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The Proto-al Franken?

This passage from Liaquat Ahamed's Lords of Finance (which I'm just now reading) really amused me. It almost felt like satire--except that it apparently happened:

That weekend Churchill had the star of The Gold Rush, Charlie Chaplin, as a guest at Chartwell, his country hoouse in Kent--they had met in Hollywood when Churchill was visiting the United States in October 1929 at the time of the crash. Over dinner Chaplin opened the conversation by saying, "You made a great mistake when you went back to the gold standard at the wrong parity of exchange in 1925." Churchill [who'd been finance minister at the time] was somewhat taken aback. As the film star proceeded to hold forth at length about the subject with a great deal of knowledge, Churchill, who hated to be reminded of past mistakes, sank into a morose silence, a mood broken only when the comedian picked up two rolls of bread, put two forks in them and did the famous dance from the movie.

Who knew?

Update: A knowledgeable colleague e-mails with more:

He was effectively banned from the United States from around 1950 because of his left-of-Keynes, not-quite-Marx political/economic/social views. He only returned to America for a brief visit near the end of his life in the 1970s. Truly a shameful episode in American history.

By the way, his sad-clown movies "Monsieur Verdoux" and "Limelight" are far underseen and underappreciated. They are as good as his famous Little Tramp pictures. But, clearly, the comedian who kept the world's chin up through the Depression was made despondent by World War II, the Holocaust and his own unjust expulsion from America. You can see his sadness in the films.

OK. So who else knew?

--Noam Scheiber