enemy.

      "One has to be always aware that the rights and privileges we take for granted can be usurped and taken away. Kono's story is relevant when viewed in the light of today's reaction to security and threats from terrorists. There are more people and institutions today willing to be someone's advocate as opposed to over 60 years ago when public and government sentiment overwhelmed everything."

      The filmmakers say they are in the middle of the project, but have a long way to go. "We're in constant research mode and shooting subjects as we find them," said Kusatsu.

      +

      Clyde Kusatsu and Toraichi Kono

      Honolulu-born actor Clyde Kusatsu asked Bruddah Keet recently if he knew about Toraichi Kono and Charlie Chaplin. Toraichi who?

      For almost two decades, said Kusatsu, Kono was Charlie Chaplin's right-hand man, serving not only as his personal secretary and confidant, but the gatekeeper to one of the best-known faces in the world at that time. Getting through to Chaplin, by even the most powerful men and women in Hollywood, meant going through this aide.

      Kono, a native of Hiroshima, Japan, immigrated to the U.S. around 1906 to become a lawyer. Chaplin hired Kono in 1916, beginning a relationship that would make Kono an influential figure in a society with widespread personal and institutional discrimination against people of Asian descent.

      "Here's a story about a Japanese immigrant who, during a time when Asians were relegated to second-class citizens and poorly treated, was closely involved with one of the first truly international motion picture stars and icons — Charlie Chaplin," said Kusatsu.

      Kusatsu told me that Kono would assume a large degree of control over Chaplin's domestic affairs and even play uncredited roles in numerous Chaplin films.

      Kono would leave Chaplin in 1934 after conflicts with Paulette Goddard, Chaplin's third wife. Kono would then work briefly as the Japan representative of United Artists, co-owned by Chaplin.
      Shortly afterward, the FBI would arrest Kono for alleged espionage, release him and then intern him after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The precise details are unclear.

      The big mystery is how Kono's role as the confidant of the world's greatest entertainer at the time could have slipped so easily in obscurity.

      Kusatsu, along with three other Asian American filmmakers — Philip W. Chung, Tim Lounibos and Nancy W. Yuen — are seeking answers to that question as they research and produce a documentary film titled "Toraichi Kono: Living in Silence" - a project funded in part from a grant by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP).

      Kusatsu, well-known for his numerous television and film roles, heard about Kono from director Richard Attenborough, who was working on a movie in the early '90s about Chaplin that would star Robert Downey, Jr.

      "(Attenborough) enthusiastically related how Kono was Charlie's personal secretary and confidant who helped run his household and life," said Kusatsu. "Which was ironic then considering how Kono had for the most part disappeared from the story in the final version of the film."

      Kusatsu and Chung one day had breakfast together, the subject of Kono came up, and both quickly became intrigued at the prospect of making a documentary. Actor Lounibos joined the project shortly after. The trio later brought on Yuen, a doctoral candidate in the UCLA Department of Sociology.

      "We want to tell Kono's story and restore him to his place in the historical record of Hollywood," said Kusatsu. "Because of business relationships, Kono became suspect and a person of interest (to the government), which is really no different than what is going on today where words and actions fall into suspicion, especially if you appear to look like the enemy.

      "One has to be always aware that the rights and privileges we take for granted can be usurped and taken away. Kono's story is relevant when viewed in the light of today's reaction to security and threats from terrorists. There are more people and institutions today willing to be someone's advocate as opposed to over 60 years ago when public and government sentiment overwhelmed everything."

      The filmmakers say they are in the middle of the project, but have a long way to go. "We're in constant research mode and shooting subjects as we find them," said Kusatsu.

      +

      Mr Toraichi Kono and the Tramp, By Bruce Wallace
      Kono, an aide to Chaplin for years, was forgotten until crates of his papers came to light.

      Charlie Chaplin travelled to Japan just four times in his long life and only narrowly missed being assassinated by a gang of rogue naval officers on one of those visits. But the Japanese loved Charlie and his Tramp. Still do. Chaplin's films and Tramp character carved a lasting place in Japanese culture, and new evidence of a little-discussed relationship with his longtime Japanese assistant is offering fresh opportunities to explore one of the most poked and perused lives of the 20th century. The barely mined Japanese connection is what drew many of the world's top Chaplinologists as well as a few hundred fans and the late comedian's daughter Josephine to the first conference on Chaplin in Japan. Convened in an unheated former elementary school in chilly Kyoto one weekend last month, they swapped business cards and traded Chaplin anecdotes, examining such questions as how much influence Kabuki theatre had on his art and what moved pre-war Japanese movie audiences to embrace a movie character they originally dubbed Strange Person and, later, Professor Alcohol. "I'm searching for an explanation of why Chaplin's Tramp has had such resonance in so many cultures for so long and why he keeps popping up everywhere," says Kathryn Millard, an Australian shooting "Here Comes Charlie," a feature documentary on Chaplin's influence around the world. "It's not just about the appeal of silent film stars. It's that the Tramp seems infinitely adaptable."

