Fun Fact Friday brings you, our audience, facts and information sparking discussions related to “inclusion” as it intersects with disability, culture, and society.
This Week’s Fact:
While Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin may serve as one of the most well-known actors who is deaf (known for her role as Sarah Norman in Randa Haines’ Children of a Lesser God (1986) and more recently as the recurring character Melody Bledsoe in the TV series Switched at Birth, (2011-2017)) deaf actors participated in the film industry at least a century beforehand, albeit not in starring roles. One of those individuals was Granville Redmond, who was a landscape artist and “became a permanent fixture in San Francisco art circles” (Schuchman 23). His “’art of mimicry’” in a film caught the attention of silent film star Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin invited Redmond to Hollywood, assuring him that it was not necessary to speak. Redmond first appeared in A Dog’s Life, (1918) and was in other Chaplin films as well, including The Kid (1921) and City Lights (1931) (23-25). Chaplin even “gave Redmond space to paint at the Chaplin production facilities, where Redmond produced some works for films, others for himself, and some that Chaplin purchased” (24).
– Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member
Schuchman, John S. Hollywood Speaks: Deafness and the Film Entertainment Industry. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.
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