Charles Chaplin


Actor, Director
Charles Chaplin

About

Also Known As
Charles Spencer Chaplin, Sir Charles Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin
Birth Place
London, England, GB
Born
April 16, 1889
Died
December 25, 1977

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 ...

Photos & Videos

The Gold Rush - Lobby Cards
City Lights - Lobby Cards
Modern Times - Lobby Card

Family & Companions

Hetty Kelly
Companion
First love; met in 1908; died in 1918 in England.
Peggy Pearce
Companion
Actor. Dated in 1914.
Mildred Harris
Wife
Married in 1918; divorced in 1920; born on November 29, 1901; died on July 20, 1944.
Pola Negri
Companion
Actor. Had on-again, off-again romance from c. 1923 to 1924.

Bibliography

"The Intimate Charlie Chaplin"
May Reeves and Claire Goll, McFarland (2001)
"Charlie Chaplin and His World"
Kenneth S Lynn, Aurum Press (1998)
"Oona: Living in the Shadows"
Jane Scovell (1998)
"Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin"
Joyce Milton, HarperCollins (1996)

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"

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 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.

Born on April 16, 1889 in London, England, Chaplin was raised in a home with enough gentility to keep a maid, yet at a very early age, he watched his family lose everything. Both his father, Charles, and his mother, Hannah, were music hall entertainers, which gave the young boy early exposure to the world that would eventually become his life. When he was three years old, his father abandoned the family for another woman and left his mother in complete torment. She suffered a nervous breakdown that led her to be institutionalized for much of her remaining life. The utter dismantling of the family unit left Chaplin and his older half-brother, Sydney, at the mercy of the state. Both spent their youth living in pauper homes and workhouses while fending for themselves on the streets. Occasionally they found themselves living with their alcoholic father and his mistress, particularly when their mother landed herself back in the asylum, only to return to charity homes. Though his mother continued to perform, which led to Chaplin making his own debut at the age of five, a serious throat condition effectively ended her career. Meanwhile, the cruel deprivation Chaplin experienced in his formative years deeply scarred and affected him for the rest of his life.

In 1901, when he was 12 years old, Chaplin lost his father to cirrhosis brought on by his father's alcoholism. Prior to that, he began his professional career in earnest in the summer of 1898 as one of the Eight Lancashire Lads, a children's musical troupe that toured England's provincial music halls. Two years after his father's death, he played Billy the pageboy in William Gillette's West End production of "Sherlock Holmes" (1905). At the prompting of his brother, Chaplin then secured a spot in Fred Karno's music hall revue, quickly becoming its star attraction. He remained with the Karno troupe for seven years until film producer Mack Sennett discovered him during the troupe's second tour of America in 1913 and signed the youngster to the Keystone Company. Chaplin's European music hall style was out of place in the mechanized world of Sennett, who ran his studio with production-line efficiency, churning out two films a week and allowing no more than 10 camera set-ups per film. For an actor used to refining a character night after night with the Karno company, the Sennett method seemed careless, sloppy and crude.

Chaplin's first film for Sennett, "Making a Living" (1914), was mediocre, featuring him in standard English music hall garb racing across the frame for the entire reel. His inability to adapt to the rigors of filmmaking, which was still in its infancy at that time, almost led to the young actor's abrupt exit from Hollywood. But he was given a second chance with "Kid Auto Races at Venice" (1914), which turned out to be a much different story. Borrowing a bowler hat, reedy cane and baggy pants from Fatty Arbuckle to go with floppy shoes from Fred Sterling, Chaplin assembled his trademark Tramp costume, forever transforming cinema. In the film, as Chaplin's Tramp arrives to watch the races, he discovers a movie camera and crew recording the event, and in an unstructured half-reel of improvised clowning makes himself the star of the newsreel. After a four-month apprenticeship, Chaplin had by this time begun directing and scripting shorts like "Laughing Gas" (1914), "Mabel's Busy Day" (1914) and "The Knockout" (1914). Separating himself from the Sennett style, he moved the camera closer than Sennett permitted, focusing on character to bring a comedy of emotions to the frenetic Keystone world. He also slowed the breakneck Keystone pace, reducing the number of gags per film and increasing the time devoted to each. Though his technique tended to be invisible, he gradually evolved a principle of cinema based on framing: finding the exact way to frame a shot to reveal its motion and meaning completely, thus avoiding disturbing cuts.

