Charlie Chaplin
English actor and director
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was a British comic actor and filmmaker. Chaplin was one of the most influential figures of the silent era, whose screen character "The Tramp" became a global phenomenon and remains one of cinema's most iconic images. His career in entertainment spanned more than 75 years, from Victorian music hall until close to his death at the age of 88. Chaplin's high-profile public and private life encompassed both adulation and controversy.
Charlie Chaplin's personal information overview.
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Bowler hats doffed in tribute to Chaplin - Irish Independent
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They doffed their bowler hats and swirled their walking canes to salute the legendary Charlie Chaplin who made Waterville his second home during his long off-screen life. And it was another Charlie that led the celebrations with RTE's Mr Bird launching
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Ben Stiller Wins BAFTA/LA's Britannia Award for Comedy - Reuters
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The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles has named Ben Stiller recipient of the Charlie Chaplin Britannia Award for Excellence in Comedy, BAFTA Los Angeles announced on Tuesday. In the spirit of Stiller's
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'The Accidental Waiter' celebrates Chaplin's tramp in modern times - Kansas City Star
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Damian Blake is so accomplished a Charlie Chaplin impersonator that watching him is a little unsettling — as if the Little Tramp had somehow been projected through time and space into the here and now. Blake's skills dovetail beautifully with “The
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Cheers & Jeers: Oona Chaplin — The Other Woman of The Hour - TV Guide
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If the actress' moniker sounds familiar, it's because she's the namesake granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin's scandalously much-younger wife. Her showbiz bloodlines extend to mother Geraldine Chaplin (Nashville), great grandfather Eugene O'Neill and
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Bengali director takes on Chaplin impersonators in new film -
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PTI Tollywood actor Rudranil Ghosh is set to portray the character of a Charlie Chaplin impersonator in the upcoming Bengali film of the same name, directed by Anindo Bandopadhyay. "Chaplin is the reference point in the film, which is about street
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Oona Chaplin Joins Game Of Thrones Season 2 as Jeyne Westerling - Comic Book Movie
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Charlie Chaplin's Granddaughter was rumored to be up for a role in the second season of HBO's fantasy series for a while and now we can confirm that she has been cast as Jeyne, love interest to Robb Stark.. Filming has been underway for a few weeks in
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Charlie Chaplin's former home is for sale - Los Angeles Times
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A Spanish-style house built for Charlie Chaplin in the Sunset Strip area is for sale at $1725000. The restored and updated 1926 residence was owned by actor Robert Downey Jr. in the 1990s and, later, reality TV star
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Out and About: Charlie Chaplin Film Discovered; Vampires and Jews - Forward (blog)
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“Zepped,” a rare Charlie Chaplin film made as First World War propaganda, was discovered by an unemployed man in an English junk shop. Allan Nadler discusses the significance of the 1897 publication of Bram Stoker's “Dracula” and its anti-Semitic
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Step up bedroom activity with age - Times of India
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Charlie Chaplin fathered his 12th child at the age of 73. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, at 62, has a notoriously active sex-life - the former MD of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stands accused of sexual assault. "So growing old," says sexologist
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Playing backup to Charlie Chaplin - Boston Globe
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Marc Ribot will perform during the screening of Charlie Chaplin's 1921 silent movie “The Kid'' tonight at Mass MoCA. Below: Chaplin and costar Jackie Coogan in “The Kid.'' (Marco Zanoni/File 2006) By Jeremy D. Goodwin Marc Ribot doesn't want to be
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Charlie Chaplin 'lost film' fails to sell at auction - Digital Spy
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The 1916 short film, titled Charlie Chaplin in 'Zepped', was apparently edited from outtakes of previous Chaplin shorts to boost support for England's involvement in World War I and it is unclear if the silent film star even knew the movie existed
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Kojima likens game industry's challenges to Charlie Chaplin - Joystiq
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... 9:45PM When asked about cultural expression in games, Kojima said that developers now have "more capability for expression" than ever, likening the situation to a similar story-telling crossroad that challenged silent-film giant Charlie Chaplin
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No Buyer for Chaplin Film at Auction - New York Times (blog)
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Tom Macdonald/Bonhams, via European Pressphoto AgencyA copy of frames from the 35mm nitrate film of “Zepped,” a propaganda film made in Britain during World War I with Charlie Chaplin. When it comes to motion pictures, Charlie Chaplin ... - -
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Sacha Baron Cohen's Dictator gives Charlie Chaplin a comedy salute - The Guardian (blog)
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Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator (left) and Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator. Photograph: Allstar Vulnerability is not Sacha Baron Cohen's strong suit, but he is at a vulnerable point right now. Too famous to pull off the gonzo-prank format he
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Charlie Chaplin
  • 1977
    Age 87
    His career spanned more than 75 years, from childhood in the Victorian era until a year before his death in 1977, and encompassed both adulation and controversy.
    More Details Hide Details Chaplin's childhood in London was one of poverty and hardship. As his father was absent and his mother struggled financially, he was sent to a workhouse twice before the age of nine. When he was 14, his mother was committed to a mental asylum. Chaplin began performing at an early age, touring music halls and later working as a stage actor and comedian. At 19 he was signed to the prestigious Fred Karno company, which took him to America. Chaplin was scouted for the film industry, and began appearing in 1914 for Keystone Studios. He soon developed the Tramp persona and formed a large fan base. Chaplin directed his own films from an early stage, and continued to hone his craft as he moved to the Essanay, Mutual, and First National corporations. By 1918, he was one of the best known figures in the world.