      But the honey that drew the specialists to Kyoto was the recent emergence of documents and photographs from the estate of Chaplin's longtime assistant Toraichi Kono, a Japanese national who had settled in California. Kono went to work as the star's driver in 1916 and was, for the next 18 years if you believe his most enthusiastic Japanese supporters, one of the comedian's closest confidants. The FBI thought Kono became a Japanese spy after he left Chaplin's employ. That hazy, curious life story has somehow remained below Hollywood's radar. The question, as phrased by conference organiser Hiroyuki Ono, the leading authority on Kono and who is writing his biography, is: "Why did the right-hand man of the world's greatest comedian disappear from history?"

      Until Ono started asking questions, the truth about what Kono did for his movie star boss – and perhaps for the Japanese navy – had disappeared into the mists. Chaplin called Kono his secretary in the fleeting references he made to him in his 1964 autobiography. He also had minor roles – as a chauffeur – in three Chaplin films, though he was credited in just one.

      But Ono sees Kono, who died in 1971 and whose ashes are buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery, as much more than a gofer: He was Chaplin's gatekeeper. Although Ono says the relationship between the men was "never warm," he cites dozens of letters intended for Chaplin but addressed to Kono as evidence the Japanese assistant was the man you had to go through to get to the star.

      +

      The Chaplin-Kono Conference I, Japan

      The Chaplin Society of Japan held the Chaplin-Kono Conference in Kyoto in Japan from the 25th to 27th of March 2006. The aim of the Chaplin-Kono Conference was to reassess Charlie Chaplin and his secretary Kono Totaichi. Kono worked for Chaplin from 1916 to 1934 and was Chaplin's right hand man. But little is known about him. However a lot of new materials were found recently and Kono's biography is becoming clear.

      There was also an exhibition of the huge amount of collection by Higashijima Tomie's large collection, wich included Chaplin's portrait with his autograph for Kono, Chaplin's train ticket, Virginia Cherrill's portrait with her autograph for Kono, more than 300 precious photos such as Chaplin and Al Jolson or Kono and Laurel and Hardy or Ida Lupino, Kono's own srapbook with a lot of precious newspaper clippings from those days, more than 500 pieces of letters to Kono and Chaplin and so on.

      Ms Higashijima Tomie, Kono's second wife, talked about her memories of Kono. This conference and exhibition offered new information on Chaplin.

      March 25th, 2006:

      Professor Frank Scheide "The influence of English Music Hall on the Nonverbal Expression of Charles Spencer Chaplin".
      Cecilia Ceaciarelli from The Cineteca di Bologna talked about Chaplin's unmade project.

      Davide Pozzi from The Cineteca di Bolognawill talked about restoration of Chaplin's films with a screening of Keystone films.
      Professor Kathryn Millard talked about Chaplin's imitators and will screen clips from her new documentary on Chaplin's imitators.
      March 26th, 2006:

      Professor Nakagaki Kotaro "Chaplin and American culture."
      Professor Hattori Yuki "The History of Japan's acceptance of Chaplin."

      Ono Hiroyuki talked about "Chaplin and Japan "Kono Toraichi."
      Clyde Kusatsu talked about Kono and screened clips from his new documentary on Kono: Chaplin's driver.

      Professor Constance B. Kuriyama talked about Kono and von Ulm.
      Higashijima Tomie talked about her husband Kono.

      The actress Kuroyanagi Tomie talked about Chaplin, whom she met in New York in 1972.

      Josephine Chaplin talked about her father, interviewed by Ono Hiroyuki.

      +

      The Search for Toraichi Kono By Philip W. Chung

      I first came across Toraichi Kono by chance. Several years ago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was showing a retrospective of Charlie Chaplin's films. I happened to catch Chaplin's 1917 silent short, The Adventurer, and noticed that the character of the Tramp's chauffeur in the movie was played by a handsome, young Asian man. Upon further research, I learned that the role had actually been played by Chaplin's real-life chauffeur, a Japanese American man named Toraichi Kono.

      For more than 17 years, Kono worked with Chaplin, first as his driver, and later as his personal valet. Kono was the man who held the keys to Chaplin's kingdom. (At the time, Chaplin was the most famous movie star in the world.) He was Chaplin's closest confidante, his caretaker and according to most accounts, the man Chaplin trusted more than anyone else.

      I remembered that, years ago, I had met Chaplin's daughter, the great actress Geraldine Chaplin, and she had told me about her father's Japanese valet and their decades long friendship. Then two years ago, I was having lunch with Clyde Kusatsu, the Japanese American actor best known for his roles in films like Farewell to Manzanar and for playing Margaret Cho's father on All-American Girl. I casually mentioned what I knew about Kono to Clyde and he immediately responded to it.

