Harry Crocker papers

Special Collections
Margaret Herrick Library © 2013

Descriptive Summary

Title: Harry Crocker papers
Date (inclusive): 1895-1952
Collection number: 71
Creator: Crocker, Harry
Extent: 2 linear feet of papers. 8 artworks.
Repository: Margaret Herrick Library. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Languages: English

Important Information for Users of the Collection


Available by appointment only.

Publication rights

Property rights to the physical object belong to the Margaret Herrick Library. Researchers are responsible for obtaining all necessary rights, licenses, or permissions from the appropriate companies or individuals before quoting from or publishing materials obtained from the library.

Preferred Citation

Harry Crocker papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Charles Zook Sutton, 1969


Harry Crocker was an American publicist, actor, and assistant director. He was the son of oil tycoon Henry J. Crocker, grandson of transcontinental railway builder Charles Crocker, and nephew of William W. Crocker, head of the Crocker Bank in San Francisco. Crocker came to Hollywood in 1924 and struck up a friendship with Marion Davies. He had earlier been involved in a number of stage productions and was later to act in four feature films in 1927. Through Davies, Crocker met Charlie Chaplin, and the two men became good friends. Crocker was Chaplin's assistant director on THE CIRCUS (1928) and also appeared in the film as Rex, the tightrope walker. Apparently a rift developed between Crocker and Chaplin during the making of CITY LIGHTS (1931), which Crocker helped write. Crocker joined the Hearst organization in 1928 and wrote a syndicated column titled "Behind the Makeup" in the late 1930s. He also served as the assistant to the publisher of the "Los Angeles Examiner" for a number of years. His friendship with Chaplin was rekindled in the 1940s and he was involved with Chaplin in some capacity on MONSIEUR VERDOUX (1947) and traveled with the comedian on his 1952 trip to England, during which Chaplin was barred from re-entry into the United States. Crocker worked in London as a correspondent for the International News Service. He retired from the Examiner in 1951.

Collection Scope and Content Summary

The Harry Crocker papers span the years 1895-circa 1957 and encompass 2 linear feet of manuscripts and 8 artworks. The bulk of the collection consists of several unpublished manuscripts by Crocker, including the biography "Charlie Chaplin: Man And Mime, I Read You Every Morning" (a behind-the-scenes look at Crocker's "Los Angeles Examiner" column "Behind the Makeup"), "Small Talk of Great People" (reminiscences of conversations with major film and literary figures of the 1920s and 1930s, including Irving Berlin, Chaplin, Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst, and Mary Pickford), and his autobiography, "That's Hollywood," which includes material on Hearst and Davies. The correspondence contains rare items, notably photostats of letters and documents relating to Chaplin's mother from the 1890s, and a 1931 letter from actor George Carney reminiscing about Chaplin's early stage career in England. The highlight is a 1931 letter from Sigmund Freud in which Freud analyzes the origins of Chaplin's tramp characterization. A scrapbook contains clippings regarding Joan Barry's paternity suit against Chaplin and Chaplin's marriage to Oona O'Neill. There is an autograph book, as well as artwork and folk art related to Charlie Chaplin.


Arranged in the following series: 1. Subject files; 2. Writings; 3. Oversize; 4. Scrapbooks; 5. Graphic Arts

Indexing Terms

Crocker, Harry , 1893-1958--Archives
assistant directors