The day they stole the body of Charlie Chaplin
Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Looks like something out of a movie Charles Chaplinbetween March 1 and 2, 1978, a Pole and a Bulgarian went to the Corsier-sur-Vevey cemetery, in Switzerland, to dig up the corpse of the comedian and extort money from the widowIt obviously didn’t go as planned.
The men, a Pole named Roman Wardas and the other Gandscho Ganev, a Bulgarian, were mechanics and survived by what they did on a daily basis.
With picks and shovels they went in their truck to the cemetery where the genius of cinema was buried. It took two hours to dig up the 150 kilo coffin, he was taken away and reburied in a cornfield in Noville.
Then, they called the castle of the Chaplin family and asked to speak with the comedian’s last wife, Oona O’Neill, who was informed of the fact and that she had to pay. $600,000 to get the body back.
To his surprise, the widow refused thisthe press was already aware of this amazing event, to which Oona said that: “Charlie all this would have seemed ridiculous”.
The men let several days go by, they believed that the problem was the currency in which they had requested the ransom, so they decided to call again and ask 600 thousand Swiss francsagain the widow answered with a resounding no.
Desperate mechanics made a third call demanding 500 thousand francsOona said no again.
The kidnappers warned the widow that he would receive the final offer at a certain time and date, this helped the police find them.
The Swiss police installed surveillance in the 200 phone booths available. Wardas was captured, confessed, handed over his accomplice and then indicated where the coffin was buried.
The two mechanics were sentenced to less than 5 years in prisonthey wrote letters to Oona to apologize, and she forgave them.
There was much speculation about this kidnapping of Chaplin’s corpse, it was said that anti-Semites had committed the crime, others claimed that they were enraged nazis for Chaplin’s parody of Adolf Hitler called ‘The Great Dictator’.