Charlie Chaplin premieres film for RSBC

Front cover of 1952 Limelight programme

In January 2017, RSBC merged with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). Although we are now called RSBC, there may be some references to RLSB in the following article.

On 15 October 1952, film star Charlie Chaplin premiered his film Limelight in honour of RLSB, to help raise funds for the organisation. A clip from the film is at the top of this page.

Chaplin directed and produced the film, and also starred in the lead role of Calvero alongside top actress of the day Claire Bloom, who played the part of ballet dancer Terry.

Both Chaplin and Bloom signed a programme for the premiere, and this item is a treasured piece among RLSB’s archives. Chaplin also visited RLSB’s school, where he met some of the children and was presented with a gift.

In the programme, RLSB chairman C. Stanley Green thanked the film star for his fundraising efforts. He wrote:

“The World Premiere which is taking place tonight is a remarkable event, unique in the history of the Royal London Society for Teaching and Training the Blind.

“The Royal Family has shown an interest in the Society for more than one hundred years. Her Majesty Queen Mary is our gracious patron and we are privileged that Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret has consented to grace this occasion with her presence.

“The Council of the Society acknowledges with gratitude the generous action of Mr Charles Chaplin, whom we welcome tonight, in offering to the Society the World Premiere of the film Limelight.

“The work of our Society, which meets an urgent need, independently of the National Health Services, is financed entirely from voluntary sources and in recent years has had the greatest difficulty in meeting rapidly rising costs with a diminishing charitable income. The present deficiency on revenue is £23,000. The care of 700 sightless children and adults is a responsibility willingly undertaken by the Society. It meets a need so urgent and manifest that the necessity to maintain the services can hardly be stressed enough. There is also a pressing demand on the Society for the modernisation and extension of its present facilities to help more blind children than we can possibly provide for at the present time.

“Mr Chaplin’s generousity, together with that of every patron in the theatre tonight, will result in the financial burden being substantially lessened.

“As Chairman of the Society I must express appreciation of the great effort made by the Premiere Committee and extend to them the thanks of the Society for the time so willingly devoated to the cause of the sightless.”

Some images from the Limelight programme

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