London: The eager crowd watches Charlie the Busker take centrestage. Mediadrumimages / Topfoto / Retronaut

By Alex Jones


FASCINATING photos from the 1950s show a cheeky Charlie Chaplin impersonator playing to the crowds – an act that got him arrested OVER 400 TIMES for ‘obstruction’.

London: A young fan drps a coin in Charlie the Busker’s hat in return for a good show. Mediadrumimages / Topfoto / Retronaut


The incredible images, taken in London in December 1951, show the artist ‘snake charming’ in a fez whilst kneeling on the street in front of a queueing cinema audience, offering his hat to young spectators in the hope of a few coins, and being defiantly led away from the scene by a uniformed police officer.

London: Wearing a Fez, Charlie charms the crowd as well as a ‘snake’. Mediadrumimages / Topfoto / Retronaut


Another shot shows the street performer walking grimly down the steps of a local police, having paid his 413th fine for obstruction.

The characterful performer, known only as ‘Charlie the Busker’, plied his trade in front of waiting cinema audiences. In these stunning shots, the crowds are being entertained whilst waiting to watch courtroom drama ‘The People Against O’Hara’ on the big screen.

London: Charlie the Busker looks towards the camera brandishing an umbrella. Mediadrumimages / Topfoto / Retronaut


Charlie Chaplin, who Charlie the Busker was mimicking, was a legendary British comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film and became recognised as one of the most famous faces of the 20th Century.

When these photos were captured, Chaplin would have been putting the final touches to his 1952 movie ‘Limelight’.