By the end of his Keystone year, Chaplin had become so popular that Sennett's offer of $750 per week - five times his 1914 salary - was not enough to keep him in the fold. Within that year, he had revolutionized film comedy by introducing characterization, mime and slapstick pathos, and his emphasis on character paved the way for the subsequent achievements of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Joining the Essanay Company for $1,250 per week plus a $10,000 signing bonus, Chaplin embarked on a transitional year between the knockabout Sennett farces and the more subtle comedies of psychological observation and moral debate that would mark the mature artist. Though early films for Essanay recalled Sennett, "The Tramp" (1915) looked to the future, firmly establishing the relationship of his screen persona to the respectable social world. After protecting his idealized woman (real life companion Edna Purviance) from harm, Chaplin at first mistakes her kindness for another type of love but ultimately realizes the respectable Ednas of the world are not for tramps like him. Taking to the road, his back to the camera, he walks briskly to his future, with a kick of his feet and a twirl of the cane, providing the ending that became his hallmark for the next two decades.

Ranking among his greatest achievements, Chaplin's 12 Mutual two-reelers of 1916 and 1917 were so inventive, intimate and hilariously clever that they brought him worldwide popularity. In "One A.M." (1916), he once again tailored his Karno drunk for the camera, while "Behind the Screen" (1916) glimpsed life inside a movie studio, and "The Rink" (1916) put him on roller skates for the first time. In "Easy Street" (1917), he was cast in his only performance as a policeman while converting the most sordid subjects - wife-beating, drug addiction, police brutality and rape - into surprisingly funny material for comic routines. He brought drunken chaos to an entire health spa for "The Cure" (1917) before ending his Mutual run with two remarkable films, "The Immigrant" (1917), which identified the plight of a whole class with the solitary Tramp, and "The Adventurer" (1917), which showcased his comic skills as an escaped convict who saves an attractive heiress (Edna Purviance) and her mother from drowning. His non-stop race to escape his police pursuers in the latter was his ultimate tribute to the kind of chase that former boss Sennett had made intrinsic to film comedy. The Mutual films revealed a master at work, stitching mime, satire, sentimentality and slapstick into a seamless whole.

As an independent filmmaker distributing through First National, Chaplin broke out of his popular two-reel format. Though his contract called for 12 two-reelers in one year, he actually took five years to deliver eight films, of which only three were of the specified length. His initial film for First National, "A Dog's Life" (1918), was longer at three reels and richer than any he had attempted, and introduced the mongrel Scraps, an outcast like the Tramp, both of whom must fight to survive in a world of tougher, bigger dogs. He followed with another three-reeler, "Shoulder Arms" (1918), which transported the Tramp to the battlefields of Europe, before suffering a major disappointment with "Sunnyside" (1919), his first film to be ill-received by the public. More than 18 months elapsed before the appearance of "The Kid" (1921), his most ambitious film up to that point, which to the consternation of First National had grown from its planned three-reel length into a massive six. Elaborating on the friend-ally embodied by Scraps, Chaplin worked hard with his child co-star, Jackie Coogan, shaping the boy into a mirror of himself. The result was the biggest hit in motion picture history up until that time outside of D.W. Griffith's epic "Birth of a Nation" (1915).

