(16 April 1889 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film
era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I. Chaplin used mime
and other visual comedy
routines, and continued well into the era of the talkies, though his films decreased in frequency from the end of the 1920s.
Wars, conflict, it's all business. "One murder makes a villain. Millions a hero". Numbers sanctify.
I am for people. I can't help it.
I remain just one thing, and one thing only — and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.
I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked onto the stage he was fully born.
All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.
Friends have asked how I came to engender this American antagonism. My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non-conformist. Although I am not a Communist I refused to fall in line by hating them. Secondly, I was opposed to the Committee on Un-American Activities — a dishonest phrase to begin with, elastic enough to wrap around the throat and strangle the voice of any American citizen whose honest opinion is a minority of one.
I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of an ancestral promptings and urgings, a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, of all of which I am the sum total.
Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish. ... The trouble is you won't fight. You've given up. But there's something just as inevitable as death. And that's life. Think of the power of the universe — turning the Earth, growing the trees. That's the same power within you — if you'll only have the courage and the will to use it.
You'll never find rainbows if you’re looking down.
I hope we shall abolish war and settle all differences at the conference table... I hope we shall abolish all hydrogen and atom bombs before they abolish us first.
(16 April 1889 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film
era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I. Chaplin used mime
and other visual comedy
routines, and continued well into the era of the talkies, though his films decreased in frequency from the end of the 1920s. His most famous role was that of The Tramp
, which he first played in the Keystone
comedy Kid Auto Races at Venice
in 1914. From the April 1914 one-reeler Twenty Minutes of Love
onwards he was writing and directing most of his films, by 1916 he was also producing them, and from 1918 he was even composing the music for them. With Mary Pickford
, Douglas Fairbanks
and D. W. Griffith
, he co-founded United Artists
Chaplin was one of the most creative and influential personalities of the silent-film era. He was influenced by his predecessor, the French silent film comedian Max Linder
, to whom he dedicated one of his films. His working life in entertainment spanned over 75 years, from the Victorian
stage and the music hall
in the United Kingdom as a child performer, until close to his death at the age of 88. His high-profile public and private life encompassed both adulation and controversy. Chaplin's identification with the left
ultimately forced him to resettle in Europe during the McCarthy era in the early 1950s.
In 1999, the American Film Institute
ranked Chaplin the 10th greatest male screen legend of all time. In 2008, Martin Sieff, in a review of the book Chaplin: A Life
, wrote: "Chaplin was not just 'big', he was gigantic. In 1915, he burst onto a war-torn world bringing it the gift of comedy, laughter and relief while it was tearing itself apart through World War I. Over the next 25 years, through the Great Depression
and the rise of Adolf Hitler
, he stayed on the job. ... It is doubtful any individual has ever given more entertainment, pleasure and relief to so many human beings when they needed it the most". George Bernard Shaw
called Chaplin "the only genius to come out of the movie industry".
Early life in London (1889–1909)Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on 16 April 1889, supposedly in East Street
, London, England. (In 2011, a letter, written to him in the 1970s, came to light, claiming that he had been born in a Gypsy caravan at Black Patch Park
, Staffordshire.) His parents were entertainers in the music hall
tradition; his father, Charles Spencer Chaplin Sr, was a vocalist and an actor while his mother, Hannah Chaplin
, was a singer and an actress who went by the stage name Lilly Harley. They separated before Charlie was three. He learned singing from his parents. The 1891 census shows that his mother lived with Charlie and his older half-brother Sydney
on Barlow Street, Walworth.
As a child, Chaplin also lived with his mother in various addresses in and around Kennington Road
in Lambeth, including 3 Pownall Terrace, Chester Street and 39 Methley Street. His paternal grandmother's mother was from the Smith family of Romanichals, a fact of which he was extremely proud, though he described it in his autobiography as "the skeleton in our family cupboard". Charles Chaplin Sr. was an alcoholic and had little contact with his son, though Chaplin and his half-brother briefly lived with him and his mistress, Louise, at 287 Kennington Road. The half-brothers lived there while their mentally ill mother lived at Cane Hill
Asylum at Coulsdon
. Chaplin's father's mistress sent the boy to Archbishop Temple's Boys School. His father died of cirrhosis
when Charlie was twelve in 1901. As of the 1901 Census, Chaplin resided at 94 Ferndale Road, Lambeth, as part of a troupe of young male dancers, The Eight Lancashire Lads
, managed by William Jackson.
condition ended the singing career of Hannah Chaplin. After her re-admission to the Cane Hill Asylum, her son was left in the workhouse
at Lambeth in south London, moving several weeks later to the Central London District School for paupers in Hanwell
In 1903 Chaplin secured the role of Billy the pageboy in Sherlock Holmes, written by William Gillette
and starring English actor H. A. Saintsbury
. Saintsbury took Chaplin under his wing and taught him to marshal his talents. In 1905 Gillette came to England with Marie Doro
to debut his new play, Clarice, but the play did not go well. When Gillette staged his one-act curtain-raiser, The Painful Predicament of Sherlock Holmes as a joke on the British press, Chaplin was brought in from the provinces to play Billy. When Sherlock Holmes was substituted for Clarice, Chaplin remained as Billy until the production ended on 2 December. During the run, Gillette coached Chaplin in his restrained acting style. Acting in Sherlock Holmes entitled Chaplin to an West End
actor's pass for the funeral of Britain's most respected Shakespearean actor, Sir Henry Irving
, which he attended, sitting next to the actor Lewis Waller
. It was during this engagement that the teenage Chaplin fell hopelessly in love with Doro, but his love went unrequited and Doro returned to America with Gillette when the production closed.
They met again in Hollywood eleven years later. She had forgotten his name but, when introduced to her, Chaplin told her of being silently in love with her and how she had broken his young heart. Over dinner, he laid it on thick about his unrequited love. Nothing came of it until two years later, when they were both in New York and she invited him to dinner and a drive. Instead, Chaplin noted, they simply “dined quietly in Marie’s apartment alone.” However, as Kenneth Lynn pointed out, “Chaplin would not have been Chaplin if he had simply dined quietly with Marie.”
First years in the United States (1910–1913)
troupe from 1910 to 1912. After five months in England, he returned to the U.S. for a second tour, arriving with the Karno Troupe on 2 October 1912. In the Karno Company was Arthur Stanley Jefferson, who later became known as Stan Laurel
. Chaplin and Laurel shared a room in a boarding house. Laurel returned to England but Chaplin remained in the United States. In late 1913, Chaplin's act with the Karno Troupe was seen by Mack Sennett
, Mabel Normand
, Minta Durfee
, and "Fatty" Arbuckle. Sennett hired him for his studio, the Keystone Film Company
as a replacement for Ford Sterling
. Chaplin had considerable difficulty adjusting to the demands of film acting and his performance suffered for it. After Chaplin's first film appearance, Making a Living
was filmed, Sennett felt he had made a costly mistake. Most historians agree it was Normand who persuaded him to give Chaplin another chance.
Sennett did not warm to Chaplin right away, and Chaplin believed Sennett intended to fire him following a disagreement with Normand. However, Chaplin's pictures were soon a success, and he became one of the biggest stars at Keystone.
Chaplin was given over to Normand, who directed and wrote a handful of his earliest films. Chaplin did not enjoy being directed by a woman, and they often disagreed. Eventually, the two worked out their differences and remained friends long after Chaplin left Keystone.
The Tramp (1914–1915)
(released on 7 February 1914). However, Chaplin had devised the tramp costume for a film produced a few days earlier but released later (9 February 1914), Mabel's Strange Predicament
. Mack Sennett had requested that Chaplin "get into a comedy make-up". As Chaplin recalled in his autobiography
"The Tramp" is a vagrant with the refined manners, clothes, and dignity of a gentleman
. Arbuckle contributed his father-in-law's bowler hat ('derby') and his own pants (of generous proportions). Chester Conklin
provided the little cutaway
tailcoat, and Ford Sterling
the size-14 shoes, which were so big, Chaplin had to wear each on the wrong foot to keep them on. He devised the moustache from a bit of crepe hair belonging to Mack Swain
. The only thing Chaplin himself owned was the whangee
", Chaplin's principal character, was known as "Charlot" in the French-speaking world, Italy, Spain, Andorra, Portugal, Greece, Romania and Turkey, "Carlitos" in Brazil and Argentina, and "Der Vagabund" in Germany.
