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Charles Chaplin

Charles Chaplin

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Also Known As: Charles Spencer Chaplin, Sir Charles Chaplin, Charles Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin Died: December 25, 1977
Born: April 16, 1889 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: director, actor, screenwriter, composer, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Recognized as one of the greatest entertainers in movie history, Charlie Chaplin drew from his impoverished childhood in South London to create the most iconic character in cinema history, The Tramp, a good-natured, undaunted and somewhat unscrupulous cavalier from the 19th century trying to survive the isolating, technologically-driven 20th century. Outfitted in tattered baggy pants, a cutaway coat and vest, impossibly large worn-out shoes and a battered derby hat, The Tramp appeared in untold numbers of short films and made Chaplin the first true Hollywood star. After making his debut in "Kid Auto Races at Venice" (1914), Chaplin's Tramp was the focus of many iconic films like "The Tramp" (1915), "Behind the Screen" (1916), "Easy Street" (1917) and "The Immigrant" (1917). With his output slowed down a bit after World War I, Chaplin entered into one of his most creatively satisfying periods that saw "The Kid" (1921), "The Gold Rush" (1925) and "City Lights" (1931) hit the screen. Chaplin was one of the last to bow down to pressure and succumb to the sound era with "Modern Times" (1936), in which he reluctantly agreed to allow the public to hear the Tramp's voice - the first and only time this...

