Charlie Chaplin “Time Traveler Cell Phone” Debunked (Video)

Filed in Gather Entertainment News Channel by on November 1, 2010 0 Comments

Just in case anyone really thought that some time-traveling person decided the best use for his physics-defying device was to go back and attend the premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus while holding a cell phone, the “theory” has been debunked: The device in question is most likely an old-time hearing aid.

The whole brouhaha came about when filmmaker George Clark, clearly a man with plenty of time on his hands (both in the present and, most likely, in the future) decided that bonus footage on the DVD of Chaplin’s 1928 movie included footage of someone walking towards the film’s premiere while talking on a cell phone. (To some Chaplin fanatic of the future? To book reservations on his return flight to the year 2045?)

Now someone who’s sane over at LiveScience has stepped forward, pointing out that it’s probably what Chaplin’s ’20s contemporaries would recognize as an ear trumpet.

“As you can tell from these, old-fashioned mechanical or resonating hearing aids were not necessarily long and rounded,” LiveScience quotes Philip Skroska, an archivist at the Bernard Becker Medical Library of St. Louis’ Washington University, as saying. “Short, compact rectangular forms were not unusual.”

“I would expect this woman to be over 50 years old, so using a late 19th century design in 1928 would not be a stretch I think,” Skroska adds in an e-mail. “Now, I can’t really explain why the woman appears to be talking (other than yelling at the man who quickened his pace ahead of her). But I think it’s fair to say it would be a hasty judgment to dismiss the possibility that it was a hearing aid she was holding up to her ear.”


A cell phone of the gods! Oh, no, it’s an ear trumpet.





Next up: Proof positive that Charlie Chaplin was not better known as the dictatorial Adenoid Hynkel of Tomania.


(Post photo: Moviefone; ear trumpet photo: LiveScience.)

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