Chaplin continued to play the Tramp through dozens of short films and, later, feature-length productions (in only a handful of other productions did he play characters other than the Tramp). He portrayed a Keystone Kop in A Thief Catcher
filmed 5–26 Jan 1914.
The Tramp was closely identified with the silent era, and was considered an international character; when the sound era began in the late 1920s, Chaplin refused to make a talkie featuring the character. The 1931 production City Lights
featured no dialogue. Chaplin officially retired the character in the film Modern Times
(released 5 February 1936), which appropriately ended with the Tramp walking down an endless highway toward the horizon. The film was only a partial talkie and is often called the last silent film. The Tramp remains silent until near the end of the film when, for the first time, his voice is finally heard, albeit only as part of a French/Italian-derived gibberish song.
Chaplin's early Keystones use the standard Mack Sennett formula of extreme physical comedy
and exaggerated gestures. Chaplin's pantomime was subtler, more suitable to romantic and domestic farces than to the usual Keystone chases and mob scenes. The visual gags were pure Keystone, however; the tramp character would aggressively assault his enemies with kicks and bricks. Moviegoers loved this cheerfully earthy new comedian, even though critics warned that his antics bordered on vulgarity. Chaplin was soon entrusted with directing and editing his own films. He made 34 shorts for Sennett during his first year in pictures, as well as the landmark comedy feature Tillie's Punctured Romance
The Tramp was featured in the first film trailer to be exhibited in a U.S. cinema, a slide promotion developed by Nils Granlund
, advertising manager for the Marcus Loew
theatre chain, and shown at the Loew's Seventh Avenue Theatre in Harlem in 1914.
In 1915, Chaplin signed a much more favourable contract with Essanay Studios
, and further developed his cinematic skills, adding new levels of depth and pathos to the Keystone-style slapstick. Most of the Essanay films were more ambitious, running twice as long as the average Keystone comedy. Chaplin also developed his own stock company, including ingénue
and comic villains Leo White
and Bud Jamison.
Chaplin's popularity continued to soar in the early years following the start of WW1. He started to become noticed by stars of the legitimate theatre. Minnie Maddern Fiske, one of the legends of the stage endorsed Chaplin's artistry in an article in Harper's Weekly
(6 May 1915). At the start of her article Mrs. Fiske spoke, "...To the writer Charles Chaplin appears as a great comic artist, possessing inspirational powers and a technique as unfaltering as Rejane's
. If it be treason to Art to say this, then let those exalted persons who allow culture to be defined only upon their own terms make the most of it..." In the following years Chaplin would make many friends from the world of the Broadway stage.
Chaplin was emerging as the supreme exponent of silent films, an emigrant himself from London. Chaplin's Tramp enacted the difficulties and humiliations of the immigrant underdog
, the constant struggle at the bottom of the American heap and yet he triumphed over adversity without ever rising to the top, and thereby stayed in touch with his audience. Chaplin's films were also deliciously subversive. The bumbling officials enabled the immigrants to laugh at those they feared.
Pioneering film artist and global celebrity (1916–1918)In 1916, the Mutual Film Corporation paid Chaplin US$670,000 to produce a dozen two-reel comedies. He was given near complete artistic control, and produced twelve films over an eighteen-month period that rank among the most influential comedy films in all cinema. Of his Mutual comedies, the best known include: Easy Street
, One A.M.
, The Pawnshop
, and The Adventurer
. Edna Purviance remained the leading lady, and Chaplin added Eric Campbell
, Henry Bergman
, and Albert Austin
to his stock company; Campbell, a Gilbert and Sullivan
veteran, provided superb villainy, and second bananas Bergman and Austin would remain with Chaplin for decades. Chaplin regarded the Mutual period as the happiest of his career, although he also had concerns that the films during that time were becoming formulaic owing to the stringent production schedule his contract required. Upon the U.S. entering World War I, Chaplin became a spokesman for Liberty Bonds with his close friend Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.
Most of the Chaplin films in circulation date from his Keystone, Essanay, and Mutual periods. After Chaplin assumed control of his productions in 1918 (and kept exhibitors and audiences waiting for them), entrepreneurs serviced the demand for Chaplin by bringing back his older comedies. The films were recut, retitled, and reissued again and again, first for theatres, then for the home-film market, and in recent years, for home video. Even Essanay was guilty of this practice, fashioning "new" Chaplin comedies from old film clips and out-takes. The twelve Mutual comedies were revamped as sound films in 1933, when producer Amadee J. Van Beuren added new orchestral scores
and sound effects.
At the conclusion of the Mutual contract in 1917, Chaplin signed a contract with First National
to produce eight two-reel films. First National financed and distributed these pictures (1918–23) but otherwise gave him complete creative control over production. Chaplin now had his own studio, and he could work at a more relaxed pace that allowed him to focus on quality. Although First National expected Chaplin to deliver short comedies like the celebrated Mutuals, Chaplin ambitiously expanded most of his personal projects into longer, feature-length films, including Shoulder Arms
(1918), The Pilgrim (1923) and the feature-length classic The Kid
United Artists (1919–1939)
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
. This move, along with complete control of his film production through his studio, assured Chaplin's independence as a film-maker. He served on the board of UA until the early 1950s.
All Chaplin's United Artists pictures were of feature length, beginning with the atypical drama in which Chaplin had only a brief cameo role, A Woman of Paris
(1923). This was followed by the classic comedies The Gold Rush
(1925) and The Circus (1928).
After the arrival of sound films, Chaplin continued to focus on silent films with a synchronised recorded score, which included sound effects and music with melodies based in popular songs or composed by him; The Circus (1928), City Lights
(1931), and Modern Times
(1936) were essentially silent films. City Lights has been praised for its mixture of comedy and sentimentality. Critic James Agee
, for example, wrote in Life magazine in 1949 that the final scene in City Lights was the "greatest single piece of acting ever committed to celluloid
Although "talkies" became the dominant mode of film making soon after they were introduced in 1927, Chaplin resisted making such a film all through the 1930s. He considered cinema essentially a pantomimic art. He said: "Action is more generally understood than words. Like Chinese symbolism, it will mean different things according to its scenic connotation. Listen to a description of some unfamiliar object—an African warthog, for example; then look at a picture of the animal and see how surprised you are".
It is a tribute to Chaplin's versatility that he also has one film credit for choreography for the 1952 film Limelight, and another as a singer for the title music of The Circus (1928). The best known of several songs he composed are "Smile", composed for the film Modern Times
(1936) and given lyrics to help promote a 1950s revival of the film, famously covered by Nat King Cole
. "This Is My Song
" from Chaplin's last film, A Countess from Hong Kong
, was a number one hit in several different languages in the late 1960s (most notably the version by Petula Clark
and discovery of an unreleased version in the 1990s recorded in 1967 by Judith Durham
of The Seekers
), and Chaplin's theme from Limelight was a hit in the 1950s under the title "Eternally." Chaplin's score to Limelight won an Academy Award in 1972; a delay in the film premiering in Los Angeles made it eligible decades after it was filmed. Chaplin also wrote scores for his earlier silent films when they were re-released in the sound era, notably The Kid for its 1971 re-release.
The Great Dictator (1940)Chaplin's first talking picture, The Great Dictator
(1940), was an act of defiance against Nazism
. It was filmed and released in the United States one year before the U.S. entry into World War II. Chaplin played the role of "Adenoid Hynkel", Dictator of Tomainia, modelled on German dictator Adolf Hitler
, who was only four days his junior and sported a similar moustache. The film also showcased comedian Jack Oakie
as "Benzino Napaloni", dictator of Bacteria, a jab at Italian dictator Benito Mussolini
filmed with Chaplin again, depicting a woman in the ghetto. The film was seen as an act of courage in the political environment of the time, both for its ridicule of Nazism, for the portrayal of overt Jewish characters, and the depiction of their persecution. In addition to Hynkel, Chaplin also played a look-alike Jewish barber persecuted by the regime. The barber physically resembled the Tramp character.
At the conclusion, the two characters Chaplin portrayed swapped positions through a complex plot, and he dropped out of his comic character to address the audience directly in a speech denouncing dictatorship, greed, hate, and intolerance, in favour of liberty and human brotherhood.
