Chaplin’s hobby was to pose as an asparagus and, when someone was going to eat it, bite the other’s nose instead. This hobby was always good for a laugh. So much so that Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks institutionalized it as a hazing for newcomers. When a new artist arrived in Hollywood, Pickford and Fairbanks would invite him or her to have lunch at ‘Pickfair’ (their Beverly Hills home, described by Life Magazine as “a gathering place only slightly less important than the White House… and much more fun”). ‘All Hollywood’ used to be there on such occasions. Before eating, they used to swim in the pool for a while. When the pool was filled with water, that ‘while’ could last several hours, until they were hungry. Then the waiter would appear with a tray on which Chaplin was characterized as asparagus. (Chaplin was a great actor and knew how to perfectly play the role of asparagus, a very nuanced performance.) Pickford and Fairbanks would invite the rookie to “eat the asparagus” as an appetizer. Typically, the rookie smeared it with mayonnaise and, when he was going to take a bite of it, Chaplin would beat him to it by biting the other’s nose, to applause and great excitement from all those present.

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