Imitation is the greatest form of flattery… Hollywood must be good at flattery. This is the story of Billy Ritchie who donned the bowler hat and the toothbrush moustache as Chaplin’s shadow.

Billy Ritchie worked alongside Chaplin on the English Music Hall stage, performing as the drunk in the classic sketch, “Mumming Birds”, just as Chaplin did in his vaudeville days.

Ritchie came from the same basic background as Chaplin, so when Chaplin began to rise to fame, he was a natural choice to put out film comedy shorts to compete. Henry Lehrman, who was previously a director at Mack Sennett, hired Ritchie to star in a series under his “Lehrman Knock-Outs” banner. The comparisons with Chaplin were inevitable. Ritchie used the same costume that Chaplin wore in “Mumming Birds”… the bowler hat, bamboo cane and tattered suit that became famous as the Little Tramp costume.

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