The film was nominated for Academy awards for Best Picture (producer)
, Best Original Screenplay (writer)
and Best Actor
McCarthy eraAlthough Chaplin had his major successes in the United States and was a resident from 1914 to 1953, he always maintained a neutral nationalistic stance. During the era of McCarthyism
, Chaplin was accused of "un-American activities" as a suspected communist and J. Edgar Hoover
, who had instructed the FBI to keep extensive secret files on him, tried to end his United States residency. FBI pressure on Chaplin grew after his 1942 campaign for a second European front in the war and reached a critical level in the late 1940s, when Congressional figures threatened to call him as a witness in hearings. This was never done, probably from fear of Chaplin's ability to lampoon the investigators.
In 1952, Chaplin left the US for what was intended as a brief trip home to the United Kingdom for the London premiere of Limelight. Hoover learned of the trip and negotiated with the Immigration and Naturalization Service
to revoke Chaplin's re-entry permit, exiling Chaplin so he could not return for his alleged political leanings. Chaplin decided not to re-enter the United States, writing: "Since the end of the last world war, I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America's yellow press
, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States."
That Chaplin was unprepared to remain abroad, or that the revocation of his right to re-enter the United States by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
was a surprise to him, may be apocryphal: An anecdote in some contradiction is recorded during a broad interview with Richard Avedon
, celebrated New York portraitist.
Avedon is credited with the last portrait of the entertainer to be taken before his departure to Europe and therefore the last photograph of him as a singularly “American icon.” According to Avedon, Chaplin telephoned him at his studio in New York while on a layover before the final leg of his travel to England. The photographer considered the impromptu self-introduction a prank and angrily answered his caller with the riposte, “If you’re Charlie Chaplin, I’m Franklin Roosevelt!” To mollify Avedon, Chaplin assured the photographer of his authenticity and added the comment, “If you want to take my picture, you'd better do it now. They are coming after me and I won’t be back. I leave ... (imminently).” Avedon interrupted his production commitments to take Chaplin’s portrait the next day, and never saw him again.
Chaplin then made his home in Vevey
, Switzerland. He briefly and triumphantly returned to the United States in April 1972, with his wife, to receive an Honorary Oscar
, and also to discuss how his films would be re-released and marketed.
Final works (1957–1976)Chaplin's final two films were made in London: A King in New York
(1957) in which he starred, wrote, directed and produced; and A Countess from Hong Kong
(1967), which he directed, produced, and wrote. The latter film stars Sophia Loren
and Marlon Brando
, and Chaplin made his final on-screen appearance in a brief cameo role as a seasick steward. He also composed the music for both films with the theme song from A Countess From Hong Kong, "This is My Song
", reaching number one in the UK as sung by Petula Clark
. Chaplin also compiled a film The Chaplin Revue
from three First National films A Dog's Life
(1918), Shoulder Arms
(1918) and The Pilgrim (1923) for which he composed the music and recorded an introductory narration. As well as directing these final films, Chaplin also wrote My Autobiography
, between 1959 and 1963, which was published in 1964.
In his pictorial autobiography My Life In Pictures, published in 1974, Chaplin indicated that he had written a screenplay for his daughter, Victoria; entitled The Freak
, the film would have cast her as an angel. According to Chaplin, a script was completed and pre-production rehearsals had begun on the film (the book includes a photograph of Victoria in costume), but were halted when Victoria married. "I mean to make it some day," Chaplin wrote. However, his health declined steadily in the 1970s which hampered all hopes of the film ever being produced.
From 1969 until 1976, Chaplin wrote original music compositions and scores for his silent pictures and re-released them. He composed the scores of all his First National shorts: The Idle Class
in 1971 (paired with The Kid for re-release in 1972), A Day's Pleasure
in 1973, Pay Day
in 1972, Sunnyside
in 1974, and of his feature length films firstly The Circus in 1969 and The Kid
in 1971. Chaplin worked with music associate Eric James whilst composing all his scores.
He received a knighthood on 4 March 1975, at the age of 85. Chaplin's last completed work was the score for his 1923 film A Woman of Paris
, which was completed in 1976, by which time Chaplin was extremely frail, even finding communication difficult.
Death (1977)Chaplin's robust health began to slowly fail in the late 1960s, after the completion of his final film A Countess from Hong Kong
, and more rapidly after he received his Academy Award in 1972. By 1977, he had difficulty communicating, and was using a wheelchair. Chaplin died in his sleep in Vevey
, Switzerland on Christmas Day 1977.
Chaplin was interred in Corsier-Sur-Vevey Cemetery, Switzerland. On 1 March 1978, his corpse was stolen by a small group of Swiss mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family. The plot failed; the robbers were captured, and the corpse was recovered eleven weeks later near Lake Geneva
. His body was reburied under 6 feet (1.8 m) of concrete to prevent further attempts.
Filmmaking techniquesChaplin never spoke more than cursorily about his filmmaking methods, claiming such a thing would be tantamount to a magician spoiling his own illusion. In fact, until he began making spoken dialogue films with The Great Dictator
in 1940, Chaplin never shot from a completed script. The method he developed, once his Essanay contract gave him the freedom to write for and direct himself, was to start from a vague premise—for example "Charlie enters a health spa" or "Charlie works in a pawn shop." Chaplin then had sets constructed and worked with his stock company to improvise gags and "business" around them, almost always working the ideas out on film. As ideas were accepted and discarded, a narrative structure would emerge, frequently requiring Chaplin to reshoot an already-completed scene that might have otherwise contradicted the story. Chaplin's unique filmmaking techniques became known only after his death, when his rare surviving outtakes and cut sequences were carefully examined in the 1983 British documentary Unknown Chaplin
This is one reason why Chaplin took so much longer to complete his films than his rivals did. In addition, Chaplin was an incredibly exacting director, showing his actors exactly how he wanted them to perform and shooting scores of takes until he had the shot he wanted. Animator Chuck Jones
, who lived near Charlie Chaplin's Lone Star studio as a boy, remembered his father saying he watched Chaplin shoot a scene more than a hundred times until he was satisfied with it. This combination of story improvisation and relentless perfectionism—which resulted in days of effort and thousands of feet of film being wasted, all at enormous expense—often proved very taxing for Chaplin, who in frustration would often lash out at his actors and crew, keep them waiting idly for hours or, in extreme cases, shutting down production altogether.
Comparison with other silent comicsSince the 1960s, Chaplin's films have been compared to those of Buster Keaton
and Harold Lloyd
(the other two great silent film comedians of the time), especially among the loyal fans of each comic.
The three had different styles: Chaplin had a strong affinity for sentimentality and pathos (which was popular in the 1920s), Lloyd was renowned for his everyman persona and 1920s optimism, and Keaton adhered to onscreen stoicism with a cynical tone more suited to modern audiences.
Commercially, Chaplin made some of the highest-grossing films in the silent era; The Gold Rush
is the fifth with US$4.25 million and The Circus is the seventh with US$3.8 million. However, Chaplin's films combined made about US$10.5 million while Harold Lloyd's grossed US$15.7 million. Lloyd was far more prolific, releasing twelve feature films in the 1920s while Chaplin released just three. Buster Keaton's films were not nearly as commercially successful as Chaplin's or Lloyd's even at the height of his popularity, and only received belated critical acclaim in the late 1950s and 1960s.
There is evidence that Chaplin and Keaton, who both got their start in vaudeville, thought highly of one another: Keaton stated in his autobiography that Chaplin was the greatest comedian that ever lived, and the greatest comedy director, whereas Chaplin welcomed Keaton to United Artists
in 1925, advised him against his disastrous move to MGM in 1928, and for his last American film, Limelight, wrote a part specifically for Keaton as his first on-screen comedy partner since 1915.
Composer and songwriterChaplin wrote or co-wrote the scores and songs for many of his films. "Smile", which he composed for his film, Modern Times
, hit number 2 on the UK charts when sung by Nat King Cole
in the 1950s. It was also Michael Jackson
's favourite song. "This Is My Song
", written and composed by Chaplin for his film, A Countess from Hong Kong
, hit number 1 on the UK charts when sung by Petula Clark
in the 1960s. In 1973, Chaplin won the Oscar for Best Film Score
for his film, Limelight. Chaplin was not the only member of his family with musical talent; his nephew, Spencer Dryden
was the drummer for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
inducted band, Jefferson Airplane
. His silent films made prior to the Great Depression
typically did not contain overt political themes or messages, apart from the Tramp's plight in poverty and his run-ins with the law, but his 1930s films were more openly political. Modern Times
depicts workers and poor people in dismal conditions. The final dramatic speech in The Great Dictator, which was critical of following patriotic nationalism without question, and his vocal public support for the opening of a second European front in 1942 to assist the Soviet Union
in World War II were controversial.
