Grace Cullington, who supposedly worked with Charlie Chaplin as a child actor in the 1930s, appeared onstage in her wheelchair at the BAFTA LA Britannia Awards Saturday night to present Cohen with the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy as well as Chaplin's cane from the 1931 film City Lights.
After graciously accepting Cullington's gift, Cohen imitated Chaplin's penguin waddle before falling into the octogenarian's wheelchair and pushing her off the stage. An appalled hush went around the room until the audience realized they'd been pranked.
“Grace Cullington is the oldest, no, sorry, was the oldest surviving [Chaplin co-star],” Baron Cohen said afterward (via Entertainment Weekly).
“I dedicate my award to her. This is obviously a tragedy. She has upstaged me. But on the bright side, what a great way to go, giving an award to me. Thus, she’ll probably make the Oscars In Memoriam segment,” he said.
“I’d like to say a few words to her family: Do not try to sue me," he continued. "If you decide to get the lawyers involved, I will take you down just like I did your granny. The cane that woman forced on me was clearly defective and I’ve got lots of witnesses. At least 400 in this room and at least 500 watching on TV. Anyway, tonight is not about her, it’s about me.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, "Grace Cullington," was a stuntwoman. No actress of that name ever appeared in City Lights.