      "At a time when Asian Pacific Americans were marginalized, here's this case of a Japanese man in a position of some power in Hollywood," Kusatsu said about what attracted him to Kono's story. "I thought it was important to reclaim a piece of history that's been all but forgotten."

      Clyde recruited two other colleagues — Warner Brothers on-line producer Jason James and Tim Lounibos, one of my co-Artistic Directors at Lodestone Theatre Ensemble — and we decided to produce a documentary film about the life of Toraichi Kono with the notion that we would later develop the story into a possible feature-length narrative film or play.

      For almost two years we've been slowly, but surely, researching and collecting information about Kono.

      Kono was born to a wealthy family in Hiroshima and quickly turned into an "undutiful" son, preferring to hang out with geishas, gambling and developing a rebellious spirit that members of upper class Japanese society frowned upon. He was sent to live with family in Seattle for a year in hopes that he would learn discipline and obedience, but when he returned to Japan, not much had changed.

      Shortly thereafter, Kono ran away from home and managed to both con his way onto a ship bound for America and convince U.S. immigration officials to let him into the country.

      By all accounts, Kono was a cunning and resourceful individual. Once in the United States, he hoped to be an aviator, but by now he was married and had a son. His wife forbade him from flying. Not wanting to become a farmer or gardener like many of the other Japanese immigrants, Kono learned to drive and became Charlie Chaplin's chauffeur.

      In time, Kono became Chaplin's valet and confidante. Kono was the man you went to see if you needed something from Charlie Chaplin. It didn't matter if you were the president or a fellow Hollywood celebrity, you had to pay respects to Kono if you wanted to get to Chaplin. Even Chaplin's own family had to make arrangements through Kono if they wanted an audience with Charlie. In this regard, Kono had a position of power and direct access to a world that was off-limits to most Asians living in America at the time.

      Kono left Chaplin's employment in the early 1930s because he couldn't get along with Chaplin's then-wife, actress Paulette Goddard. After this point, his story gets murkier but also more interesting. We know he spent a year working in the Tokyo office of United Artists, but after that things got stranger.

      Before the United States entered World War II, Kono was back in the United States working in some capacity for or with Itaru Tachibana, a Japanese naval officer who was later arrested and indicted for spying. Kono, himself, was detained for a period of time as a possible Japanese spy. After Pearl Harbor, Kono was interned at the camp in Kooskia, Idaho.

      So far, the information we've found about Kono's activities during this period and beyond has been vague and raises more questions than answers.

      Recently, we received word from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP) that they would award us a grant to start work on our documentary film.

      +

      Timeline - 1916 - TORAICHI KONO HIRED BY CHARLES CHAPLIN

      In 1916, Toraichi Kono entered Charles Chaplin's life when he was recruiting for a secretary after having lived off and on in California for more than twelve years. He saw an article in a newspaper providing a job as a chauffeur that ended up to be with Chaplin. It has been reported that he was Chaplin's driver, personal secretary, a handy man, closest confidante, his caretaker and - according to most accounts, the person that Chaplin trusted more than anyone else.

      Chaplin hired Kono - allegedly - because the cane, one of the trademarks of the Little Tramp character Chaplin played, was made in Japan. There have been reports that Kono had such control over Chaplin's domestic arrangements that at one point in the mid-'20s, all 17 male workers at the actor's estate were Japanese. It has been reported that there has been dozens of letters intended for Chaplin but addressed to Kono as evidence that was the man you had to go through to get to the star.

      He was born in 1888 to a wealthy family in Hirohima and preferred associating with geishas, gambling and a rebellious spirit. He was sent to live with family members in Seattle for a year in the hopes that he would learn discipline and obedience, upon his return - it was observed that the efforts were unsuccessful. Shorty thereafter, he moved/ran away to the US at the age of 17 or 18 (1906) with the intentions to become a lawyer. Unlike many Japanese who arrived in America fleeing poverty, Kono was a party guy running from the restraints of an arranged marriage and a wealthy but demanding father - even though he was a man of the Japanese Meiji period with strict moral disciplines. He was a pilot whose first wife wouldn't let him fly, and he worked in a shop and as a houseboy before meeting Chaplin at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where the actor then lived.

      After 18 years Kono and Chaplin decided to go their separate ways after some disputes that involved Paulette Goddard, Chaplin's 3rd wife. Afterwards, Chaplin arranged for him to get work in the movie business, but Kono never found a way to stay there. He opened up a law office in Little Tokyo at Los Angeles and was known among the neighbors just as a lawyer Kono, not by the long-term relationship with a famous man.