Chaplin declined to support the war effort as he had done for World War I which led to public anger, although his two sons saw service in the Army in Europe. For most of World War II he was fighting serious criminal and civil charges related to his involvement with actress Joan Barry
(see below). After the war, his 1947 black comedy
, Monsieur Verdoux
showed a critical view of capitalism. Chaplin's final American film, Limelight, was less political and more autobiographical in nature. His following European-made film, A King in New York
(1957), satirised the political persecution and paranoia that had forced him to leave the U.S. five years earlier.
On religion, Chaplin wrote in his autobiography, “In Philadelphia, I inadvertently came upon an edition of Robert Ingersoll
's Essays and Lectures. This was an exciting discovery; his atheism confirmed my own belief that the horrific cruelty of the Old Testament was degrading to the human spirit.”
Other controversiesDuring World War I, Chaplin was criticised in the British press for not joining the Army. He had in fact presented himself for service, but was denied for being too small at 5'5" and underweight. Chaplin raised substantial funds for the war effort during war bond
drives not only with public speaking at rallies but also by making, at his own expense, The Bond
, a comedic propaganda film
used in 1918. The lingering controversy may have prevented Chaplin from receiving a knighthood in the 1930s. A 1916 propaganda short film Zepped with Chaplin was discovered in 2009.
For Chaplin's entire career, some level of controversy existed over claims of Jewish ancestry. Nazi propaganda in the 1930s and 40s prominently portrayed him as Jewish (named Karl Tonstein) relying on articles published in the U.S. press before, and FBI investigations of Chaplin in the late 1940s also focused on Chaplin's ethnic origin
s. There is no documentary evidence of Jewish ancestry for Chaplin himself. For his entire public life, he fiercely refused to challenge or refute claims that he was Jewish, saying that to do so would always "play directly into the hands of anti-Semites." Although baptised
in the Church of England
, Chaplin was thought to be an agnostic for most of his life.
Chaplin's lifelong attraction to younger women
remains another enduring source of interest to some. His biographers have attributed this to a teenage infatuation with Hetty Kelly, whom he met in Britain while performing in the music hall, and which possibly defined his feminine ideal. Chaplin clearly relished the role of discovering and closely guiding young female stars; with the exception of Mildred Harris
, all of his marriages and most of his major relationships began in this manner.
Personal life and familyChaplin's mother died in 1928 in Glendale
, California, seven years after she was brought to the U.S. by her sons. Unknown to Charlie and Sydney until years later, they had a half-brother through their mother. The boy, Wheeler Dryden
(1892–1957), was raised abroad by his father but later connected with the rest of the family and went to work for Chaplin at his Hollywood studio. In 1928, Chaplin built the Montecito Inn
near Santa Barbara
as an escape from showbiz with his closest friends.
The South African duo Locnville
, Andrew and Brian Chaplin, are related to Chaplin (their grandfather was Chaplin's first cousin).
- Hetty Kelly was Chaplin's first love, a dancer with whom he fell in love when she was fifteen and almost married when he was nineteen, in 1908. It is said Chaplin fell madly in love with her and asked her to marry him. When she refused, Chaplin suggested it would be best if they did not see each other again; he was reportedly crushed when she agreed. Years later, her memory would remain an obsession with Chaplin. He was devastated in 1921 when he learned that she had died of influenzaInfluenzaInfluenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae , that affects birds and mammals...
during the 1918 flu pandemic.
- Edna PurvianceEdna PurvianceEdna Purviance was an American actress during the silent movie era. She was the leading lady in many Charlie Chaplin movies. In a span of eight years, she appeared in over thirty films with Chaplin.-Early life:...
was Chaplin's first major leading lady after Mabel Normand. Purviance and Chaplin were involved in a close romantic relationship during the production of his Essanay and Mutual films in 1916–1917. The romance seems to have ended by 1918, and Chaplin's marriage to Mildred HarrisMildred HarrisMildred Harris was an American film actress. Harris began her career in the film industry as a popular child actress at age eleven. At the age of fifteen, she was cast as a harem girl in D. W. Griffith's Intolerance . She appeared as a leading lady through the 1920s but her career slowed with...
in late 1918 ended any possibility of reconciliation. Purviance would continue as leading lady in Chaplin's films until 1923, and would remain on Chaplin's payroll until her death in 1958. She and Chaplin spoke warmly of one another for the rest of their lives.
- Mildred HarrisMildred HarrisMildred Harris was an American film actress. Harris began her career in the film industry as a popular child actress at age eleven. At the age of fifteen, she was cast as a harem girl in D. W. Griffith's Intolerance . She appeared as a leading lady through the 1920s but her career slowed with...
: On 23 October 1918, Chaplin, age 29, married the popular child actress, Harris, who was 16 at the time. They had one son, Norman Spencer "The Little Mouse" Chaplin, born on 7 July 1919, who died three days later and is interred under the name The Little Mouse at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood California. Chaplin separated from Harris by late 1919, moving back into the Los Angeles Athletic ClubLos Angeles Athletic ClubLos Angeles Athletic Club is an athletic club and private social club in Los Angeles, California, USA. It awards the John R. Wooden Award to the outstanding men's and women's college basketball player of each year....
. The couple divorced in November 1920, with Harris getting some of their community property and a US$100,000 settlement. Chaplin admitted that he "was not in love, now that [he] was married [he] wanted to be and wanted the marriage to be a success." During the divorce, Chaplin claimed Harris had an affair with noted actress of the time Alla NazimovaAlla NazimovaAlla Nazimova , was a Russian American film and theatre actress, a screenwriter and film producer. She is perhaps best known as simply Nazimova, but also went under the name Alia Nasimoff.-Early life:...
, rumoured to be fond of seducing young actresses.
- Pola NegriPola NegriPola Negri was a Polish stage and film actress who achieved worldwide fame for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles from the 1910s through the 1940s during the Golden Era of Hollywood film. She was the first European film star to be invited to Hollywood, and became a great American star. She...
: Chaplin was involved in a very public relationship and engagement with the Polish actress, Negri, in 1922–23, after she arrived in Hollywood to star in films. The stormy on-off engagement was halted after about nine months, but in many ways it foreshadowed the modern stereotypes of Hollywood star relationships. Chaplin's public involvement with Negri was unique in his public life. By comparison he strove to keep his other romances during this period very discreet and private (usually without success). Many biographers have concluded the affair with Negri was largely for publicity purposes.
- Marion DaviesMarion DaviesMarion Davies was an American film actress. Davies is best remembered for her relationship with newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, as her high-profile social life often obscured her professional career....
: In 1924, during the time he was involved with the underage Lita GreyLita GreyLita Grey was an American actress and the second wife of Charlie Chaplin. She was born in Hollywood, California, in 1908, to a Mexican-born mother and a father of Irish heritage and christened Lillita Louise MacMurray.-Personal life:Grey married four times...
, Chaplin was rumoured to have had a fling with actress Davies, companion of William Randolph HearstWilliam Randolph HearstWilliam Randolph Hearst was an American business magnate and leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father...
. Davies and Chaplin were both present on Hearst's yacht the weekend preceding the mysterious death of Thomas Harper Ince. Charlie allegedly tried to persuade her to leave Hearst and remain with him, but she refused and stayed by Hearst's side until his death in 1951. Chaplin made a rare cameo appearance in Davies' 1928 film Show PeopleShow PeopleShow People is a 1928 comedy silent film directed by King Vidor. The movie was a starring vehicle for actress Marion Davies and actor William Haines and included notable cameo appearances by many of the film personalities of the day, including stars Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, William S....
, and by some accounts supposedly continued an affair with her until 1931.
- Lita GreyLita GreyLita Grey was an American actress and the second wife of Charlie Chaplin. She was born in Hollywood, California, in 1908, to a Mexican-born mother and a father of Irish heritage and christened Lillita Louise MacMurray.-Personal life:Grey married four times...