Recognized as one of the greatest entertainers in movie history, Charlie Chaplin drew from his impoverished childhood in South London to create the most iconic character in cinema history, The Tramp, a good-natured, undaunted and somewhat unscrupulous cavalier from the 19th century trying to survive the isolating, technologically-driven 20th century. Outfitted in tattered baggy pants, a cutaway coat and vest, impossibly large worn-out shoes and a battered derby hat, The Tramp appeared in untold numbers of short films and made Chaplin the first true Hollywood star. After making his debut in "Kid Auto Races at Venice" (1914), Chaplin's Tramp was the focus of many iconic films like "The Tramp" (1915), "Behind the Screen" (1916), "Easy Street" (1917) and "The Immigrant" (1917). With his output slowed down a bit after World War I, Chaplin entered into one of his most creatively satisfying periods that saw "The Kid" (1921), "The Gold Rush" (1925) and "City Lights" (1931) hit the screen. Chaplin was one of the last to bow down to pressure and succumb to the sound era with "Modern Times" (1936), in which he reluctantly agreed to allow the public to hear the Tramp's voice - the first and only time this occurred. Having retired the character for good, Chaplin - who was also a pioneering writer and director on many of his films - starred in what became his last truly exemplary film, "The Great Dictator" (1940), before outraging audiences with an atypical turn in the thriller "Monsieur Verdoux" (1947). His last ode to the Tramp, "Limelight" (1952), failed to reach American screens amidst the political witch hunts of the McCarthy era, which led to him permanently residing in Switzerland until his death in 1977. Despite the hardships endured later in his career, Chaplin remained one of Hollywood's true geniuses while his Tramp characterization became one of cinema's most recognizable and defining images.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  The Chaplin Revue (1964) Director
3.
  A King in New York (1957) Director
4.
  Limelight (1953) Director
5.
  Monsieur Verdoux (1947) Director
6.
  The Great Dictator (1941) Director
7.
  Modern Times (1936) Director
8.
  City Lights (1931) Director
9.
  The Circus (1928) Director
10.
  A Woman of the Sea (1926) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 American Lifestyles (1987) ("The Movie Marches On" - "Show Business: The War Years")
3.
 It's Showtime (1976) Himself
5.
 A Countess From Hong Kong (1967) Old steward
6.
7.
8.
 A King in New York (1957) King Shadhov
9.
 Limelight (1953) Calvero
10.
 Monsieur Verdoux (1947) Henri Verdoux, alias Varnay, alias [Captain Louis] Bonheur, alias Floray
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began music hall career at age 5
1898:
Toured as one of the Eight Lancashire Lads
1903:
First featured stage role in "Sherlock Holmes"; toured English provinces
1905:
Appeared in London West End production of "Sherlock Holmes", starring its American author, William Gillette
1907:
Joined Fred Karno's Pantomime Troupe in England; quickly rose to Karno's star attraction, specializing in a dexterous portrayal of a comic drunk
1910:
Made first trip to America with Karno's Speechless Comedians
1913:
Hired by Mack Sennett's Keystone Company while on tour with Karno; left for Hollywood, arriving on Sennett's lot in December with a contract for $150 per week
1914:
Film acting debut in Keystone's "Making a Living"
1914:
First appearance of the tramp in "Kid Auto Races at Venice"
1914:
Directed, acted in and wrote over 20 shorts
1915:
Left Keystone Company; signed with Essanay Company for $1250 per week (Sennett had offered $750) plus a $10,000 signing bonus; met key collaborator, cameraman Rollie Totheroh, who would shoot every Chaplin film (and only Chaplin films) until his death in 1946
1915:
First film with Edna Purviance; she would play the idealized woman in every Chaplin film for the next eight years, remaining on the Chaplin payroll until her death in 1958
1916:
Moved to Mutual Film Corporation; the popularity of such Mutual two-reelers as "The Pawnshop", "The Immigrant" and "Easy Street" (only pic in which he ever played a cop) made him an international star
1918:
Signed by First National Exhibitors Circuit, producing his films independently; contract allowed him to build his own studio, which he alone used until 1952
1919:
Co-founded United Artists Corporation (with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith)
1921:
Strayed from First National contract calling for two-reelers to make "The Kid" (a six-reeler), his longest and most ambitious film to that time
1923:
Wrote and directed (appearing only briefly as a railway porter) "A Woman of Paris" (first full-length film), a comedy of manners starring Purviance (her final film with Chaplin); first UA release
1925:
Tramp's feature debut for UA, "The Gold Rush"; Chaplin called it "the picture I want to be remembered by"
1928:
Awarded an honorary Oscar for "versatility and genius in writing, acting, directing, and producing 'The Circus'"
1931:
First feature of the sound era, "City Lights" (a silent film); fourth biggest grosser of the year
1936:
Voice first heard in a commercial film, "Modern Times", when he sang a nonsense song; mild left-wing point of view signaled his growing political convivtion; year's second biggest money-earner after "San Francisco"
1940:
First full talkie, "The Great Dictator"; received Oscar nominations for best actor, best screenplay and best picture; refused New York Film Critics Award as Best Actor
1942:
His appearance at a rally supporting a Russian counterattack of Germany (a second front) led to his becoming a target of investigation by the FBI
1943:
Named in paternity suit by actress Joan Barry, who claimed that Chaplin had been her lover for several years and was the father of her child; though Chaplin denied Barry's claims and genetic evidence suggested that he was not the father of her child, the court ruled in Barry's favor
1947:
Played "lady killer" in "Monsieur Verdoux"; Oscar-nominated for his screenplay
:
Refused to testify before House Committee on Un-American Activities
1952:
Denied reentry into America after attending the London premiere of "Limelight" (only film in which he appared with Buster Keaton); settled in Switzerland
:
Sold interest in United Artists
1957:
First film outside the US, "A King in New York"
1963:
Orchestrated a festival of his films in NYC
1967:
Last film, "The Countess of Hong Kong", starring Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando; Chaplin had cameo as waiter
1972:
Returned to the USA after nearly 20 years to accept an honorary Academy Award
1975:
Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II
1978:
Body dug up by two grave robbers on March 2; found 2 1/2 months later and reburied
1992:
Subject of a biographical motion picture "Chaplin", directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Robert Downey Jr
1995:
Voted the greatest actor in movie history by a worldwide survey of film critics
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

"Halfway through, a shower of money poured on the stage. Immediately I stopped and announced that I would pick up the money first and sing afterwards. This caused much laughter. The stage manager came on with a handkerchief and helped me gather it up. I thought he was going to keep it. This thought was conveyed to the audience and increased their laughter, especially when he walked off with it with me anxiously following him. Not until he handed it to Mother did I return and continue to sing. I was quite at home. I talked to the audience, danced and did several imitations including one of Mother singing her Irish march song." --Charles Chaplin, remembering his stage debut at the age of five in "My Autobiography"

