Archives On The Air 129: From Pratfalls To Portraits—Jean "Babe" London Papers

Mar 25, 2019

Jean "Babe" London was a silent film comedienne. She acted with Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, and Laurel and Hardy. 

London was known for playing overweight side characters. Her weight was often the butt of the joke. She successfully transitioned from silent films to talkies, even getting star billing.

In the 1940s, London was diagnosed with a heart condition and had to lose weight. Film studios stopped casting her.

London changed career paths. She tried to open a weight loss clinic and spa in Hawaii. But she did not have investors. So, London turned to painting.

She painted portraits of fellow silent movie actors in her Hollywood basement. She displayed her paintings in an exhibition called "From Pratfalls to Portraits".

75 of Jean "Babe" London's paintings are part of the collections at UW's American Heritage Center.