: Chaplin first met Grey during the filming of The Kid. Three years later, at age 35, he became involved with the then 16-year-old Grey during preparations for The Gold Rush in which she was to star as the female lead. They married on 26 November 1924, after she became pregnant (a development that resulted in her being removed from the cast of the film). They had two sons, the actors Charles Chaplin, Jr.Charles Chaplin, Jr.Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. was an American actor and the son of Charlie Chaplin.Chaplin was born in Beverly Hills, California. His mother was Charlie Chaplin's second wife, Mexican-American Lita Grey, and he was the elder brother of actor Sydney Chaplin...
(1925–1968) and Sydney Chaplin (1926–2009). The marriage was a disaster, with the couple hopelessly mismatched. The couple divorced on 22 August 1927. Their extraordinarily bitter divorce had Chaplin paying Grey a then-record-breaking US$825,000 settlement, on top of almost one million dollars in legal costs. The stress of the sensational divorce, compounded by a federal tax dispute, allegedly turned his hair white. The Chaplin biographer Joyce Milton asserted in Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin that the Grey-Chaplin marriage was the inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov's 1950s novel LolitaLolitaLolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, first written in English and published in 1955 in Paris and 1958 in New York, and later translated by the author into Russian...
- Merna KennedyMerna KennedyMerna Kennedy was an American actress of the late silent era.-Short career:Kennedy was best-known during her brief career for her role opposite Charlie Chaplin in the silent film The Circus .Kennedy was brought to the attention of Chaplin by her friend Lita Grey, who became Chaplin's second wife...
: Lita Grey's friend, Kennedy was a dancer who Chaplin hired as the lead actress in The Circus (1928). It is rumoured that the two had an affair during shooting. Grey used the rumoured infidelity in her divorce proceedings.
- Georgia HaleGeorgia HaleGeorgia Hale was an actress of the silent movie era.-Career:Georgia Theodora Hale was Miss Chicago 1922 and competed in the Miss America Pageant...
was Lita Grey's replacement on The Gold Rush. In the documentary series, Unknown ChaplinUnknown ChaplinUnknown Chaplin is an acclaimed three-part 1983 British television documentary about the career and the methods of the film luminary Charles Chaplin using previously unseen film for illustration....
, (directed and written by film historians Kevin BrownlowKevin BrownlowKevin Brownlow is a filmmaker, film historian, television documentary-maker, author, and Academy Award recipient. Brownlow is best known for his work documenting the history of the silent era. Brownlow became interested in silent film at the age of eleven. This interest grew into a career spent...
and David GillDavid Gill (film historian)David Ian Gill was born in Papua New Guinea, the son of Cecil Gill, a missionary doctor. His uncle was the sculptor Eric Gill. The family returned to England in 1933 where Gill attended the Belmont Abbey School, Hereford...
), Hale, in a 1980s interview states that she had idolised Chaplin since childhood and that the then-19-year-old actress and Chaplin began an affair that continued for several years, which she details in her memoir, Charlie Chaplin: Intimate Close-Ups. During production of Chaplin's film City LightsCity LightsCity Lights is a 1931 American silent film and romantic comedy-drama written by, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin. It also has the leads Virginia Cherrill and Harry Myers. Although "talking" pictures were on the rise since 1928, City Lights was immediately popular. Today, it is thought of...
in 1929–30, Hale, who by then was Chaplin's closest companion, was called in to replace Virginia CherrillVirginia CherrillVirginia Cherrill was an American actress best known for her role as the blind flower girl in Charlie Chaplin's City Lights...
as the flower girl. Seven minutes of test footage survives from this recasting, and is included on the 2003 DVD release of the film, but economics forced Chaplin to rehire Cherrill. In discussing the situation in Unknown Chaplin, Hale states that her relationship with Chaplin was as strong as ever during filming. Their romance apparently ended sometime after Chaplin's return from his world tour in 1933.
- Louise BrooksLouise BrooksMary Louise Brooks , generally known by her stage name Louise Brooks, was an American dancer, model, showgirl and silent film actress, noted for popularizing the bobbed haircut. Brooks is best known for her three feature roles including two G. W...
was a chorine in the Ziegfeld FolliesZiegfeld FolliesThe Ziegfeld Follies were a series of elaborate theatrical productions on Broadway in New York City from 1907 through 1931. They became a radio program in 1932 and 1936 as The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air....
when she met Chaplin. He had gone to New York for the opening there of The Gold Rush. For two months in the summer of 1925, the two cavorted together at the Ritz, and with film financier A.C. Blumenthal and Brooks' fellow Ziegfeld girlZiegfeld girlZiegfeld Girls were the chorus girls from Florenz Ziegfeld's theatrical spectaculars known as the Ziegfeld Follies , which were based on the Folies Bergère of Paris....
Peggy FearsPeggy FearsPeggy Fears was an American actress, who appeared in Broadway musical comedies during the 1920s and 1930s before becoming a Broadway producer.-Theater:Leaving New Orleans at the age of 16, she attended the Semple School...
in Blumenthal's penthouse suite at the Ambassador Hotel. Brooks was with Chaplin when he spent four hours watching a musician torture a violin in a Lower East SideLower East SideThe Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....
restaurant, an act he would recreate in Limelight.
- May Reeves was originally hired to be Chaplin's secretary on his 1931–1932 extended trip to Europe, dealing mostly with reading his personal correspondence. She worked only one morning, and then was introduced to Chaplin, who was instantly infatuated with her. May became his constant companion and lover on the trip, much to the disgust of Chaplin's brother, Syd. After Reeves also became involved with Syd, Chaplin ended the relationship and she left his entourage. Reeves chronicled her short time with Chaplin in her book, "The Intimate Charlie Chaplin".
- Paulette GoddardPaulette GoddardPaulette Goddard was an American film and theatre actress. A former child fashion model and in several Broadway productions as Ziegfeld Girl, she was a major star of the Paramount Studio in the 1940s. She was married to several notable men, including Charlie Chaplin, Burgess Meredith, and Erich...
: Chaplin and actress Goddard were involved in a romantic and professional relationship between 1932 and 1940, with Goddard living with Chaplin in his Beverly Hills home for most of this time. Chaplin gave her starring roles in Modern Times and The Great Dictator. Refusal to clarify their marital status is often claimed to have eliminated Goddard from final consideration for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the WindGone with the Wind (film)Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It was produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Victor Fleming from a screenplay by Sidney Howard...
. After the relationship ended in 1940, Chaplin and Goddard made public statements that they had been secretly married in 1936; but these claims were likely a mutual effort to prevent any lasting damage to Goddard's career. In any case, their relationship ended amicably in 1942, with Goddard being granted a settlement. Goddard went on to a major career in films at Paramount in the 1940s, working several times with Cecil B. DeMilleCecil B. DeMilleCecil Blount DeMille was an American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films. He was renowned for the flamboyance and showmanship of his movies...
. Like Chaplin, she lived her later life in Switzerland, dying in 1990.
- Joan BarryJoan Barry (American actress)Joan Barry was an American actress who was at the center of a paternity suit with Charlie Chaplin in 1943.-Biography:Born as Mary Louise Gribble, her father, Jim Gribble, committed suicide before her birth...
(1920–1996): In 1942, Chaplin had a brief affair with Barry, whom he was considering for a starring role in a proposed film, but the relationship ended when she began harassing him and displaying signs of severe mental illness (not unlike his mother). Chaplin's brief involvement with Barry proved to be a nightmare for him. After having a child, she filed a paternity suit against him in 1943. Although blood tests proved Chaplin was not the father of Barry's child, Barry's attorney, Joseph ScottJoseph Scott (attorney)Joseph Scott was a prominent British-born attorney and community leader in Los Angeles, California. His service to the community was so varied and important that he earned the nickname "Mr. Los Angeles."-Early life:...
