Translation of: Max Linder., Nieuws van den dag voor Nederlandsch-Indië, 30. Nov. 1914
LEO FAUST writes from Paris, dated October 20th:
It is said that the popular movie artist, the "enfant cheri" of the cinema-loving public, Max Linder is supposed to be dead — mort au champ d'honneur.
Here in Paris, the rumor stubbornly made the rounds for a long time, and when I recently was in Holland for a few days, I had to note that there, many believed in that chatter.
I knew that it was nonsense. Linder did get drafted, but he has never been in the firing line. His always somewhat shaky health, doesn't allow him to withstand the fatigues of the battlefield, so the military administration appointed him a job in Paris and asked him to work at the commissariat of the Red Cross. Killed in action, the great comedian couldn't have been.
But it was useless, explaining this to the people of Holland. »Well, you get as an answer, you only say that, so the old films can pass as new ones. But I have heard from a very reliable source, that he is dead". The very reliable source turns out to be the servant of the baker on the corner, or a cousin of the working woman. And man likes to tell something sensational and likes to believe in something controversial.
As soon as I was back in Paris, I went to see Linder to hear from his own mouth the denial of his death and — if possible — to get a hold of some document with which I could prove to my readers that he is not thinking of resigning.
On my first visit I found "Max" was not home, but this morning I repeated my attempt during the coffee hour and this time with more success.
Linder lives here, when he does not dwell on his outer-estate, in a magnificent rez-de-chaussée on the Quai d'Orsay No. 113. In front of the house splashes the Seine, and in the distance, on the other bank, diagonally opposite, gleams the typical structure of the Trocadero.
An old maidservant, type dutch cleaning woman, led me into a little coquet salon, yellowsatin and dark red mahogany. Would I please sit down and wait some five minutes. Monsieur was at his breakfast, had just arrived home by car.
I used the five minutes to look around the room. In the field of paintings Linder seems to be an admirer of the pointillé. On the wall hung several paintings, all pointillist style, with lots of bright ocher-yellow and hard blue, but on the whole quite clever in their genre. Furthermore, I discovered such a beautiful library cabinet with bound Shakesperes, Lamartines, Victor Hugos. But the most typical was on the yellow satin sofa, which was tastefully built in a corner, a very big teddy-bear! ….
I did not have to wait long. Indeed it was no more than five minutes. In the adjoining room I heard some clicking of porcelain crockery, a few wiping with a clothes brush, and then the door opened and the man, who at Pathé's in three years time earns a million, came with an outstretched hand towards me.
He was in the costume of ordinary French military, but a uniform that fit him beautifully. My first impression was: what small size he is! My second: how neatly his jacket fits!
He did not act in any way comedic. Modest and serious he took a seat opposite me, as soon as I sat down again, — a sympathetic, well-educated, simple soldier again.
— "Well," he said, when I had explained to him the purpose of my visit, the nonsensical rumors are not only in your country but around the whole world. Of course I want nothing more than contradict them and I would love to meet your request to give a little attestation of my vita, if I weren't prohibited, as a military man, in these days, in giving something, whatever it may be, in writing.
The evasion seemed to me — frankly speaking — a little childish. I have a lot of good faith, but I am not so naive to believe that in these gloomy times, the French military would ban giving to family and friends a sign of life.
Had Linder told me, "Look, if I give to you such a paper, I have to give it to others too, otherwise I make angry friends and I get myself involved in an endless soesah" — then I would have had to answer in my heart: man, you're right!
But this excuse!
Meanwhile, the politeness commanded me to accept it. Only I then suggested the idea to just give me a portrait, even a push-the-button, on which the believed dead puts his signature and the date of today on the back. That can not be banned!
But my host didn't want that either.
„I have something better!" he interrupted me.
And then he told me, to stop the rumors he had asked his boss for his consent for recording a movie, in which will be seen "Max" as a soldier at work —. As a soldier, — no acting this time, but in earnest!
Linder has already obtained this permission, and one of these days, one morning the weather is favorable, an operator of the house Pathé Frères will make the recording. They will be certified by the military authority and date. And soon will the public of the whole world applaud their favorite child, not in a role, but among his fellow soldiers and in a package for once not specificly made for the cinemas, — and convince themselves with their own eyes of his life and his well being.
In the meantime, I at least can tell you by my word of honor that the great comedian was still alive this morning, full of courage and dedication to the cause and that I wished him "personally" a bonne chance for the future.
Max Linder is not dead; he lives!
(Nieuws van den dag voor Nederlandsch-Indië, Nov. 30, 1914)