In 1919, Chaplin, along with fellow stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford and director Griffith, founded United Artists, for whom his first film was "A Woman of Paris" (1923), a romantic melodrama and swan song for long-time co-star Purviance that was rare for its lack of the Tramp. Though quite sophisticated for its time, the film flopped commercially, but became a powerful influence on Ernst Lubitsch, the eventual grand master of the genre. His next four features once again featured the Tramp and his conflict with "normal" social expectations, forming what might be called the so-called marriage group. "The Gold Rush" (1925), featuring the famous feasting on shoe leather scene, suggested that his striking it rich might make him an acceptable mate, but he was back on the road in "The Circus" (1928) after failing to fulfill the heroine's vision of romance. Audiences rewarded the director's bold move of resisting sound for "City Lights" (1931), proving they would still see a silent film if Chaplin was the star. The fourth-biggest grosser of the year told the story of the Tramp's love for a blind flower girl, and though he facilitates the operation that gives her sight, the abrupt conclusion suggests she will not share her life with a lowly tramp - an ending widely considered to be one of the most moving in cinema history.

Silence was the medium in which the Tramp lived, but for "City Lights," Chaplin's concession to sound was providing musical scoring and sound effects. From that point on, he composed the scores for all his sound films, as well as adding musical tracks to silent classics. No longer able to resist synchronized sound, he finally bid farewell to the Tramp in "Modern Times" (1936), allowing him his only talking sequence on film, a jumble of gibberish in the form of a song and dance number. When he took to the road this last time, it was also finally in the company of another, Paulette Goddard, Chaplin's wife at the time, albeit secretly. He had made only four films in 11 years, but his output slowed even further with his final three American films coming in the next 16 years. "The Great Dictator" (1940), his first full-talkie, combined slapstick, satire and social commentary, casting Chaplin in the dual role of a Tramp-like Jewish barber and Adenoid Hynkel, the Hitler-like dictator of Tomania. In addition to the send-up of Hitler as a maniacal clown, Jack Oakie weighed in unforgettably as Benzino Napaloni of rival country Bacteria, a hysterical take-off of Mussolini. At the time, however, Chaplin courted public controversy for his unorthodox support of a second European front alongside the Soviet army. Still, the film was a smash success and earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor, Best Writing and Best Picture.

The Tramp had been a character of 19th century sensibilities, a leftover from a Dickensian world. But with "Monsieur Verdoux" (1947), Chaplin proved he was firmly in the 20th century with a resonant film of his times. Another political fable, "Verdoux" presented him as a man who marries rich, repellent ladies and murders them to support his beloved wife on an idyllic farm. The startling transformation of their precious Tramp into a murderous Bluebeard turned his once adoring public against him. But his creative expression was right on target for a post-Holocaust world. Equating Verdoux's murderous trade with acceptable professions - munitions manufacturing, stock trading, banking - was clearly years ahead of its time, and its wry humor and pacifist sentiments made it quite contemporary compared to later decades. Under fire for his liberal views in an era defined by Joe McCarthy's anti-Communist tirades, Chaplin released a final affectionate tribute to his art and its traditions, "Limelight" (1952). But because of his public support for a joint front with the Soviets during World War II, he became a target of FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, who revoked Chaplin's re-entry permit after learning the actor had briefly left the country for his native England. Having never become an American citizen, Chaplin settled with his family in Switzerland, while "Limelight" failed to receive American distribution until 1972.

"Limelight" functioned as Chaplin's cinematic swan song. In his most autobiographical and most underrated work, Chaplin played Calvero, an old, drunken has-been comedian struggling for a comeback - a superb commentary on his own fabulous career, one which saw the triumph and decline of the physical comedy he had brought to silent films from the English music hall. For the last time on celluloid, he exercised classic pantomime bits that recalled the Tramp, like taming a flea and imagining himself a great lion tamer. Chaplin's hilarious routine with the great Buster Keaton - the only time the two appeared together - before Calvero collapses and dies is his last significant screen image, a fitting finale to a wondrous career. Meanwhile, public reaction against Chaplin was so rabid that his first European film, "A King in New York" (1957), a slight satire on American consumerism and political paranoia, remained unreleased in the United States until 1973. Chaplin's final film as a director, "A Countess From Hong Kong" (1967), in which he merely made a cameo appearance as a waiter opposite stars Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando, was even more disappointing, suffering as had its predecessor at the hands of a low budget, tight schedule and a production team of strangers.

