Billy Scadlock – Details!

mar14 coverIt’s early in the morning and a man slips quietly into a back lot make-up trailer to begin his transformation. There are no make-up artists around to help him; he will do this all on his own.


He sits down in his chair, opens a can of Coca-Cola, and flips a switch that illuminates his face with a row of lights that line the large mirror in front of him. He begins by covering his face with a pale pancake make-up base, then heavy black eyeliner, black eyebrows, and finally a small, square mustache that is affixed with spirit gum. There is no rouge or blush used since he works from a strictly limited color palate of black, white, and shades of gray. Next come a black wig, baggy pants, a tightfitting jacket, oversized, beat up shoes, and finally the trademark derby and bamboo cane. The man, Billy Scadlock, has ceased to exist, and instead, Charlie Chaplin’s iconic character of “The Little Tramp” lives again, ready to go out and entertain a whole new generation of fans. Although, this time, it is not in a movie theater that seats a few hundred people, but a theme park that will be host to thousands of visitors in a single day.

Billy Scadlock has come to be known as one of the premiere Charlie Chaplin impersonators in the world, and has been in demand for promotional appearances, private parties, theme parks, and television commercials for three decades now. Just how did a young boy who started out doing magic tricks in Key West, Florida, come to portray one of the most famous movie stars in history? Well, I can tell you this, the transformation didn’t just happen overnight.

“Mile Marker Zero,” the starting point of US Highway 1, would be a good place to start a journey, and this is precisely where Billy began his life. Key West, Florida, is an island with a total land area of just 5.9 square miles. Billy’s dad was an electrician, his mother was a homemaker, and Billy was the fourth of five children. Billy’s two older sisters both sang, danced, played musical instruments, and acted in both church and local
theater groups. Billy feels that watching them inspired him to go into the performing arts as well.

Growing up in Key West also had certain advantages. “When I was a kid, it was just fun that I could go swimming whenever I wanted to. Even when I became a teenager and got a part-time job at a grocery store, I would still go and jump in the ocean for a swim before going to work. “There’s a place in Key West called Mallory Square Dock where street performers would gather to do their acts.

In the ‘60s it was mostly hippies playing guitars and bongo drums, and women in tie-dyed skirts dancing around with tambourines. As years passed, northern street performers, such as magicians and jugglers, started showing up in the winter months. For some it was just a stop on their circuit, but others came and stayed.” Watching these performers inspired young Billy to try different styles of performing. Billy went through all the normal childhood phases of wanting to be a cowboy or a fireman, but when he said he wanted to be a magician, he received a “TV Magic Set” as a gift. Although Billy was interested in magic, his interests included many of the allied arts as well. “I remember getting a Danny O’Day ventriloquist figure for Christmas one year. It came with a record that taught how to be a ventriloquist. I listened to that record over and over, practicing the techniques and memorizing all of the routines.”

Growing up, Billy had another inspiration in the form of a great uncle whom he never got to meet. “I was always hearing about this mysterious ‘Uncle Sam’ who was a magician. He had passed away before
I was born, but my relatives would tell me about all the magic tricks and funny things he did and how I reminded them of him.” One day, when Billy was thirteen years old, he was watching the TV game show
To Tell the Truth; the mystery guest of the day was a magician. During the show the magician mentioned the Chavez College of Magic. “When I heard the magician say there was a college for magic I realized that
I wanted to be a professional magician.”

Read all about Billy’s journey to become a world class entertainer in the March issue of M-U-M by Clicking HERE!

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