    In the early morning of 25 December 1977, Chaplin died at home after suffering a stroke in his sleep.
    More Details Hide Details He was 88 years old. The funeral, on 27 December, was a small and private Anglican ceremony, according to his wishes. Chaplin was interred in the Corsier-sur-Vevey cemetery. Among the film industry's tributes, director René Clair wrote, "He was a monument of the cinema, of all countries and all times... the most beautiful gift the cinema made to us." Actor Bob Hope declared, "We were lucky to have lived in his time." On 1 March 1978, Chaplin's coffin was dug up and stolen from its grave by two unemployed immigrants, Roman Wardas, from Poland, and Gantcho Ganev, from Bulgaria. The body was held for ransom in an attempt to extort money from Oona Chaplin. The pair were caught in a large police operation in May, and Chaplin's coffin was found buried in a field in the nearby village of Noville. It was re-interred in the Corsier cemetery surrounded by reinforced concrete.
    By October 1977, Chaplin's health had declined to the point that he needed constant care.
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  • 1975
    Age 85
    In the 1975 New Year Honours, Chaplin was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II, though he was too weak to kneel and received the honour in his wheelchair.
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  • 1973
    Age 83
    Chaplin also received his only competitive Oscar for his composition work, as the Limelight theme won an Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1973 following the film's re-release.
    More Details Hide Details In 1998, the film critic Andrew Sarris called Chaplin "arguably the single most important artist produced by the cinema, certainly its most extraordinary performer and probably still its most universal icon". He is described by the British Film Institute as "a towering figure in world culture", and was included in Time magazine's list of the "100 Most Important People of the 20th Century" for the "laughter brought to millions" and because he "more or less invented global recognizability and helped turn an industry into an art". The image of the Tramp has become a part of cultural history; according to Simon Louvish, the character is recognisable to people who have never seen a Chaplin film, and in places where his films are never shown. The critic Leonard Maltin has written of the "unique" and "indelible" nature of the Tramp, and argued that no other comedian matched his "worldwide impact". Praising the character, Richard Schickel suggests that Chaplin's films with the Tramp contain the most "eloquent, richly comedic expressions of the human spirit" in movie history. Memorabilia connected to the character still fetches large sums in auctions: in 2006 a bowler hat and a bamboo cane that were part of the Tramp's costume were bought for $140,000 in a Los Angeles auction.
  • 1972
    Age 82
    In 1972, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offered Chaplin an Honorary Award, which Robinson sees as a sign that America "wanted to make amends".
    More Details Hide Details Chaplin was initially hesitant about accepting, but decided to return to the US for the first time in 20 years. The visit attracted a large amount of press coverage, and at the Academy Awards gala he was given a twelve-minute standing ovation, the longest in the Academy's history. Visibly emotional, Chaplin accepted his award for "the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century". Although Chaplin still had plans for future film projects, by the mid-1970s he was very frail. He experienced several further strokes, which made it difficult for him to communicate, and he had to use a wheelchair. His final projects were compiling a pictorial autobiography, My Life in Pictures (1974) and scoring A Woman of Paris for re-release in 1976. He also appeared in a documentary about his life, The Gentleman Tramp (1975), directed by Richard Patterson.
  • 1971
    Age 81
    In 1971, he was made a Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honour at the Cannes Film Festival.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, he was honoured with a special award by the Venice Film Festival.
  • 1967
    Age 77
    A Countess from Hong Kong premiered in January 1967, to unfavourable reviews, and was a box-office failure.
    More Details Hide Details Chaplin was deeply hurt by the negative reaction to the film, which turned out to be his last. Chaplin suffered a series of minor strokes in the late 1960s, which marked the beginning of a slow decline in his health. Despite the setbacks, he was soon writing a new film script, The Freak, a story of a winged girl found in South America, which he intended as a starring vehicle for his daughter Victoria. His fragile health prevented the project from being realised. In the early 1970s, Chaplin concentrated on re-releasing his old films, including The Kid and The Circus.
  • 1964
    Age 74
    September 1964 saw the release of Chaplin's memoirs, My Autobiography, which he had been working on since 1957.
    More Details Hide Details The 500-page book, which focused on his early years and personal life, became a worldwide best-seller, despite criticism over the lack of information on his film career. Shortly after the publication of his memoirs, Chaplin began work on A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), a romantic comedy based on a script he had written for Paulette Goddard in the 1930s. Set on an ocean liner, it starred Marlon Brando as an American ambassador and Sophia Loren as a stowaway found in his cabin. The film differed from Chaplin's earlier productions in several aspects. It was his first to use Technicolor and the widescreen format, while he concentrated on directing and appeared on-screen only in a cameo role as a seasick steward. He also signed a deal with Universal Pictures and appointed his assistant, Jerome Epstein, as the producer. Chaplin was paid $600,000 director's fee as well as a percentage of the gross receipts.
  • 1963
    Age 73
    In November 1963, the Plaza Theater in New York started a year-long series of Chaplin's films, including Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight, which gained excellent reviews from American critics.
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  • 1959
    Age 69
    In the last two decades of his career, Chaplin concentrated on re-editing and scoring his old films for re-release, along with securing their ownership and distribution rights. In an interview he granted in 1959, the year of his 70th birthday, Chaplin stated that there was still "room for the Little Man in the atomic age".