Throughout his career, Chaplin was involved with numerous women, some of who he married; others he did not, while siring a great number of children, particularly with his last wife, Oona O'Neill, daughter of famed playwright Eugene O'Neill. He had a longtime affair with aforementioned costar Edna Purviance before he married child actress, Mildred Harris, when she was 16 - a penchant for underage girls he displayed throughout his life. Following the death of their newborn child, they divorced in 1920 and Chaplin moved on to a high profile romance with Polish actress Pola Negri. He next married the 16-year-old actress Lita Grey, with whom he had two sons, while reportedly carrying on with starlet and William Randolph Hearst mistress, Marion Davies. In the mid- to late-1930s, some controversy sprang over whether or not Chaplin had married star Paulette Goddard, though the two were living together for a number of years in the actor's Beverly Hills home. Perhaps most troublesome was his brief fling with aspiring actress, Joan Barry, who later claimed that Chaplin was the father of her daughter. A highly public and tawdry court battle ensued that ended with a judge dismissing a negative blood test as evidence and ordering Chaplin to pay for child support. At 54 years old, Chaplin married O'Neill when she was barely 18 and proceeded to father eight children with her, the last coming when he was 73. Chaplin and O'Neill stayed together for the remainder of his life.

Almost 20 years after he was effectively exiled from the country that once claimed him as his own, Hollywood welcomed the Tramp back, presenting Chaplin with an Honorary Academy Award amid the loudest and longest ovation in its history - a full 12 minutes when all was told. His speech consisted of a simple ode of thanks for being invited while stating that words for such a moment would seem futile. The frail man of 82, who had long since given up radical politics, also picked up an Oscar the following year for writing the score of "Limelight," which was eligible since it had not played the Los Angeles area before 1972. His final great tribute came when Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in 1975. With his very name inextricably linked to the very idea of movies, Chaplin's stature and legacy only stood to grow following his death on Dec. 25, 1977 after years of declining health that led to diminished speech and the use of a wheelchair. Despite some personal failings and public outcry over his politics, The Little Tramp brought countless joy and sublimity to a world always in desperate need of laughter. Writer James Agee perhaps said it best: "Of all comedians, he worked most deeply and most shrewdly within a realization of what a human being is, and is up against. The Tramp is as centrally representative of humanity, as many-sided and as mysterious, as Hamlet, and it seems unlikely that any dancer or actor can ever have excelled him in eloquence, variety, or poignancy of motion."