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Hetty Kelly. First love; met in 1908; died in 1918 in England.
companion:
Peggy Pearce. Actor. Dated in 1914.
wife:
Mildred Harris. Married in 1918; divorced in 1920; born on November 29, 1901; died on July 20, 1944.
companion:
Pola Negri. Actor. Had on-again, off-again romance from c. 1923 to 1924.
wife:
Lillita MacMurray. Actor. Born on April 15, 1908; married in 1924; divorced in 1927; died at age 87 on December 29, 1995 in Woodland Hills, California; Chaplin cast her in his "The Kid" when she was 12 and the two were married when she was 16; when they divorced Grey received $825,000, the then-largest divorce settlement in American history.
companion:
Louise Brooks. Actor, dancer. Had relationship in summer 1925.
wife:
Paulette Goddard. Actor. Married c. 1933, divorced in 1942; some controversy has surrounded exactly when the two were married; Goddard acted opposite Chaplin in his films "Modern Times" (1936) and "The Great Dictator" (1940); born on June 3, 1911; died on April 23, 1990.
wife:
Oona O'Neill. Married from June 1943 until Chaplin's death in 1977; daughter of American playwright Eugene O'Neill; met Chaplin in 1942 at age 17 when a Hollywood agent recommended her for a part in the unfilmed "Shadow and Substance"; renounced her American citizenship in 1954; died of pancreatic cancer at age 66 on September 27, 1991 in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Charles Chaplin. Music hall entertainer. Born in 1863; left family when Chaplin was a young child; died of alcoholism in 1901.
mother:
Hannah Chaplin. Music hall entertainer. Born in 1865; had breakdown after husband left; institutionalized for most of her remaining years; died in 1928; portrayed by her granddaughter Geraldine in the biopic "Chaplin" (1992).
half-brother:
Sydney Chaplin. Actor, business manager. Born in 1885; handled most of brother's business affairs in the 1920s; died in 1965.
half-brother:
Wheeler Dryden. Actor. Died in 1957.
son:
Charles Chaplin Jr. Actor. Born in 1925; mother, Lita Grey; debuted in "Limelight" (1952) as one of the clowns; died in 1968.
son:
Sydney Earl Chaplin. Actor, singer. Born on March 30, 1926; mother, Lita Grey; made film debut as the romantic lead of "Limelight"; starred in several Broadway shows in the late 1950s and 1960s including "Funny Girl" (1964).
daughter:
Geraldine Chaplin. Actor. Born on July 31, 1944; mother, Oona O'Neill; debuted as street urchin in "Limelight"; portrayed her grandmother in biopic "Chaplin" (1992).
son:
Michael Chaplin. Actor. Born in 1946; mother, Oona O'Neill; debuted in father's "A King in New York" (1957).
daughter:
Josephine Chaplin. Actor. Born in 1949; mother, Oona O'Neill.
daughter:
Victoria Chaplin. Circus performer. Born in 1951; mother, Oona O'Neill.
son:
Eugene Chaplin. Born in 1953; mother, Oona O'Neill.
daughter:
Jane Chaplin. Born in 1957; mother, Oona O'Neill.
daughter:
Annette Chaplin. Born in 1959; mother, Oona O'Neill.
son:
Christopher Chaplin. Actor. Born in 1962; mother, Oona O'Neill.
grandson:
James Thieree. Circus acrobat. Made film debut in Peter Greenaway's "Prospero's Books" (1991).
granddaughter:
Dolores Chaplin. Actor, model. Appeared in the film "The Ice Rink" (2000).
granddaughter:
Kiera Chaplin. Actor. Born c. 1981; daughter of Eugene Chaplin.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Charles Chaplin: My Autobiography"
"Chaplin: Last of the Clowns" Garland Publishing
"My Life in Pictures"
"Chaplin and American Culture"
"Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin" HarperCollins
"Charlie Chaplin: Comic Genius" Harry N. Abrams Inc.
"Charlie Chaplin and His World" Aurum Press
"Oona: Living in the Shadows"
"The Intimate Charlie Chaplin" McFarland
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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