    More Details Hide Details The first of these re-releases was The Chaplin Revue (1959), which included new versions of A Dog's Life, Shoulder Arms, and The Pilgrim. In America, the political atmosphere began to change and attention was once again directed to Chaplin's films instead of his views. In July 1962, The New York Times published an editorial stating that "we do not believe the Republic would be in danger if yesterday's unforgotten little tramp were allowed to amble down the gangplank of a steamer or plane in an American port". The same month, Chaplin was invested with the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the universities of Oxford and Durham.
  • 1954
    Age 64
    He began developing his first European film, A King in New York, in 1954.
    More Details Hide Details Casting himself as an exiled king who seeks asylum in the United States, Chaplin included several of his recent experiences in the screenplay. His son, Michael, was cast as a boy whose parents are targeted by the FBI, while Chaplin's character faces accusations of communism. The political satire parodied HUAC and attacked elements of 1950s culture – including consumerism, plastic surgery, and wide-screen cinema. In a review, the playwright John Osborne called it Chaplin's "most bitter" and "most openly personal" film. Chaplin founded a new production company, Attica, and used Shepperton Studios for the shooting. Filming in England proved a difficult experience, as he was used to his own Hollywood studio and familiar crew, and no longer had limitless production time. According to Robinson, this had an effect on the quality of the film. A King in New York was released in September 1957, and received mixed reviews. Chaplin banned American journalists from its Paris première, and decided not to release the film in the United States. This severely limited its revenue, although it achieved moderate commercial success in Europe. A King in New York was not shown in America until 1973.
  • 1952
    Age 62
    At New York, he boarded the with his family on 18 September 1952.
    More Details Hide Details The next day, attorney general James P. McGranery revoked Chaplin's re-entry permit and stated that he would have to submit to an interview concerning his political views and moral behaviour in order to re-enter the US. Although McGranery told the press that he had "a pretty good case against Chaplin", Maland has concluded, on the basis of the FBI files that were released in the 1980s, that the US government had no real evidence to prevent Chaplin's re-entry. It is likely that he would have gained entry if he had applied for it. However, when Chaplin received a cablegram informing him of the news, he privately decided to cut his ties with the United States: Because all of his property remained in America, Chaplin refrained from saying anything negative about the incident to the press. The scandal attracted vast attention, but Chaplin and his film were warmly received in Europe. In America the hostility towards him continued, and, although it received some positive reviews, Limelight was subjected to a wide-scale boycott. Reflecting on this, Maland writes that Chaplin's fall, from an "unprecedented" level of popularity, "may be the most dramatic in the history of stardom in America".
  • 1951
    Age 61
    Filming began in November 1951, by which time Chaplin had spent three years working on the story.
    More Details Hide Details He aimed for a more serious tone than any of his previous films, regularly using the word "melancholy" when explaining his plans to his co-star Claire Bloom. Limelight featured a cameo appearance from Buster Keaton, whom Chaplin cast as his stage partner in a pantomime scene. This marked the only time the comedians worked together. Chaplin decided to hold the world premiere of Limelight in London, since it was the setting of the film. As he left Los Angeles, he expressed a premonition that he would not be returning.
  • 1947
    Age 57
    Chaplin again vocalised his political views in Monsieur Verdoux, criticising capitalism and arguing that the world encourages mass killing through wars and weapons of mass destruction. Because of this, the film met with controversy when it was released in April 1947; Chaplin was booed at the premiere, and there were calls for a boycott.
    More Details Hide Details Monsieur Verdoux was the first Chaplin release that failed both critically and commercially in the United States. It was more successful abroad, and Chaplin's screenplay was nominated at the Academy Awards. He was proud of the film, writing in his autobiography, "Monsieur Verdoux is the cleverest and most brilliant film I have yet made." The negative reaction to Monsieur Verdoux was largely the result of changes in Chaplin's public image. Along with damage of the Joan Barry scandal, he was publicly accused of being a communist. His political activity had heightened during World War II, when he campaigned for the opening of a Second Front to help the Soviet Union and supported various Soviet–American friendship groups. He was also friendly with several suspected communists, and attended functions given by Soviet diplomats in Los Angeles. In the political climate of 1940s America, such activities meant Chaplin was considered, as Larcher writes, "dangerously progressive and amoral." The FBI wanted him out of the country, and early in 1947 they launched an official investigation.
  • 1946
    Age 56
    Chaplin claimed that the Barry trials had "crippled his creativeness", and it was some time before he began working again. In April 1946, he finally began filming a project that had been in development since 1942.
    More Details Hide Details Monsieur Verdoux was a black comedy, the story of a French bank clerk, Verdoux (Chaplin), who loses his job and begins marrying and murdering wealthy widows to support his family. Chaplin's inspiration for the project came from Orson Welles, who wanted him to star in a film about the French serial killer Henri Désiré Landru. Chaplin decided that the concept would "make a wonderful comedy", and paid Welles $5,000 for the idea.
  • 1942
    Age 52
    She eventually divorced Chaplin in Mexico in 1942, citing incompatibility and separation for more than a year.