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)
Director
The Chaplin Revue (1964)
Director
A King in New York (1957)
Director
Limelight (1953)
Director
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
Director
The Gold Rush (1942)
Director
The Great Dictator (1941)
Director
Modern Times (1936)
Director
City Lights (1931)
Director
The Circus (1928)
Director
A Woman of the Sea (1926)
Director
The Gold Rush (1925)
Director
The Pilgrim (1923)
Director
A Woman of Paris (1923)
Director
Nice and Friendly (1922)
Director
Pay Day (1922)
Director
The Kid (1921)
Director
The Idle Class (1921)
Director
Sunnyside (1919)
Director
A Day's Pleasure (1919)
Director
Chase Me Charlie (1918)
Director
The Bond (1918)
Director
A Dog's Life (1918)
Director
Shoulder Arms (1918)
Director
Charlie Chaplin's Burlesque on "Carmen" (1916)
Director
The Fireman (1916)
Director
The Count (1916)
Director
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 2 (1916)
Director
One A.M. (1916)
Director
The Pawnshop (1916)
Director
The Vagabond (1916)
Director
The Rink (1916)
Director
The Floorwalker (1916)
Director
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 3 (1916)
Director
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 1 (1916)
Director
Police! (1916)
Director
A Night in the Show (1915)
Director
The Tramp (1915)
Director
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 2 (1915)
Director
His New Job (1915)
Director
In the Park (1915)
Director
A Jitney Elopement (1915)
Director
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 4 (1915)
Director
A Night Out (1915)
Director
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 1 (1915)
Director
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 3 (1915)
Director
Laughing Gas (1914)
Director
The Property Man (1914)
Director
The New Janitor (1914)
Director
Those Love Pangs (1914)
Director
Dough and Dynamite (1914)
Director
Gentlemen of Nerve (1914)
Director
His Musical Career (1914)
Director
Mabel's Busy Day (1914)
Director
A Busy Day (1914)
Director
The Fatal Mallet (1914)
Director
Chaplin at Keystone Part 4 (1914)
Director
Her Friend the Bandit (1914)
Director
The Rounders (1914)
Director
Chaplin at Keystone Part 3 (1914)
Director
Chaplin at Keystone Studios (1914)
Director
Caught In A Cabaret (1914)
Director
His Trysting Place (1914)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008)
Himself
Chaplin's Goliath (1996)
Himself
American Lifestyles (1987)
It's Showtime (1976)
Himself
Chaplinesque, My Life and Hard Times (1972)
Himself
A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)
Old steward
The Chaplin Revue (1964)
When Comedy Was King (1960)
A King in New York (1957)
King Shahdov
Limelight (1953)
Calvero
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
Henri Verdoux, alias Varnay, alias [Captain Louis] Bonheur, alias Floray
The Gold Rush (1942)
The Tramp
The Great Dictator (1941)
[Adenoid] Hynkel, Dictator of Tomania/A Jewish barber
Modern Times (1936)
A factory worker
City Lights (1931)
A tramp
Show People (1928)
Himself
The Circus (1928)
Charlie, a tramp
The Gold Rush (1925)
A Lone Prospector
Souls for Sale (1923)
A Woman of Paris (1923)
Station porter
The Pilgrim (1923)
The Pilgrim
Pay Day (1922)
Laborer
Nice and Friendly (1922)
The Tramp
The Kid (1921)
The tramp
The Idle Class (1921)
The Tramp
A Day's Pleasure (1919)
The Tramp
Sunnyside (1919)
Farm Handyman
Chase Me Charlie (1918)
Charlie
The Bond (1918)
A Dog's Life (1918)
The Tramp
Shoulder Arms (1918)
Doughboy
National Association's All-Star Picture (1917)
Charlie Chaplin's Burlesque on "Carmen" (1916)
Darn Hosiery, Don José
The Essanay-Chaplin Revue of 1916 (1916)
The tramp
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 4 (1916)
The Count (1916)
One A.M. (1916)
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 1 (1916)
The Vagabond (1916)
Police! (1916)
The Floorwalker (1916)
The Fireman (1916)
The Pawnshop (1916)
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 2 (1916)
The Rink (1916)
A Waiter
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 3 (1916)
Mixed Up (1915)
His New Job (1915)
A Night Out (1915)
A Night in the Show (1915)
Mr. Pest
His Regeneration (1915)
The Tramp (1915)
A Jitney Elopement (1915)
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 2 (1915)
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 1 (1915)
In the Park (1915)
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 4 (1915)
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 3 (1915)
Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914)
Charlie, a stranger
Caught In A Cabaret (1914)
Between Showers (1914)
The Star Boarder (1914)
Those Love Pangs (1914)
Chaplin at Keystone Studios (1914)
The New Janitor (1914)
Tango Tangles (1914)
The Property Man (1914)
His Trysting Place (1914)
Her Friend the Bandit (1914)
Chaplin at Keystone Part 3 (1914)
Mabel's Busy Day (1914)
Mabel's Strange Predicament (1914)
Chaplin at Keystone Part 1 (1914)
Chaplin at Keystone Part 2 (1914)
Laughing Gas (1914)
His Musical Career (1914)
His Favorite Pastime (1914)
Dough and Dynamite (1914)
Chaplin at Keystone Part 4 (1914)
A Busy Day (1914)
Cruel, Cruel Love (1914)
Twenty Minutes of Love (1914)
The Fatal Mallet (1914)
The Rounders (1914)
Gentlemen of Nerve (1914)
The Knockout (1914)