      Kono did take up Chaplin's offer to become the Japan representative - chief manager - of United Artists Japan (which Chaplin co-owned) but quit after a year. He entered a social world that included Japanese naval spies who were scouting for information on U.S. Navy battleships. The FBI arrested Kono on espionage charges, though the allegations were dropped in favor of attempts to deport him. Kono fought further attempts to deport him after the war but by the 1950s had returned to his birthplace of Hiroshima.

      When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Kono was rearrested the same day. The FBI thought Kono became a Japanese spy after he left Chaplin's employ in the mid-1930s. In the run-up to Pearl Harbor, with Japanese-American tensions rising, they caught Kono meeting with Japanese naval officers looking for information about U.S. naval deployments. He was arrested, released and then quickly interned after the attack. He spent the war in internment camp at Kooskia Idaho, where he ran the projector on movie nights, just as he had done for the screenings at the Chaplin mansion. He was not released until 1948.

      Kono was fond of Chaplin, while not so with Chaplin's second very young wife Rita Grey, who was an avid spender of money and enjoyed parties with marine officers. Kono tried to support Chaplin in many ways. When Chaplin was going through the divorce with his first wife Mildred Harris, his project "Kid" which was in the process of being edited, was in danger of being held down by the court as a property. Both ended up fleeing, Kono driving the car with $60 and Chaplin himself with $70 in his pocket respectively all the way down to Salt Lake in Utah.
      Kono took also care of private matters. He was supposed to have camouflaged the proceedings with Rita Grey and Chaplin, to support a smooth process for their wedding.

      He passed away in Hiroshima in 1971.

      Ince/Hearst Situation

      In the "Oneida Incident" - Toraichi Kono is widely thought to know the truth (he was the chief source of information for Gerith von Ulm's biography on Chaplin). He was supposedly on the dock in San Diego waiting to pick up Chaplin (despite Chaplin's commentary to the contrary - described in his autobiography), who was scheduled to meet United Artists executives the next day. He was present when Ince was brought ashore when he saw Ince bleeding from a bullet wound to the head from William Randolph Hearst.

      One story behind the shooting is that he had mistaken Ince for Chaplin in the dark, whom he thought have had many romantic trysts with Marion Davis (Hearst's mistress). It has been noted that Marion had "supposedly" written naïve and highly indiscreet love letters that was sent to Chaplin through Kono - as told in von Ulm's book. Within her book, this "person" was identified as "Maisie" in her book for a wide variety of reasons. One such letter, Kono recalled, bore the imprint of her lipstick-smeared mouth - the lover's code for "sealed with a kiss.").

      This incident became part of Hollywood legend.

      +

      Time Magazine: "Secret Agent"

      One of the neatest little spy stories ever uncovered broke into print last week in Los Angeles. Arrested by FBI men were two dapper little Japanese and Al Blake. U.S. citizen. Al turned out to be no spy but a hero: he had pulled off an amateur job of counter-espionage that would have made a professional spy turn green with envy.

      A yeoman in the U.S. Navy during World War I, 50-year-old Al Blake had a job as "Keeno, King of the Robots" in a Los Angeles store window. Standing beside a male dummy, he defied spectators to make him laugh or to tell which figure was human. Some four months ago a Japanese named Toraichi Kono ran into Al Blake. Well-known in Hollywood. Kono was once Charlie Chaplin's valet and private secretary, now has a small business.

      Kono asked Al Blake if he would get in touch with yeomen aboard the U.S.S. Pennsylvania, try to worm some Navy secrets out of them. Blake agreed. Then he went to see Naval Intelligence officers, reported his conversation with Kono. They told him to go ahead, work with the Japanese, see what he could unearth.

      Enter, at this point, a Japanese bigshot: Itaru Tatibana, 39, a lieutenant commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy. Registered on alien lists as a language student at the University of Southern California, Tatibana put up the money to pay for Al Blake's snooping. Altogether, Al got several thousand dollars from the Japanese, turned it all over to U.S. officials. He made two trips to Hawaii. The Navy handed him some obsolete data, reports of firing practice on the U.S.S. Phoenix last February, several ancient code books. These Al passed on to his employers.

      One afternoon last fortnight Navy Intelligence decided its case was complete. FBI men went out. picked up the suspects separately. In Tatibana's rooms they found a truckload of assorted information about the U.S. Navy. Arrested on a charge of "conspiracy to obtain national defense information . . . for . . . a foreign power," Commander Tatibana was promptly sprung when Japanese Consul Kenji Nakauchi posted $50,000 bail. Kono could not raise his $25,000 bail, stayed in jail.

      Navy men said they had been watching the two Japanese almost a year, would hale them before a Federal grand jury this week on a charge of espionage (maximum peacetime penalty: 20 years). As for Al Blake. "King of the Robots," he was congratulated by the Navy for successfully keeping a straight face.
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