    More Details Hide Details The 1940s saw Chaplin face a series of controversies, both in his work and in his personal life, which changed his fortunes and severely affected his popularity in the United States. The first of these was a new boldness in expressing his political beliefs. Deeply disturbed by the surge of militaristic nationalism in 1930s world politics, Chaplin found that he could not keep these issues out of his work. Parallels between himself and Adolf Hitler had been widely noted: the pair were born four days apart, both had risen from poverty to world prominence, and Hitler wore the same toothbrush moustache as Chaplin. It was this physical resemblance that supplied the plot for Chaplin's next film, The Great Dictator, which directly satirised Hitler and attacked fascism.
  • 1941
    Age 51
    The troubles stemmed from his affair with an aspirant actress named Joan Barry, with whom he was involved intermittently between June 1941 and the autumn of 1942.
    More Details Hide Details Barry, who displayed obsessive behaviour and was twice arrested after they separated, reappeared the following year and announced that she was pregnant with Chaplin's child. As Chaplin denied the claim, Barry filed a paternity suit against him. The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), J. Edgar Hoover, who had long been suspicious of Chaplin's political leanings, used the opportunity to generate negative publicity about him. As part of a smear campaign to damage Chaplin's image, the FBI named him in four indictments related to the Barry case. Most serious of these was an alleged violation of the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of women across state boundaries for sexual purposes. The historian Otto Friedrich has called this an "absurd prosecution" of an "ancient statute", yet if Chaplin was found guilty, he faced 23 years in jail. Three charges lacked sufficient evidence to proceed to court, but the Mann Act trial began in March 1944. Chaplin was acquitted two weeks later. The case was frequently headline news, with Newsweek calling it the "biggest public relations scandal since the Fatty Arbuckle murder trial in 1921."
  • 1939
    Age 49
    Chaplin spent two years developing the script, and began filming in September 1939 – six days after Britain declared war on Germany.
    More Details Hide Details He had submitted to using spoken dialogue, partly out of acceptance that he had no other choice, but also because he recognised it as a better method for delivering a political message. Making a comedy about Hitler was seen as highly controversial, but Chaplin's financial independence allowed him to take the risk. "I was determined to go ahead," he later wrote, "for Hitler must be laughed at." Chaplin replaced the Tramp (while wearing similar attire) with "A Jewish Barber", a reference to the Nazi party's belief that he was Jewish. In a dual performance he also played the dictator "Adenoid Hynkel", who parodied Hitler. The Great Dictator spent a year in production, and was released in October 1940. The film generated a vast amount of publicity, with a critic for The New York Times calling it "the most eagerly awaited picture of the year", and it was one of the biggest money-makers of the era. The ending was unpopular, however, and generated controversy. Chaplin concluded the film with a five-minute speech in which he abandoned his barber character, looked directly into the camera, and pleaded against war and fascism. Charles J. Maland has identified this overt preaching as triggering a decline in Chaplin's popularity, and writes, "Henceforth, no movie fan would ever be able to separate the dimension of politics from his star image". The Great Dictator received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor.
  • 1938
    Age 48
    By 1938 the couple had drifted apart, as both focused heavily on their work, although Goddard was again his leading lady in his next feature film, The Great Dictator.
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  • 1936
    Age 46
    After recording the music, Chaplin released Modern Times in February 1936.
    More Details Hide Details It was his first feature in 15 years to adopt political references and social realism, a factor that attracted considerable press coverage despite Chaplin's attempts to downplay the issue. The film earned less at the box-office than his previous features and received mixed reviews, as some viewers disliked the politicising. Today, Modern Times is seen by the British Film Institute as one of Chaplin's "great features," while David Robinson says it shows the filmmaker at "his unrivalled peak as a creator of visual comedy." Following the release of Modern Times, Chaplin left with Goddard for a trip to the Far East. The couple had refused to comment on the nature of their relationship, and it was not known whether they were married or not. Some time later, Chaplin revealed that they married in Canton during this trip.
  • 1932
    Age 42
    Chaplin's loneliness was relieved when he met 21-year-old actress Paulette Goddard in July 1932, and the pair began a successful relationship.
    More Details Hide Details He was not ready to commit to a film, however, and focussed on writing a serial about his travels (published in Woman's Home Companion). The trip had been a stimulating experience for Chaplin, including meetings with several prominent thinkers, and he became increasingly interested in world affairs. The state of labour in America troubled him, and he feared that capitalism and machinery in the workplace would increase unemployment levels. It was these concerns that stimulated Chaplin to develop his new film. Modern Times was announced by Chaplin as "a satire on certain phases of our industrial life." Featuring the Tramp and Goddard as they endure the Great Depression, it took ten and a half months to film. Chaplin intended to use spoken dialogue, but changed his mind during rehearsals. Like its predecessor, Modern Times employed sound effects, but almost no speaking. Chaplin's performance of a gibberish song did, however, give the Tramp a voice for the only time on film.
  • 1930
    Age 40
    Chaplin finished editing City Lights in December 1930, by which time silent films were an anachronism.