Writer (Feature Film)

Chaplin (1992)
Book As Source Material
A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)
Screenwriter
The Chaplin Revue (1964)
Screenwriter
A King in New York (1957)
Screenwriter
Limelight (1953)
Original story and Screenplay
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
Original Story
The Gold Rush (1942)
Screenplay
The Great Dictator (1941)
Screenwriter
Modern Times (1936)
Writer
City Lights (1931)
Screenwriter
The Circus (1928)
Writer
The Gold Rush (1925)
Writer
The Pilgrim (1923)
Writer
A Woman of Paris (1923)
Writer
Nice and Friendly (1922)
Screenwriter
Pay Day (1922)
Screenwriter
The Kid (1921)
Writer
The Idle Class (1921)
Screenwriter
A Day's Pleasure (1919)
Screenwriter
Sunnyside (1919)
Screenwriter
Chase Me Charlie (1918)
Scen
The Bond (1918)
Screenwriter
A Dog's Life (1918)
Screenwriter
Shoulder Arms (1918)
Screenwriter
Charlie Chaplin's Burlesque on "Carmen" (1916)
Scen
The Pawnshop (1916)
Screenwriter
Police! (1916)
Screenwriter
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 1 (1916)
Writer
The Count (1916)
Screenwriter
One A.M. (1916)
Screenwriter
The Rink (1916)
Screenwriter
The Floorwalker (1916)
Screenwriter
The Fireman (1916)
Screenwriter
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 2 (1916)
Writer
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies Part 3 (1916)
Writer
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 4 (1915)
Writer
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 1 (1915)
Writer
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 2 (1915)
Writer
A Jitney Elopement (1915)
Screenwriter
The Tramp (1915)
Screenwriter
Chaplin's Essanay Comedies Part 3 (1915)
Writer
A Night Out (1915)
Screenwriter
A Night in the Show (1915)
Screenwriter
In the Park (1915)
Screenwriter
His New Job (1915)
Screenwriter
Gentlemen of Nerve (1914)
Screenwriter
Those Love Pangs (1914)
Screenwriter
Chaplin at Keystone Part 1 (1914)
Writer
Her Friend the Bandit (1914)
Screenwriter
Mabel's Busy Day (1914)
Screenwriter
His Musical Career (1914)
Screenwriter
Caught In A Cabaret (1914)
Screenwriter
A Busy Day (1914)
Screenwriter
The New Janitor (1914)
Screenwriter
His Trysting Place (1914)
Screenwriter
The Fatal Mallet (1914)
Screenwriter
Laughing Gas (1914)
Screenwriter
The Rounders (1914)
Screenwriter
Chaplin at Keystone Part 4 (1914)
Writer
Chaplin at Keystone Part 3 (1914)
Writer
Chaplin at Keystone Part 2 (1914)
Writer
The Property Man (1914)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)
Presented By
The Chaplin Revue (1964)
Producer
A King in New York (1957)
Producer
Limelight (1953)
Producer
The Gold Rush (1942)
Producer
The Great Dictator (1941)
Producer
Modern Times (1936)
Producer
The Circus (1928)
Producer
The Gold Rush (1925)
Producer
A Woman of Paris (1923)
Producer
Pay Day (1922)
Producer
The Kid (1921)
Producer
The Idle Class (1921)
Producer
Sunnyside (1919)
Producer
A Day's Pleasure (1919)
Producer
A Dog's Life (1918)
Producer
Shoulder Arms (1918)
Producer
The Pawnshop (1916)
Producer
One A.M. (1916)
Producer
The Rink (1916)
Producer

