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The film also debunks a legend Chaplin created about himself, Roberts said. The former vaudeville headliner said he created the mustached “Tramp” character on the fly _ with awkward fitting clothes, a cane and a hat _ just before making “Mabel’s Strange Predicament.”

“This is nonsense,” Roberts said, arguing that Chaplin produced “A Thief Catcher” almost simultaneously with a natural flow into the same character. “Even though he’s dressed as a cop, the rest of the character is still there _ the mustache, the walk, the mannerism. … This is a character he’d been doing for quite a while.”

Other comedians claimed to have used the character before Chaplin. But that hardly matters now.

“It’s a moot point,” Roberts said. “Whoever created the character is meaningless. Chaplin still did it better than anyone else.”

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Online:

Slapsticon Comedy Film Festival: http://www.slapsticon.org/