    More Details Hide Details A preview before an unsuspecting public audience was not a success, but a showing for the press produced positive reviews. One journalist wrote, "Nobody in the world but Charlie Chaplin could have done it. He is the only person that has that peculiar something called 'audience appeal' in sufficient quality to defy the popular penchant for movies that talk." Given its general release in January 1931, City Lights proved to be a popular and financial success – eventually grossing over $3 million. The British Film Institute cites it as Chaplin's finest accomplishment, and the critic James Agee hails the closing scene as "the greatest piece of acting and the highest moment in movies". City Lights became Chaplin's personal favourite of his films and remained so throughout his life. City Lights had been a success, but Chaplin was unsure if he could make another picture without dialogue. He remained convinced that sound would not work in his films, but was also "obsessed by a depressing fear of being old-fashioned." In this state of uncertainty, early in 1931 the comedian decided to take a holiday and ended up travelling for 16 months. In his autobiography, Chaplin recalled that on his return to Los Angeles, "I was confused and without plan, restless and conscious of an extreme loneliness". He briefly considered the option of retiring and moving to China.
  • 1928
    Age 38
    When filming began at the end of 1928, Chaplin had been working on the story for almost a year.
    More Details Hide Details City Lights followed the Tramp's love for a blind flower girl (played by Virginia Cherrill) and his efforts to raise money for her sight-saving operation. It was a challenging production that lasted 21 months, with Chaplin later confessing that he "had worked himself into a neurotic state of wanting perfection". One advantage Chaplin found in sound technology was the opportunity to record a musical score for the film, which he composed himself.
  • 1925
    Age 35
    Their first son, Charles Spencer Chaplin, Jr., was born on 5 May 1925, followed by Sydney Earl Chaplin on 30 March 1926.
    More Details Hide Details It was an unhappy marriage, and Chaplin spent long hours at the studio to avoid seeing his wife. In November 1926, Grey took the children and left the family home. A bitter divorce followed, in which Grey's application – accusing Chaplin of infidelity, abuse, and of harbouring "perverted sexual desires" – was leaked to the press. Chaplin was reported to be in a state of nervous breakdown, as the story became headline news and groups formed across America calling for his films to be banned. Eager to end the case without further scandal, Chaplin's lawyers agreed to a cash settlement of $600,000the largest awarded by American courts at that time. His fan base was strong enough to survive the incident, and it was soon forgotten, but Chaplin was deeply affected by it. Before the divorce suit was filed, Chaplin had begun work on a new film, The Circus. He built a story around the idea of walking a tightrope while besieged by monkeys, and turned the Tramp into the accidental star of a circus. Filming was suspended for 10 months while he dealt with the divorce scandal, and it was generally a trouble-ridden production. Finally completed in October 1927, The Circus was released in January 1928 to a positive reception. At the 1st Academy Awards, Chaplin was given a special trophy "For versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus.
  • 1924
    Age 34
    He therefore arranged a discreet marriage in Mexico on 25 November 1924.
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    With Georgia Hale as his new leading lady, Chaplin began filming the picture in February 1924.
    More Details Hide Details Its elaborate production, costing almost $1 million, included location shooting in the Truckee mountains with 600 extras, extravagant sets, and special effects. The last scene was not shot until May 1925, after 15 months of filming. Chaplin felt The Gold Rush was the best film he had made to that point. It opened in August 1925 and became one of the highest-grossing films of the silent era with a profit of $5 million. The comedy contains some of Chaplin's most famous sequences, such as the Tramp eating his shoe and the "Dance of the Rolls". Macnab has called it "the quintessential Chaplin film". Chaplin stated, "This is the picture that I want to be remembered by" at the time of the film's release. While making The Gold Rush, Chaplin married for the second time. Mirroring the circumstances of his first union, Lita Grey was a teenage actress, originally set to star in the film, whose surprise announcement of pregnancy forced Chaplin into marriage. She was 16 and he was 35, meaning Chaplin could have been charged with statutory rape under California law.
  • 1922
    Age 32
    Having fulfilled his First National contract, Chaplin was free to make his first picture as an independent producer. In November 1922 he began filming A Woman of Paris, a romantic drama about ill-fated lovers.
    More Details Hide Details Chaplin intended it to be a star-making vehicle for Edna Purviance, and did not appear in the picture himself other than in a brief, uncredited cameo. He wished for the film to have a realistic feel, and directed his cast to give restrained performances. In real life, he explained, "men and women try to hide their emotions rather than seek to express them". A Woman of Paris premiered in September 1923 and was acclaimed for its subtle approach, then an innovation. The public, however, seemed to have little interest in a Chaplin film without his presence, and it was a box-office disappointment. The filmmaker was hurt by this failure – he had long wanted to produce a dramatic film and was proud of the result – and withdrew A Woman of Paris from circulation as soon as he could. Chaplin returned to comedy for his next project. Setting his standards high, he told himself: "This next film must be an epic! The Greatest!" Inspired by a photograph of the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush, and later the story of the Donner Party of 1846–47, he made what Geoffrey Macnab calls "an epic comedy out of grim subject matter." In The Gold Rush, the Tramp is a lonely prospector fighting adversity and looking for love.
    He then worked to fulfil his First National contract, releasing Pay Day in February 1922.
    More Details Hide Details The Pilgrim – his final short film – was delayed by distribution disagreements with the studio, and released a year later.
  • 1921
    Age 31
    Chaplin spent five months on his next film, the two-reeler The Idle Class. Following its September 1921 release, he chose to return to England for the first time in almost a decade.
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  • 1920
    Age 30
    The Kid was in production for nine months, until May 1920, and at 68 minutes it was Chaplin's longest picture to date.
    More Details Hide Details Dealing with issues of poverty and parent–child separation, The Kid is thought to have been influenced by Chaplin's own childhood and was one of the earliest films to combine comedy and drama. It was released in January 1921 with instant success, and by 1924 had been screened in over 50 countries.
