Growing up, Bayside resident Roger Bow remembers bonding with his grandmother Ly Jean Luke over her love of Charlie Chaplin.
Now, Bow will be able to share one of her favorite Chaplin films, “The Gold Rush,” in a Turner Classic Movies (TCM) 25th anniversary celebration that will air on television this April.
As one of 25 contest winners in the 25th Anniversary Fan Dedication Contest, Bow flew out to TCM studios in Atlanta and got the opportunity to introduce a hand-picked film alongside host Ben Mankiewicz.
In October 2018, TCM called on movie fans to enter the contest, which involved individuals choosing a meaningful film and recording a video explaining why they would dedicate the film to a person in their life. Bow decided to enter the contest in honor of his grandma’s love for the “Little Tramp.”
“I’m a fan of the Turner Classic Movie channel and I saw the promo last fall to create a video submission for the 25th Anniversary Fan Dedication Contest,” Bow said.
He chose one of Chaplin’s most beloved films “The Gold Rush,” a silent movie which follows Chaplin’s Little Tramp character up north for the Klondike gold rush. Following World War II, Bow said that his grandmother moved to New York City from China and worked in a sweatshop in Chinatown. After her shifts at work, she would often watch movies at the nearby theaters.
“What struck her were the silent movies because she didn’t need to know English to watch them,” Bow said.
Bow’s grandmother was drawn to the comedy, mime and “great expressive acting” in Chaplin’s films. He shared that “The Gold Rush” was important to her as Chinese immigrant because, like her, the Little Tramp was “an outsider looking in” and she also knew of Chinese immigrants who participated in the West Coast gold rush.
“They would broadcast Chaplin’s movies on TV in the ’70s and I would watch them with her as a young boy,” Bow said. “It was something that she felt she could share with me.”
TCM chose Bow’s 90-second video, along with 24 others, out of over 700 submissions nationwide. He shared that going down to the company’s studios in Atlanta was “one of the best experiences of my life.”
“It was very apparent from Roger’s submission that he shared a genuine connection with his grandmother. His delivery was very simple and from the heart. And when Roger revealed a beautiful framed photograph of his grandmother at the end, I was sold!” said Anne Wilson, Senior Director of Studio Production for TCM, who directed Bow on set and who helped pick the winning guest programmers.
The “royal treatment” included a traditional Southern dinner, bonding with the fellow winners followed by a day of wardrobe, makeup and interviews. Though he had “no idea” what the experience entailed beforehand, he recalls how the TCM crew treated the winners well and “put us at ease.”
“I can’t say enough great things,” Bow said.
Tune in to TCM on April 16 at 8 p.m. to watch Bow’s movie dedication to his grandmother.