, convinced the court that the tests were inadmissible as evidence, and Chaplin was ordered to support the child. The injustice of the ruling later led to a change in California law to allow blood tests as evidence. Federal prosecutors also brought Mann ActMann ActThe White-Slave Traffic Act, better known as the Mann Act, is a United States law, passed June 25, 1910 . It is named after Congressman James Robert Mann, and in its original form prohibited white slavery and the interstate transport of females for “immoral purposes”...
charges against Chaplin related to Barry in 1944, of which he was acquitted. Chaplin's public image in America was gravely damaged by these sensational trials. Barry was institutionalised in 1953 after she was found walking the streets barefoot, carrying a pair of baby sandals and a child's ring, and murmuring: "This is magic". Chaplin's second wife, Lita Grey, later asserted that Chaplin had paid corrupt government officials to tamper with the blood test results. She further stated that "there is no doubt that she [Carol Ann] was his child."
- Oona O'NeillOona O'NeillOona, Lady Chaplin was the daughter of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Eugene O'Neill and writer Agnes Boulton, and the wife of British actor, director and producer Charlie Chaplin....
: During Chaplin's legal trouble over the Barry affair, he met O'Neill, daughter of Eugene O'NeillEugene O'NeillEugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish...
, and married her on 16 June 1943. He was fifty-four; she had just turned eighteen. The marriage produced eight children; their last child, Christopher, was born when Chaplin was 73 years old. Oona survived Chaplin by fourteen years, and died from pancreatic cancerPancreatic cancerPancreatic cancer refers to a malignant neoplasm of the pancreas. The most common type of pancreatic cancer, accounting for 95% of these tumors is adenocarcinoma, which arises within the exocrine component of the pancreas. A minority arises from the islet cells and is classified as a...
|Child||Birth||Death|| Chaplin's age
at time of birth
|Norman Spencer Chaplin||7 July 1919||10 July 1919||
|| Mildred Harris
Mildred Harris was an American film actress. Harris began her career in the film industry as a popular child actress at age eleven. At the age of fifteen, she was cast as a harem girl in D. W. Griffith's Intolerance . She appeared as a leading lady through the 1920s but her career slowed with...
| Charles Spencer Chaplin, Jr.
Charles Chaplin, Jr.
Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. was an American actor and the son of Charlie Chaplin.Chaplin was born in Beverly Hills, California. His mother was Charlie Chaplin's second wife, Mexican-American Lita Grey, and he was the elder brother of actor Sydney Chaplin...
|5 May 1925||20 March 1968||
Lita Grey was an American actress and the second wife of Charlie Chaplin. She was born in Hollywood, California, in 1908, to a Mexican-born mother and a father of Irish heritage and christened Lillita Louise MacMurray.-Personal life:Grey married four times...
|Susan Maree Chaplin (b 1959)|
|Sydney Earle Chaplin||31 March 1926||3 March 2009||
||Stephan Chaplin (b 19xx)|
|Carol Ann Barry Chaplin (Disputed)||2 October 1943||
|| Joan Barry
Joan Barry (American actress)
Joan Barry was an American actress who was at the center of a paternity suit with Charlie Chaplin in 1943.-Biography:Born as Mary Louise Gribble, her father, Jim Gribble, committed suicide before her birth...
| Geraldine Leigh Chaplin
Geraldine Leigh Chaplin is an English-American actress and the daughter of Charlie Chaplin.Chaplin first came to prominence for her Golden Globe-nominated role of Tonya in David Lean's Doctor Zhivago . She received her second Golden Globe nomination for Robert Altman's Nashville...
|31 July 1944||
Oona, Lady Chaplin was the daughter of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Eugene O'Neill and writer Agnes Boulton, and the wife of British actor, director and producer Charlie Chaplin....
| Shane Saura Chaplin (b 1974)
Oona Castilla Chaplin
Oona Castilla Chaplin
Oona Castilla Chaplin is a Spanish actress, flamenco dancer, and ballerina. She is also the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, and uses the stage name Oona Chaplin.- Personal life :...
|Michael John Chaplin||7 March 1946||
|| Kathleen Chaplin (b. 1975)
Dolores Chaplin (b. 1979)
Carmen Chaplin is an actress, who belongs to the family of Charlie Chaplin.-Family:Carmen Chaplin is an English multicultural actress, director and writer....
George Chaplin (b 19xx)
| Josephine Hannah Chaplin
Josephine Hannah Chaplin is an actress and the daughter of actor/comedian/director Charlie Chaplin and his last wife, Oona O'Neill. Her siblings include Geraldine Chaplin, Christopher Chaplin and Michael Chaplin. She was also half-sister to Sydney Chaplin, Charles Chaplin, Jr...
|28 March 1949||
||Julien Ronet (b. 1980)|
| Victoria Chaplin
Victoria Chaplin is an Anglo-American actress, the daughter of actor/comedian Charlie Chaplin and Oona O'Neill Chaplin, and the granddaughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill....
|19 May 1951||
|| Aurélia Thiérrée (b. 1971)
James Thiérrée is the writer, director and star of The Junebug Symphony, La Veillée des Abysses and Au Revoir Parapluie ....
| Eugene Anthony Chaplin
Eugene Chaplin is a Swiss recording engineer and documentary filmmaker. He is the president of the International Comedy Film Festival of Vevey, Switzerland...
|23 August 1953||
|| Kiera Chaplin
Kiera Chaplin is a Northern Irish-born British actress and model, a granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and a great-granddaughter of Eugene O'Neill.-Biography:...
|Jane Cecil Chaplin||23 May 1957||
||Orson Salkind (b. 1986)
Osceola Salkind (b. 1994)
|Annette Emily Chaplin||3 December 1959||
| Christopher James Chaplin
Christopher James Chaplin is a composer and actor who appeared in the film Total Eclipse as the character Charles Cros, as well as in other roles. However, he is best known for being the youngest son of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O'Neill...
|6 July 1962||
Awards and recognitionChaplin was knighted in 1975 at the age of 85 as a Knight Commander of the British Empire
(KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. The honour had been first proposed in 1931. Knighthood was suggested again in 1956, but was vetoed after a Foreign Office
report raised concerns over Chaplin's purported "communist" views and his moral behaviour in marrying two 16-year-old girls; it was felt that honouring him would damage both the reputation of the British honours system
and relations with the United States.
Among other recognitions, Chaplin was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
in 1970; that he had not been among those originally honoured in 1961 caused some controversy. Chaplin's Swiss mansion is to be opened as a museum tracing his life from the music halls in London to Hollywood fame.
A statue of Charlie Chaplin was made by John Doubleday
, to stand in Leicester Square
in London. It was unveiled by Sir Ralph Richardson
A bronze statue of him is at Waterville, County Kerry
Academy AwardsChaplin received three Academy Awards in his lifetime: one for Best Original Score
, and two Honorary Awards
. However, during his active years as a filmmaker, Chaplin expressed disdain for the Academy Awards; his son Charles Jr wrote that Chaplin invoked the ire of the Academy in the 1930s by jokingly using his 1929 Oscar as a doorstop. This may help explain why City Lights
and Modern Times
, considered by several polls to be two of the greatest of all motion pictures, were not nominated for a single Academy Award.
- The 1st Academy Awards ceremony: When the first Oscars were awarded on 16 May 1929, the voting audit procedures that now exists had not yet been put into place, and the categories were still very fluid. Chaplin's The Circus was set to be heavily recognised, as Chaplin had originally been nominated for Best ProductionAcademy Award for Best PictureThe Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only...
, Best Director in a Comedy Picture, Best ActorAcademy Award for Best ActorPerformance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...
and Best Writing (Original Story)Academy Award for Best StoryThe Academy Award for Best Story was an Academy Award given from the beginning of the Academy Awards until 1957, when it was eliminated in favor of the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay, which had been introduced in 1940.-1920s:...
. However, the Academy decided to withdraw his name from all the competitive categories and instead give him a Special Award "for versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus". The only other film to receive a Special Award that year was The Jazz SingerThe Jazz Singer (1927 film)The Jazz Singer is a 1927 American musical film. The first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences, its release heralded the commercial ascendance of the "talkies" and the decline of the silent film era. Produced by Warner Bros. with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system,...
