Maud Linder, historian and the only daughter of silent French film comedian Max Linder, has died aged 93. Her death was reported by the Agence France-Presse.
Maud was only 16 months old when both her parents, Hélène and Max, died in 1925 in a murder-suicide (some press at the time called it a double-suicide).
She was raised by her maternal grandparents and at age 20 saw her father’s films on screen for the first time.
That became the catalyst for her to rescue, restore and release what survived of his large body of work.
“This man was known to millions as Max Linder. He was my father, yet I never knew him” she narrates at the start of The Man in the Silk Hat, a documentary she wrote, produced and directed, which premiered at 1983 Cannes Film Festival.
“The first time we met he was smiling on the screen, beyond my reach and I was wondering why he had been so soon forgotten, he and his films.”
Max Linder was born Gabriel-Maximilien Leuville in France in 1883. A trailblazer of film comedy, he appeared in over 200 short films from 1905 until his early death at age 41.
He created one of cinema’s first recurring characters – ‘Max’ – a young handsome man of the upper class who found himself in constant trouble with the opposite sex.
His visual style and movements were adored by Charlie Chaplin, who befriended him around 1917. “To the one and only Max. The Professor. From his disciple Charles Chaplin” he autographed for him in May of that year.
One of their meetings in Los Angeles was captured by newsreel cameras https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KkS0nC3FJs
But after his death, with the advent of sound, the destruction of his films, and the continued success of Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Linder began disappearing from filmgoers’ memories and was all but forgotten.
It took until 1963 for his work to be rediscovered and reappraised, when Maud supervised the release of Laugh with Max Linder, a compilation of his last three Hollywood films. It received its premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
Maud worked as a journalist in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as an assistant director to French film maker.
She later published the book “Max Linder Was My Father “, and received the Prix Henri Langlois award which honours film conservation and restoration.
Although her parents death is often called a double-suicide, Maud says “he killed my mother, and killed himself, and left me at 15 months old” in this 2010 interview