Editing (Feature Film)

Modern Times (1936)
Film Editor
City Lights (1931)
Film Editor
The Circus (1928)
Film Editor
The Gold Rush (1925)
Film Editor

Music (Feature Film)

Joker (2019)
Song
Top Five (2014)
Song
Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
Song
Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss (1998)
Song
Hope Floats (1998)
Song
This Boy's Life (1993)
Song
Chaplin (1992)
Music
Bad Blood (1987)
Song ("Limelight")
Unknown Chaplin (1986)
Theme Music
Smile (1975)
Music
Gentleman Tramp (1975)
Music
A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)
Composer
The Chaplin Revue (1964)
Music
A King in New York (1957)
Music
Limelight (1953)
Arrangements
Limelight (1953)
Music Composition
Limelight (1953)
Composer
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
Music Composition
Modern Times (1936)
Music Composition
City Lights (1931)
Music Composition
City Lights (1931)
Composer

Dance (Feature Film)

Limelight (1953)
Choreography

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008)
Other
It's Showtime (1976)
Other
Gentleman Tramp (1975)
Other
Chaplinesque, My Life and Hard Times (1972)
Other

Director (Special)

Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003)
Director

Cast (Special)

Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003)
Clavero

Writer (Special)

Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003)
Screenwriter
Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003)
From Story

Producer (Special)

Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003)
Producer

Music (Special)

Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (2003)
Music
Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003)
Music

Dance (Special)

Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003)
Choreography

Special Thanks (Special)

Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003)
Screenwriter
Chaplin Today: Limelight (2003)
From Story

Misc. Crew (Special)

How Chaplin Became the Tramp (2014)
Archival Footage

Director (Short)

The Immigrant (1917)
Director (Uncredited)
Recreation (1914)
Director
Recreation (1914)
Director (Uncredited)
His Prehistoric Past (1914)
Director
The Face on the Barroom Floor (1914)
Director

Cast (Short)

The Immigrant (1917)
A Thief Catcher (1914)
Recreation (1914)
Making a Living (1914)
His Prehistoric Past (1914)
Mabel's Married Life (1914)
The Face on the Barroom Floor (1914)
A Film Johnnie (1914)
Mabel at the Wheel (1914)
Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)

Writer (Short)

The Immigrant (1917)
Writer (Uncredited)
Mabel's Married Life (1914)
Writer
The Face on the Barroom Floor (1914)
Writer
Recreation (1914)
Writer (Uncredited)
Recreation (1914)
Writer
His Prehistoric Past (1914)
Writer

Producer (Short)

The Immigrant (1917)
Producer (Uncredited)

Editing (Short)

The Immigrant (1917)
Film Editor
Recreation (1914)
Editor

Life Events

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

1952

Denied reentry into America after attending the London premiere of "Limelight" (only film in which he appared with Buster Keaton), settled in Switzerland

