Chaplin, Fairbanks heads still missing, no questions asked upon return

September 24, 2010
Santa Paula News

Two props featured at Saturday’s Moonlight at the Ranch IV: “The Roaring 20’s!” are still missing, and the committee that stages the annual mega fundraiser is asking the public’s help in getting them returned.

The two props are oversized heads of famous silent film stars Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks Sr., signature celebrities of the 1920s. Chaplin was famous as The Little Tramp always wearing a bowler hat; Fairbanks was known for his swashbuckler roles and his wide smile.

The props were designed to be worn, and have shoulder rest type curves on either side of the neck area. The items, also referred to as Madri Gras heads such as those worn in the celebrations, are constructed of lightweight papier-mâché.

Located at Limoneira Park, where more than 1,000 guests - including Honorary Chairman Kevin Costner - were gathered for the first portion of the annual Moonlight event, the props were sitting on banquet tables where appetizers were being served. The park held numerous displays detailing the Roaring 20s, but the Chaplin and Fairbanks props were the only items that went missing.

The heads are the property of History for Hire, a North Hollywood-based prop house notable for their strong support of charitable efforts. “We’re just hoping maybe the theft was spur of the moment thinking” without realizing the “obvious ramifications,” said Police Chief Steve MacKinnon.

“Then, they woke up Sunday morning with these things in their living room thinking, ‘That was a stupid thing to do’ and now they don’t know what to do with them.” What the person(s) who took the heads can do is return them with no questions asked.

MacKinnon said he is “a bit torn on all this,” as the person(s) who took the heads might not have realized they were not just going to be discarded after the event and didn’t consider taking them theft. “As chair of the event I just want get the items back to the prop house that lent the heads to make our night a success. We now have to pay for the items out of the money that would have gone to benefit” the Santa Paula Police and Fire Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce.

Two-thirds of Moonlight proceeds benefit the foundation, which in turn donates the funds to the Santa Paula Police and Fire departments for equipment and other public safety needs. Since the props might have been taken as a prank and the Moonlight at the Ranch Committee would just like them back, no questions will be asked upon their return.

Due to the number of people who attended the Moonlight event it is also possible someone saw a person(s) with the heads. If you know of the whereabouts of the Chaplin and Fairbanks heads, have information about their location or have found them and would like to return them, please contact Limoneira Company at 525-5541 and ask to speak to either John Chamberlain, Frances Gonzales or Camille Yanez, or call MacKinnon at 525-4474 ext 124. Callers are not required to identify themselves.

The heads can also just be left outside Limoneira’s headquarters, 1141 Cummings Rd., Santa Paula. The heads can also be returned to the Santa Paula Times, 944 E. Main St., or the Chamber of Commerce, 200 N. 10th St. (in the historic Depot at the corner of 10th and Santa Barbara streets) during business hours. An email can also be sent to

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.