Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film. Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films.
Charles Chaplin Early Life
- Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on 16 April 1889 to Hannah Chaplin and Charles Chaplin Sr.
- Both his parents were music hall entertainer. Hannah had no means of income, other than occasional nursing and dressmaking, and Chaplin Sr. provided no financial support.
- His father, Charles Chaplin, deserted the family and eventually died of alcoholism. His mother, Hannah Chaplin, found it increasingly difficult to find work on the stage and in 1895, the family entered the Lambeth Workhouse.
- In September 1898, Hannah developed a psychosis seemingly brought on by an infection of syphilis and malnutrition.
- Later, Charlie’s mother had a mental breakdown and was sent to the Cane Hill Lunatic Asylum.
Charles Chaplin Early Acting Career
- Between his time in the poor schools and his mother succumbing to mental illness, Chaplin began to perform on stage.
- At the age of eight, he joined Jacksons Eight Lancashire Lads, one of the juvenile variety troupes which were popular then.
- He later obtained favourable press notices as a child in the legitimate theatre, and played the West End and lengthy provincial tours as Billy, the page boy in Sherlock Holmes.
- Chaplin worked hard, and the act was popular with audiences, but he was not satisfied with dancing and wished to form a comedy act.
- He soon found work with a new company, and went on tour with his brother in a comedy sketch called Repairs.
- Chaplin began by playing a series of minor parts, eventually progressing to starring roles in 1909.
Charles Chaplin Movies
- In April 1910, he was given the lead in a new sketch, Jimmy the Fearless. It was a big success, and Chaplin received considerable press attention.
- His first film, Making a Living (1914), his role as a dubious dandy was unexceptional, though well received by the trade press.
- For his second film, a five minute improvisation shot during the event which gave it its title, Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914), he adopted the costume that became world famous.
- In 1919, he co-founded the United Artists film distribution company with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith, all of whom were seeking to escape the growing power consolidation of film distributors and financiers in the developing Hollywood studio system.
- He soon developed the Tramp persona and formed a large fan base. By 1918, he was one of the best-known figures in the world.
- In 1919, Chaplin co-founded the distribution company United Artists which gave him complete control over his films. His first feature-length film was The Kid (1921), followed by A Woman of Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), and The Circus (1928).
Charles Chaplin Controversies
- He became increasingly political, and his next film The Great Dictator (1940) satirized Adolf Hitler. The 1940s decade marked with controversy for Chaplin, and his popularity declined rapidly.
- Social commentary was a feature of Chaplin’s films from early in his career. He portrayed the underdog in a sympathetic light and highlighted the difficulties of the poor.
- Later FBI accused him of communist sympathies. He also created scandal through his involvement in a paternity suit and his marriages to much younger women.
- Soon FBI opened an investigation, which forced Chaplin to leave the United States and settle in Switzerland.
- At 77, Chaplin made one last film, a pleasant romantic comedy, A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).
- He never wholly retired, however. Almost until the end of his life, he continued to work on the preparation of a film called, The Freak.
Charles Chaplin Awards
- Chaplin received many awards and honours, especially later in life. In the 1975, British government appointed him a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE).
- In 1976, British Academy of Film and Television Arts(BAFTA) made Chaplin its Fellow.
Charles Chaplin Death & Legacy
- Chaplin died on Christmas Day, in 1977, in Vevey, Switzerland, following a stroke at the age of 88.
- A year later, thief stole his body in an attempt to extort money from his family. The plot failed, police captured the robbers, and recovered the body after 11 weeks near Lake Geneva.
- After that event, family buried the body under six feet of concrete to prevent another such attempt.
- As a filmmaker, Historian considered Chaplin as a pioneer and one of the most influential figures of the early twentieth century. He is often credited as one of the medium’s first artists.
- In the 21st century, historian still regarded several of Chaplin’s films as classics and among the greatest ever made.