    The marriage eventually ended in April 1920, with Chaplin explaining in his autobiography that they were "irreconcilably mismated".
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  • 1919
    Age 29
    Filming on The Kid began in August 1919, with four-year-old Jackie Coogan his co-star.
    More Details Hide Details It occurred to Chaplin that it was turning into a large project, so to placate First National, he halted production and quickly filmed A Day's Pleasure.
  • 1918
    Age 28
    Chaplin's legacy is managed on behalf of his children by the Chaplin office, located in Paris. The office represents Association Chaplin, founded by some of his children "to protect the name, image and moral rights" to his body of work, Roy Export SAS, which owns the copyright to most of his films made after 1918, and Bubbles Incorporated S.A., which owns the copyrights to his image and name.
    More Details Hide Details Their central archive is held at the archives of Montreux, Switzerland and scanned versions of its contents, including 83,630 images, 118 scripts, 976 manuscripts, 7,756 letters, and thousands of other documents, are available for research purposes at the Chaplin Research Centre at the Cineteca di Bologna. The photographic archive, which includes approximately 10,000 photographs from Chaplin's life and career, is kept at the Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland. The British Film Institute has also established the Charles Chaplin Research Foundation, and the first international Charles Chaplin Conference was held in London in July 2005. Chaplin is the subject of a biographical film, Chaplin (1992) directed by Richard Attenborough, and starring Robert Downey, Jr. in the title role. He is also a character in the period drama film The Cat's Meow (2001), played by Eddie Izzard, and in the made-for-television movie The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980), played by Clive Revill. A television series about Chaplin's childhood, Young Charlie Chaplin, ran on PBS in 1989, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program.
    Before the creation of United Artists, Chaplin married for the first time. The 17-year-old actress Mildred Harris had revealed that she was pregnant with his child, and in September 1918 he married her quietly in Los Angeles to avoid controversy. Soon after, the pregnancy was found to be a false alarm. Chaplin was unhappy with the union and, feeling that marriage stunted his creativity, struggled over the production of his film Sunnyside. Harris was by then legitimately pregnant, and on 7 July 1919, gave birth to a son.
    More Details Hide Details Norman Spencer Chaplin was born malformed, and died three days later.
    He spent four months filming the 45-minute-long picture, which was released in October 1918 with great success.
    More Details Hide Details After the release of Shoulder Arms, Chaplin requested more money from First National, which was refused. Frustrated with their lack of concern for quality, and worried about rumours of a possible merger between the company and Famous Players-Lasky, Chaplin joined forces with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D. W. Griffith to form a new distribution company – United Artists, established in January 1919. The arrangement was revolutionary in the film industry, as it enabled the four partners – all creative artists – to personally fund their pictures and have complete control. Chaplin was eager to start with the new company, and offered to buy out his contract with First National. They declined this, and insisted that he complete the final six films he owed them.
    It was completed in January 1918, and Chaplin was given freedom over the making of his pictures.
    More Details Hide Details A Dog's Life, released April 1918, was the first film under the new contract. In it, Chaplin demonstrated his increasing concern with story construction, and his treatment of the Tramp as "a sort of Pierrot". The film was described by Louis Delluc as "cinema's first total work of art". Chaplin then embarked on the Third Liberty Bond campaign, touring the United States for one month to raise money for the Allies of the First World War. He also produced a short propaganda film, donated to the government for fund-raising, called The Bond. Chaplin's next release was war-based, placing the Tramp in the trenches for Shoulder Arms. Associates warned him against making a comedy about the war but, as he later recalled: "Dangerous or not, the idea excited me."
  • 1917
    Age 27
    In June 1917, Chaplin signed to complete eight films for First National Exhibitors' Circuit in return for $1 million.
    More Details Hide Details He chose to build his own studio, situated on five acres of land off Sunset Boulevard, with production facilities of the highest order.
    In 1917, professional Chaplin imitators were so widespread that he took legal action, and it was reported that nine out of ten men who attended costume parties dressed as the Tramp.
    More Details Hide Details The same year, a study by the Boston Society for Psychical Research concluded that Chaplin was "an American obsession". The actress Minnie Maddern Fiske wrote that "a constantly increasing body of cultured, artistic people are beginning to regard the young English buffoon, Charles Chaplin, as an extraordinary artist, as well as a comic genius". Mutual were patient with Chaplin's decreased rate of output, and the contract ended amicably. His primary concern in finding a new distributor was independence; Sydney Chaplin, then his business manager, told the press, "Charlie must be allowed all the time he needs and all the money for producing films the way he wants... It is quality, not quantity, we are after."
    He made only four more films for Mutual over the first ten months of 1917: Easy Street, The Cure, The Immigrant and The Adventurer.
    More Details Hide Details With their careful construction, these films are considered by Chaplin scholars to be among his finest work. Later in life, Chaplin referred to his Mutual years as the happiest period of his career. Chaplin was attacked in the British media for not fighting in the First World War. He defended himself, revealing that he would fight for Britain if called and had registered for the American draft, but he was not summoned by either country. Despite this criticism Chaplin was a favourite with the troops, and his popularity continued to grow worldwide. Harper's Weekly reported that the name of Charlie Chaplin was "a part of the common language of almost every country", and that the Tramp image was "universally familiar".
