Charlie Chaplin went to france

Movie stars of the day tend to turn up in rhymes, which may outlive their careers. In the 1950s, folklorists in England collected several variations on:

Charlie Chaplin went to France
to teach the ladies how to dance
he did the rhumba
he did the kicks
he did the samba
then the splits!

Chaplin was a very popular character in jump rope and ball bouncing rhymes from the beginning of his career – many of the rhymes on this site had variations mentioning him at one point or another (ie there was a “Charlie Chaplin had no sense, he bought a fiddle for 18 pence….”) But the most common seem to have been about him going to France to teach people how to dance (perhaps to groom them for careers at that famous place in France?

Versions of that song have been recorded since at least 1926, most often starring Chaplin, but also featuring other icons, most often Shirley Temple.

Interstingly, in Josepha Sherman’s book (see sidebar), she recorded the following that was heard in Modesto, CA – in 1975:

Charlie Chaplin went to France
to teach the girls the hula hula dance
first on the heels, then on the toes
do the splits and around she goes
Salute to the captain, now to the queen
turn your back on the dirty submarine

This mashes up TWO British rhymes – another rhyme with hand motions in England was Salute the king / salute the queen / salute the german submarine (with an obscene gesture). At the same time, kids in the states were ending that with “touch the dirty submarine” (which they did by touching their butts). There’s a whole entry on Salute the King.

How long has Chaplin lasted? Are kids still saying these ones?

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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Charlie Chaplin went to france
    to teach the ladies how to dance
    and this is how you do it
    heel toe and over we go over we go over we go
    heel toe and over we go
    and this is how you do it
    Charlie Chaplin went to france
    to teach the ladies how to dance
    and this is how you do it
    heel toe and up we go and up we go and up we go
    heel toe and up we go
    and this is how you do it
    Charlie Chaplin went to france
    to teach the ladies how to dance
    and this is how you do it
    heel toe and around we go around we go around we go
    heel toe and around we go
    and this is how you do it
    Charlie Chaplin went to france
    to teach the ladies how to dance
    and this is how you do it
    heel toe and over we go and up we go and around we go
    heel toe and over we go and that was how he did it.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    At school I played

    Charly Chaplin went to France
    To teach the girls the hula-hula dance
    A toe, a toe, around she goes
    Salute to the captain, a bow to the queen
    then touch the floor of the yellow submarine
    1,2,3.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    charlie chaplin went to the town
    to teach the girls hula hula dance
    a knee a toe and round he goes
    salute to the king and bow to the queen
    touch the ground and make it clean
    if u know the numbers den sing wid me….
    a 1.2 3 …..10…..

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I've never heard of Charlie Chaplin, but that might be because I live in Canada (or that I'm too young).

    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Charlie Chaplin went to France
    Just to see the ladies dance
    Salute to the cap'n
    Salute to the Queen
    My old man drives a sub-mar-ine!

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Charlie Chaplin went to France
    To teach the girls a hula dance
    A heel, a toe, around we go
    Salute to the Captain
    Curtsy to the Queen
    Touch the bottom of the submarine

    Maryland-early 60's

    Reply
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