Charlie Chaplin’s stolen body found
On this day in 1978 Charlie Chaplin’s stolen body found
The coffin containing the body of Charlie Chaplin – missing since his grave was robbed eleven weeks previously was found
The legendary silent movie star’s body had been stolen by a pair hapless , stupid grave robbers
The kidnapping of Charlie Chaplin’s coffin
Having suffered from strokes during the 1960s and ’70s, a frail and wheelchair-bound Chaplin spent his final years living with his fourth wife, Oona, by Lake Geneva in Switzerland.
Then, on Christmas Day 1977, he died in his sleep at his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey, aged 88. Chaplin was laid to rest a few days later in the local cemetery, but sadly his eternal rest lasted only a couple of months.
On 2 March 1978, police phoned the Chaplin mansion to inform 51-year-old Oona that there had been a burglary in the middle of the night and that her husband’s coffin was missing.
It was dug up from a field about a mile away from the Chaplin home in Corsier near Lausanne, Switzerland.
Swiss police eventually arrested two men – a 24 year old Pole and a 38 year old Bulgarian and they have confessed to the heinous crime.
Superintendent Gabriel Cettou, the head of the Geneva police, said the two men would be charged with attempted extortion and disturbing the peace of the dead.
They were traced after police kept a watch on 200 phone kiosks and tapped the Chaplins’ phone after the family received ransom demands of £400,000 for return of the body after it went missing in March
Roman Wardas, a 24-year-old Pole, and Gantscho Ganev, a 38-year-old Bulgarian, were convicted in December 1978 of stealing the coffin and trying to extort £400,000 from the Chaplin family.
Wardas was sentenced to four-and-a-half-years’ hard labour for masterminding the bizarre plot to hold Charlie Chaplin’s body to ransom. He said he was inspired by an article about a similar case in an Italian newspaper and believed it was the answer to his financial difficulties.
His Bulgarian accomplice, described as a “muscle man” with a limited sense of responsibility, was given a suspended 18-month sentence.
The Kid,Charlie Chaplin fight scene
No doubt the great man himself would have found this highly amusing and the story could have come straight out of one of his iconic silent movies.
.Sir Charles’ 51-year-old widow, Lady Oona Chaplin, refused to pay up saying:
“Charlie would have thought it ridiculous.”
In further calls the kidnappers made threats to harm her two youngest children.
The family kept silent about the ransom demands and various rumours circulated about the missing coffin. One Hollywood report suggested it had been dug up because Sir Charles was a Jew buried in a gentile cemetery.
Lady Chaplin, daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill inherited about £12m after the death of her husband.
The couple and their eight children had been living in Lausanne since 1952.
A spokesman for the Chaplins said:
“The family is very happy and relieved that this ordeal is over.”
And the final word goes to the great man himself.
” A day without laughter is a day wasted “
Police (1916) – Charlie Chaplin (HD)