    She went on to appear in 35 films with Chaplin over eight years; the pair also formed a romantic relationship that lasted into 1917.
    More Details Hide Details Chaplin asserted a high level of control over his pictures, and started to put more time and care into each film. There was a month-long interval between the release of his second production, A Night Out, and his third, The Champion. The final seven of Chaplin's 14 Essanay films were all produced at this slower pace. Chaplin also began to alter his screen persona, which had attracted some criticism at Keystone for its "mean, crude, and brutish" nature. The character became more gentle and romantic; The Tramp (April 1915) was considered a particular turning point in his development. The use of pathos was developed further with The Bank, in which Chaplin created a sad ending. Robinson notes that this was an innovation in comedy films, and marked the time when serious critics began to appreciate Chaplin's work. At Essanay, writes film scholar Simon Louvish, Chaplin "found the themes and the settings that would define the Tramp's world."
  • 1916
    Age 26
    Behind the Screen and The Rink completed Chaplin's releases for 1916.
    More Details Hide Details The Mutual contract stipulated that he release a two-reel film every four weeks, which he had managed to achieve. With the new year, however, Chaplin began to demand more time.
    Mutual gave Chaplin his own Los Angeles studio to work in, which opened in March 1916.
    More Details Hide Details He added two key members to his stock company, Albert Austin and Eric Campbell, and produced a series of elaborate two-reelers: The Floorwalker, The Fireman, The Vagabond, One A.M. and The Count. For The Pawnshop he recruited the actor Henry Bergman, who was to work with Chaplin for 30 years.
  • 1915
    Age 25
    When the Essanay contract ended in December 1915, Chaplin – fully aware of his popularity – requested a $150,000 signing bonus from his next studio.
    More Details Hide Details He received several offers, including Universal, Fox, and Vitagraph, the best of which came from the Mutual Film Corporation at $10,000 a week. A contract was negotiated with Mutual that amounted to $670,000 a year, which Robinson says made Chaplin – at 26 years old – one of the highest paid people in the world. The high salary shocked the public and was widely reported in the press. John R. Freuler, the studio president, explained: "We can afford to pay Mr. Chaplin this large sum annually because the public wants Chaplin and will pay for him."
    During 1915, Chaplin became a cultural phenomenon.
    More Details Hide Details Shops were stocked with Chaplin merchandise, he was featured in cartoons and comic strips, and several songs were written about him. In July, a journalist for Motion Picture Magazine wrote that "Chaplinitis" had spread across America. As his fame grew worldwide, he became the film industry's first international star.
  • 1914
    Age 24
    He joined the studio in late December 1914, where he began forming a stock company of regular players, including Leo White, Bud Jamison, Paddy McGuire and Billy Armstrong.
    More Details Hide Details He soon recruited a leading lady – Edna Purviance, whom Chaplin met in a cafe and hired on account of her beauty.
    In November 1914, he had a supporting role in the first feature length comedy film, Tillie's Punctured Romance, directed by Sennett and starring Marie Dressler, which was a commercial success and increased his popularity.
    More Details Hide Details When Chaplin's contract came up for renewal at the end of the year, he asked for $1,000 a week ($ in dollars) – an amount Sennett refused as too large. The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company of Chicago sent Chaplin an offer of $1,250 a week with a signing bonus of $10,000.
    Caught in the Rain, issued 4 May 1914, was Chaplin's directorial debut and was highly successful.
    More Details Hide Details Thereafter he directed almost every short film in which he appeared for Keystone, at the rate of approximately one per week, a period which he later remembered as the most exciting time of his career. Chaplin's films introduced a slower form of comedy than the typical Keystone farce, and he developed a large fan base.
    The one-reeler Making a Living marked his film acting debut, and was released on 2 February 1914.
    More Details Hide Details Chaplin strongly disliked the picture, but one review picked him out as "a comedian of the first water". For his second appearance in front of the camera, Chaplin selected the costume with which he became identified. He described the process in his autobiography: The film was Mabel's Strange Predicament, but "the Tramp" character, as it became known, debuted to audiences in Kid Auto Races at Venice – shot later than Mabel's Strange Predicament but released two days earlier. Chaplin adopted the character as his screen persona, and attempted to make suggestions for the films he appeared in. These ideas were dismissed by his directors. During the filming of his eleventh picture, Mabel at the Wheel, he clashed with director Mabel Normand and was almost released from his contract. Sennett kept him on, however, when he received orders from exhibitors for more Chaplin films. Sennett also allowed Chaplin to direct his next film himself, after Chaplin promised to pay $1,500 ($ in dollars) if the film was unsuccessful.
  • 1913
    Age 23
    Chaplin arrived in Los Angeles, home of the Keystone studio, in early December 1913.
    More Details Hide Details His boss was Mack Sennett, who initially expressed concern that the 24-year-old looked too young. He was not used in a picture until late January, during which time Chaplin attempted to learn the processes of filmmaking.
    He met with the company, and signed a $150-per-week ($ in dollars) contract in September 1913.
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  • 1910
    Age 20
    In April 1910, he was given the lead in a new sketch, Jimmy the Fearless.