- The 13th Academy Awards ceremony: In 1941, The Great DictatorThe Great DictatorThe Great Dictator is a comedy film by Charlie Chaplin released in October 1940. Like most Chaplin films, he wrote, produced, and directed, in addition to starring as the lead. Having been the only Hollywood film maker to continue to make silent films well into the period of sound films, this was...
was nominated for five awards, including two for Chaplin: Best Writing and Best Actor. Chaplin lost out on both counts. For writing, he lost to Preston SturgesPreston SturgesPreston Sturges , originally Edmund Preston Biden, was a celebrated playwright, screenwriter and film director born in Chicago, Illinois...
for The Great McGintyThe Great McGintyThe Great McGinty is a 1940 political satire comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, starring Brian Donlevy and Akim Tamiroff and featuring William Demarest and Muriel Angelus. It was Sturges's first film as a director; he sold the story to Paramount Pictures for just $10 on condition...
, and for acting to James StewartJames StewartJames Stewart was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart may also refer to:-Noblemen:*James Stewart, 5th High Steward of Scotland*James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn James Stewart (1908–1997) was a Hollywood movie actor and USAF brigadier general.James Stewart...
for The Philadelphia Story.
- The 20th Academy Awards ceremony: In 1948, Chaplin's screenplay for Monsieur VerdouxMonsieur VerdouxMonsieur Verdoux is a 1947 black comedy film directed by and starring Charles Chaplin. The supporting cast includes Martha Raye, William Frawley, and Marilyn Nash.-Plot:...
was nominated, but the award went instead to Sidney SheldonSidney SheldonSidney Sheldon was an Academy Award-winning American writer. His TV works spanned a 20-year period during which he created The Patty Duke Show , I Dream of Jeannie and Hart to Hart , but he became most famous after he turned 50 and began writing best-selling novels such as Master of the Game ,...
for The Bachelor and the Bobby-SoxerThe Bachelor and the Bobby-SoxerThe Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is a 1947 American screwball comedy film directed by Irving Reis. The screenplay was written by Sidney Sheldon. The film stars Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Shirley Temple in a story about a teenager's crush on an older man. The film was a critical success...
- The 44th Academy Awards ceremony: Chaplin's second Oscar was awarded forty-three years after his first, in 1972. Chaplin came out of exile to accept the Honorary Award for "the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century". Stepping onto the stage of the Dorothy Chandler PavilionDorothy Chandler PavilionThe Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is one of the halls in the Los Angeles Music Center . The Music Center's other halls include the Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre, and Walt Disney Concert Hall.The Pavilion has 3,197 seats spread over four tiers, with chandeliers, wide curving stairways and rich décor...
, Chaplin received the longest standing ovationStanding ovationA standing ovation is a form of applause where members of a seated audience stand up while applauding after extraordinary performances of particularly high acclaim...
in Academy Award history, lasting a full twelve minutes.
- The 45th Academy Awards ceremony: In 1973, Chaplin's film Limelight was honoured with an Oscar for Best Original ScoreAcademy Award for Best Original ScoreThe Academy Award for Original Score is presented to the best substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the film by the submitting composer.-Superlatives:...
. Though the film had originally been released in 1952, due to Chaplin's political difficulties at the time, the film did not play for one week in Los Angeles, and thus did not meet the criterion for nomination until it was re-released in 1972.
Chaplin's American business partner, who helped promote and release his films in the U.S., was Mo Rothman
(1919- 2011). Rothman is also credited
with urging Chaplin to end his self-imposed exile and visit the U.S. to appear and be honored both by the Lincoln Center Film Society in New York and then at Hollywood's Academy Awards in 1972.
's 1916 comic strip "Charlie Chaplin's Comedy Capers" is an early example. Segar's 'Chaplin' comics would later be collected in 1917 into five books, precursors of the later comic book format. Two different animated cartoon series also starred 'Charlie' a tramp character, the first a series of nine shorts from 1916 by Movca Film Service. And later ten films by the Pat Sullivan Studio
from 1918–1919, which would later use the 'Charlie/Charley' gestures to create Felix the Cat
, the character made one later appearance in one of Felix's 1923 cartoons "Felix in Hollywood".
- From 1917 to 1918, silent film actor Billy WestBilly West (silent film actor)Billy West was a film actor, producer, and director of the silent film era. He is best known as a Charlie Chaplin impersonator....
made more than 20 films as a comedian precisely imitating Chaplin's tramp character, makeup and costume.
- The third of composer Karl Amadeus HartmannKarl Amadeus HartmannKarl Amadeus Hartmann was a German composer. Some have lauded him as the greatest German symphonist of the 20th century, although he is now largely overlooked, particularly in English-speaking countries.-Life:...
's 1929–30 composition Wachsfigurenkabinett: Fünf kleine Opern (Waxworks: Five Little Operas) is entitled 'Chaplin-Ford-Trot', and features the character of Charlie Chaplin (in a speaking rather than operatic role).
- Shree 420 and AwaaraAwaaraAwaara is a 1951 Hindi film directed and produced by Raj Kapoor who also plays the leading role. His real-life father Prithviraj Kapoor stars as his on-screen father Judge Raghunath. Kapoor's youngest real-life brother Shashi Kapoor plays the younger version of his character...
main characters are heavily influenced by The Tramp.
- Kamal HaasanKamal HaasanKamal Haasan is an Indian film actor, screenwriter and director, considered to be one of the leading method actors of Indian cinema. He is widely acclaimed as an actor and is well known for his versatility in acting...
moulded his character "Chaplin Chellappa" on Chaplin in the Tamil film Punnagai MannanPunnagai MannanPunnagai Mannan is a 1986 Tamil language film starring Kamal Haasan in the lead role of the protagonist. The film was directed by K. Balachander.-Cast:Kamal Haasan Sethu/Chaplin ChellapaRevathi Malini...
- In 1985, Chaplin was honoured with his image on a postage stamp of the United Kingdom, and in 1994 he appeared on a United States postage stamp designed by caricaturist Al HirschfeldAl HirschfeldAlbert "Al" Hirschfeld was an American caricaturist best known for his simple black and white portraits of celebrities and Broadway stars.-Personal life:Born in St...
- John WooJohn WooJohn Woo Yu-Sen SBS is a Hong Kong-based film director and producer. Recognized for his stylised films of highly choreographed action sequences, Mexican standoffs, and use of slow-motion, Woo has directed several notable Hong Kong action films, among them, A Better Tomorrow, The Killer, Hard...
directed a parody film of Chaplin's "The Kid" called Hua ji shi dai (1981), also known as "Laughing Times."
- A minor planetMinor planetAn asteroid group or minor-planet group is a population of minor planets that have a share broadly similar orbits. Members are generally unrelated to each other, unlike in an asteroid family, which often results from the break-up of a single asteroid...
, 3623 Chaplin3623 Chaplin3623 Chaplin is a main-belt asteroid discovered on October 4, 1981 by Karachkina, L. G. at Nauchnyj. The asteroid is named in honour of actor and director Charlie Chaplin.- External links :...
, discovered by SovietSoviet UnionThe Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....
astronomer Lyudmila Karachkina in 1981, is named after Chaplin.
- In 1992, a film was made about Chaplin's life entitled Chaplin, directed by Oscar-winner Richard AttenboroughRichard AttenboroughRichard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough , CBE is a British actor, director, producer and entrepreneur. As director and producer he won two Academy Awards for the 1982 film Gandhi...
, and starring Robert Downey, Jr., in an Oscar-nominated performance, and Geraldine ChaplinGeraldine ChaplinGeraldine Leigh Chaplin is an English-American actress and the daughter of Charlie Chaplin.Chaplin first came to prominence for her Golden Globe-nominated role of Tonya in David Lean's Doctor Zhivago . She received her second Golden Globe nomination for Robert Altman's Nashville...
playing the part of Charlie Chaplin's mother, her own grandmother.
- In 2001, British comedian Eddie IzzardEddie IzzardEdward John "Eddie" Izzard is a British stand-up comedian and actor. His comedy style takes the form of rambling, whimsical monologue and self-referential pantomime...
played Chaplin in Peter BogdanovichPeter BogdanovichPeter Bogdanovich is an American film historian, director, writer, actor, producer, and critic. He was part of the wave of "New Hollywood" directors, which included William Friedkin, Brian De Palma, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Michael Cimino, and Francis Ford Coppola...
's film, The Cat's MeowThe Cat's MeowThe Cat's Meow is a 2001 drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, and starring Kirsten Dunst, Eddie Izzard, Edward Herrmann, Cary Elwes, Joanna Lumley, and Jennifer Tilly. The screenplay by Steven Peros is based on his play of the same title, which was inspired by the mysterious death of film...