    More Details Hide Details It was a big success, and Chaplin received considerable press attention. Karno selected his new star to join the section of the company that toured North America's vaudeville circuit. The young comedian headed the show and impressed reviewers, being described as "one of the best pantomime artists ever seen here". His most successful role was a drunk called the "Inebriate Swell", which drew him significant recognition. The tour lasted 21 months, and the troupe returned to England in June 1912. Chaplin recalled that he "had a disquieting feeling of sinking back into a depressing commonplaceness", and was therefore delighted when a new tour began in October. Six months into the second American tour, Chaplin was invited to join the New York Motion Picture Company. A representative who had seen his performances thought he could replace Fred Mace, a star of their Keystone Studios who intended to leave. Chaplin thought the Keystone comedies "a crude mélange of rough and rumble", but liked the idea of working in films and rationalised: "Besides, it would mean a new life."
  • 1909
    Age 19
    Chaplin began by playing a series of minor parts, eventually progressing to starring roles in 1909.
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  • 1906
    Age 16
    Meanwhile, Sydney Chaplin had joined Fred Karno's prestigious comedy company in 1906, and by 1908 he was one of their key performers.
    More Details Hide Details In February, he managed to secure a two-week trial for his younger brother. Karno was initially wary, and considered Chaplin a "pale, puny, sullen-looking youngster" who "looked much too shy to do any good in the theatre." But the teenager made an impact on his first night at the London Coliseum and he was quickly signed to a contract.
    Chaplin soon found work with a new company, and went on tour with his brother – who was also pursuing an acting career – in a comedy sketch called Repairs. In May 1906, Chaplin joined the juvenile act Casey's Circus, where he developed popular burlesque pieces and was soon the star of the show.
    More Details Hide Details By the time the act finished touring in July 1907, the 18-year-old had become an accomplished comedic performer. He struggled to find more work, however, and a brief attempt at a solo act was a failure.
    He completed one final tour of Sherlock Holmes in early 1906, before leaving the play after more than two-and-a-half years.
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  • 1905
    Age 15
    At 16 years old, Chaplin starred in the play's West End production at the Duke of York's Theatre from October to December 1905.
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  • 1899
    Age 9
    Through his father's connections, Chaplin became a member of the Eight Lancashire Lads clog-dancing troupe, with whom he toured English music halls throughout 1899 and 1900.
    More Details Hide Details Chaplin worked hard, and the act was popular with audiences, but he was not satisfied with dancing and wished to form a comedy act. In the years Chaplin was touring with the Eight Lancashire Lads, his mother ensured that he still attended school, but by age 13 he had abandoned education. He supported himself with a range of jobs, while nursing his ambition to become an actor. At 14, shortly after his mother's relapse, he registered with a theatrical agency in London's West End. The manager sensed potential in Chaplin, who was promptly given his first role as a newsboy in H. A. Saintsbury's Jim, a Romance of Cockayne. It opened in July 1903, but the show was unsuccessful and closed after two weeks. Chaplin's comic performance, however, was singled out for praise in many of the reviews.
  • 1898
    Age 8
    He was briefly reunited with his mother 18 months later, before Hannah was forced to readmit her family to the workhouse in July 1898.
    More Details Hide Details The boys were promptly sent to Norwood Schools, another institution for destitute children. box In September 1898, Hannah was committed to Cane Hill mental asylum – she had developed a psychosis seemingly brought on by an infection of syphilis and malnutrition. For the two months she was there, Chaplin and his brother Sydney were sent to live with their father, whom the young boys scarcely knew. Charles Sr. was by then a severe alcoholic, and life there was bad enough to provoke a visit from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Chaplin's father died two years later, at 38 years old, from cirrhosis of the liver. Hannah entered a period of remission, but in May 1903 became ill again. Chaplin, then 14, had the task of taking his mother to the infirmary, from where she was sent back to Cane Hill. He lived alone for several days, searching for food and occasionally sleeping rough, until Sydney – who had enrolled in the Navy two years earlier – returned. Hannah was released from the asylum eight months later, but in March 1905 her illness returned, this time permanently. "There was nothing we could do but accept poor mother's fate", Chaplin later wrote, and she remained in care until her death in 1928.
  • 1891
    Age 1
    Although they never divorced, Chaplin's parents were estranged by around 1891.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, Hannah gave birth to a third son – George Wheeler Dryden – fathered by the music hall entertainer Leo Dryden. The child was taken by Dryden at six months old, and did not re-enter Chaplin's life for 30 years. Chaplin's childhood was fraught with poverty and hardship, making his eventual trajectory "the most dramatic of all the rags to riches stories ever told" according to his authorised biographer David Robinson. Chaplin's early years were spent with his mother and brother Sydney in the London district of Kennington; Hannah had no means of income, other than occasional nursing and dressmaking, and Chaplin Sr. provided no financial support. As the situation deteriorated, Chaplin was sent to Lambeth workhouse when he was seven years old. The council housed him at the Central London District School for paupers, which Chaplin remembered as "a forlorn existence".
  • 1889
    Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on 16 April 1889 to Hannah Chaplin (born Hannah Harriet Pedlingham Hill) and Charles Chaplin Sr.
    More Details Hide Details There is no official record of his birth, although Chaplin believed he was born at East Street, Walworth, in South London. His mother and father had married four years previously, at which time Charles Sr. became the legal carer of Hannah's illegitimate son, Sydney John Hill. At the time of his birth, Chaplin's parents were both music hall entertainers. Hannah, the daughter of a shoemaker, had a brief and unsuccessful career under the stage name Lily Harley, while Charles Sr., a butcher's son, was a popular singer.
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