, which speculated about the still-unsolved death of producer Thomas H. InceThomas H. InceThomas Harper Ince was an American silent film actor, director, screenwriter and producer of more than 100 films and pioneering studio mogul. Known as the "Father of the Western", he invented many mechanisms of professional movie production, introducing early Hollywood to the "assembly line"...
during a yachting party thrown by William Randolph HearstWilliam Randolph HearstWilliam Randolph Hearst was an American business magnate and leading newspaper publisher. Hearst entered the publishing business in 1887, after taking control of The San Francisco Examiner from his father...
, of which Chaplin was a guest.
- In 2010 the New York Guitar FestivalNew York Guitar FestivalThe New York Guitar Festival is a music festival founded by radio host and author John Schaefer and musician, producer and curator David Spelman, who serves at the festival's Artistic Director...
commissioned a number of contemporary artists to compose new scores for some of Chaplin's silent films. The artists included Justin Vernon of Bon IverBon IverBon Iver is a Grammy nominated folk band founded in 2007 by American indie folk singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. It includes Michael Noyce, Sean Carey, and Matthew McCaughan. Vernon released Bon Iver's debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago independently in July 2007. The majority of that album was...
, Marc RibotMarc RibotMarc Ribot born May 21, 1954) is an American guitarist and composer.His own work has touched on many styles, including no wave, free jazz, and Cuban music. Ribot is also known for collaborating with other musicians, most notably Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and composer John Zorn.-Biography:Ribot was...
, David BrombergDavid BrombergDavid Bromberg is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter. Bromberg has an eclectic style, playing bluegrass, blues, folk, jazz, country and western, and rock and roll equally well. He is known for his quirky, humorous lyrics, and the ability to play rhythm and lead guitar at the...
, Alex de GrassiAlex de GrassiAlex de Grassi is an American Grammy Award-nominated fingerstyle guitarist.-Early life and influences:Though born in Yokosuka, Japan, de Grassi grew up in San Francisco, California, where his grandfather played violin for the San Francisco Symphony and his father was a classical pianist...
and Chicha Libre.
- On 15 April 2011, a day before his 122nd birthday anniversary, GoogleGoogle Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...
celebrated this with a special Google Doodle video on its global and other country-wide homepages.
Filmography and current rights issuesChaplin wrote, directed, and starred in dozens of feature films and short subject
s. Highlights include The Immigrant
(1917), The Gold Rush
(1925), City Lights
(1931), Modern Times
(1936), and The Great Dictator
(1940), all of which have been selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry
. Three of these films made the AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies and AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) lists: The Gold Rush, City Lights, and Modern Times.
A listing of the dozens of Chaplin films and alternate versions can be found in the Ted Okuda
-David Maska book Charlie Chaplin at Keystone and Essanay: Dawn of the Tramp. Thanks to The Chaplin Keystone Project, efforts to produce definitive versions of Chaplin's pre-1918 short films have come to a successful end: after ten years of research and clinical international cooperation work, 34 Keystone films have been fully restored and published in October 2010 on a 4-DVD box set. All twelve Mutual films were restored in 1975 by archivist David Shepard and Blackhawk Films
, and new restorations with even more footage were released on DVD in 2006.
Today, nearly all of Chaplin's output is owned by Roy Export S.A.S. in Paris, which enforces the library's copyrights and decides how and when this material can be released. French company MK2 acts as worldwide distribution agent for the Export company. In the U.S. as of 2010, distribution is handled under license by Janus Films
, with home video releases from Criterion Collection
, affiliated with Janus.
- Charles Chaplin: My AutobiographyMy Autobiography (Chaplin)My Autobiography is the title of a book by screen legend Charlie Chaplin, first published by Simon & Schuster in 1964. Along with Chaplin: His Life and Art, it provided the source material for the 1992 feature film Chaplin. It is a revealing work into the life of a 20th century celebrity....
. Simon & Schuster, 1964.
- Charles Chaplin: Die Geschichte meines Lebens. Fischer-Verlag, 1964. (germ.)
- Charlie Chaplin Die Wurzeln meiner Komik in: Jüdische Allgemeine Wochenzeitung, 3 March 1967, gekürzt: wieder ebd. 12.4. 2006, S. 54 (germ.)
- Chaplin: A LifeChaplin: A LifeChaplin: A Life is a 2008 biography of the actor Charlie Chaplin by American psychoanalyst Stephen M. Weissman. The book examines young Chaplin's early childhood experiences and the formative role they later played in shaping his art...
by Stephen Weissman Arcade Publishing 2008.
- Charles Chaplin: My Life in Pictures. Bodley Head, 1974.
- Alistair CookeAlistair CookeAlfred Alistair Cooke KBE was a British/American journalist, television personality and broadcaster. Outside his journalistic output, which included Letter from America and Alistair Cooke's America, he was well known in the United States as the host of PBS Masterpiece Theater from 1971 to 1992...
: Six Men. Harmondsworth, 1978.
- S. Frind: Die Sprache als Propagandainstrument des Nationalsozialismus, in: Muttersprache, 76. Jg., 1966, S. 129–135. (germ.)
- Georgia HaleGeorgia HaleGeorgia Hale was an actress of the silent movie era.-Career:Georgia Theodora Hale was Miss Chicago 1922 and competed in the Miss America Pageant...
, Charlie Chaplin: Intimate Close-UpsCharlie Chaplin: Intimate Close-UpsCharlie Chaplin: Intimate Close-Ups is a memoir by the American actress Georgia Hale which was written in the 1960s. Ten years after Hale's 1985 death, Heather Kiernan edited the manuscript and it was published in 1995 by The Scarecrow Press with a second edition published in 1999.Georgia Hale was...
, edited by Heather Kiernan. LanhamLanham, MarylandLanham is an unincorporated community in Prince George's County in the State of Maryland in the United States of America. Because it is not formally incorporated, it has no official boundaries, but the United States Census Bureau has defined a census-designated place consisting of Lanham and the...
: Scarecrow Press, 1995 and 1999. ISBN 978-1-57886-004-3 (1999 edition).
- Victor KlempererVictor KlempererVictor Klemperer was a businessman, journalist and eventually a Professor of Literature, specialising in the French Enlightenment at the Technische Universität Dresden. His diaries detailing his life under successive German states—the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany and the German...
: LTI – Notizbuch eines Philologen. Leipzig: Reclam, 1990. ISBN 978-3-379-00125-0; Frankfurt am Main (19. A.) 2004 (germ.)
- Charlie Chaplin at Keystone and Essanay: Dawn of the Tramp, Ted OkudaTed OkudaTed Okuda is an American non-fiction author and film historian. He has many books and magazine features to his credit, under his own name and in collaboration with others.-Career:...
& David Maska. iUniverse, New York, 2005.
- Chaplin: His Life and ArtChaplin: His Life and ArtChaplin: His Life and Art is a 1985 book by film critic David Robinson which examines the life and works of film legend Charlie Chaplin. Along with My Autobiography, it was used as source material for the 1992 film Chaplin....
, David Robinson. McGraw-Hill, second edition 2001.
- Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema, Jeffrey Vance. Abrams, New York, 2003. ISBN 978-0-8109-4532-6
- Charlie Chaplin: A Photo Diary, Michel Comte & Sam Stourdze. Steidl, first edition, hardcover, 359pp, ISBN 978-3-88243-792-8, 2002.
- Chaplin in Pictures, Sam Stourdze (ed.), texts by Patrice Blouin, Christian Delage and Sam Stourdze, NBC Editions, ISBN 978-2-913986-03-9, 2005.
- Double Exposure: Charlie Chaplin as Author and Celebrity, Jonathan Goldman. M/C Journal 7.5.
- Charlie Chaplin's World of Comedy, Wes D. Gehring, 1980.
- Charlie Chaplin Website
- Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival Website
- The Charlie Chaplin Archive
- Chaplin A Life: 40 Photo-Essays
- Films by, about or starring Charlie Chaplin at the Internet ArchiveInternet ArchiveThe Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...
- Obituary, NY Times, 26 December 1977 Chaplin's Little Tramp, an Everyman Trying to Gild Cage of Life, Enthralled World
- The TIME 100: Charlie Chaplin Archived, May 2011. site dedicated to Paulette Goddard