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

Photo Collections

The Gold Rush - Lobby Cards
The Gold Rush - Lobby Cards
City Lights - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from City Lights (1931), starring and directed by Charles Chaplin. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Modern Times - Lobby Card
Here is a Lobby Card from Modern Times (1936), starring Charles Chaplin. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Circus - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Charles Chaplin's The Circus (1928). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Circus, The (1928) - Swing Little Girl Opening sequence, from the 1969 re-release, featuring the star and director atypically billed as "Charlie," plus the song he wrote and recorded for this version, from "Charles" Chaplin's The Circus, 1928.
City Lights (1931) - Boxing Match Famous scene in which the tramp (writer, producer, director and star Charles Chaplin) becomes a prize fighter, hoping to raise money for an operation for "A Blind Girl" (Virgina Cherrill), briefly mistaking his corner-man for her, in City Lights, 1931.
City Lights (1931) - Wait For Your Change! The tramp (writer, producer, director and star Charles Chaplin) meets the flower seller, "A Blind Girl," (Virginia Cherrill), who will become his raison d'etre, early in City Lights, 1931.
City Lights (1931) - Let's Buy Some Flowers After a night of carousing with "An Eccentric Millionaire" (Harry Myers), the tramp (writer, producer, director and star Charles Chaplin) is overjoyed to once again meet "A Blind Girl" (Virginia Cherrill), in City Lights, 1931.
City Lights (1931) - My Friend For Life! The tramp (writer, producer, director and star Charles Chaplin) meets and quite by accident saves "An Eccentric Millionaire" (Harry Myers), forming a bond in City Lights, 1931.
City Lights (1931) - We Donate This Monument... Famous opening scene, the tramp (writer, producer, director and star Charles Chaplin) is discovered at the unveiling of a statue, in City Lights, 1931.
Gold Rush, The (1925) - Three Days From Anywhere Not a bad illustration of scale, writer, director and star Charles Chaplin with cameraman Roland Totheroh shooting partly on location near Truckee, Nevada, also introducing Big Jim (Mack Swain), opening The Gold Rush, 1925.
Gold Rush, The (1925) - Thanksgiving Dinner Their nefarious third partner gone looking for food, writer, director, star and Englishman Charles Chaplin prepares a famous Thanksgiving dinner for himself and Big Jim (Mack Swain), in the Alaskan wilderness, in The Gold Rush, 1925.
Modern Times (1936) - Time Marches On Most of the climax of the writer, director, producer and star's opening segment, the factory worker famously caught up in the works, early in Charles Chaplin's Modern Times, 1936.
Modern Times (1936) - Child Of The Waterfront The factory worker played by the writer, director, producer and star, out of the hospital but into new trouble as an accidental activist, then the introduction of his love interest, Paulette Godard as "the gamin," in Charles Chaplin's Modern Times, 1936.
Monsieur Verdoux (1947) - You Must Sign For It The first appearance of the writer, director and star, Charles Chaplin as the title character who has caused concern back in England with the family of his new middle-aged wife Thelma, especially regarding her money, in Monsieur Verdoux, 1947.
Monsieur Verdoux (1947) - These Are Desperate Days We have learned that Charles Chaplin, the director, writer and title character, marries and kills women for a living, here for the first time we meet his sympathetic, preferred family, son Peter (Allison Roddan) and wife Mona (Mady Correll), in Monsieur Verdoux, 1947.

Trailer

Promo

Family

Charles Chaplin
Father
Music hall entertainer. Born in 1863; left family when Chaplin was a young child; died of alcoholism in 1901.
Hannah Chaplin
Mother
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).
Sydney Chaplin
Half-Brother
Actor, business manager. Born in 1885; handled most of brother's business affairs in the 1920s; died in 1965.
Wheeler Dryden
Half-Brother
Actor. Died in 1957.
Charles Chaplin Jr
Son
Actor. Born in 1925; mother, Lita Grey; debuted in "Limelight" (1952) as one of the clowns; died in 1968.
Sydney Earl Chaplin
Son
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).
Geraldine Chaplin
Daughter
Actor. Born on July 31, 1944; mother, Oona O'Neill; debuted as street urchin in "Limelight"; portrayed her grandmother in biopic "Chaplin" (1992).
Michael Chaplin
Son
Actor. Born in 1946; mother, Oona O'Neill; debuted in father's "A King in New York" (1957).
Josephine Chaplin
Daughter
Actor. Born in 1949; mother, Oona O'Neill.
Victoria Chaplin
Daughter
Circus performer. Born in 1951; mother, Oona O'Neill.
Eugene Chaplin
Son
Born in 1953; mother, Oona O'Neill.
Jane Chaplin
Daughter
Born in 1957; mother, Oona O'Neill.
Annette Chaplin
Daughter
Born in 1959; mother, Oona O'Neill.
Christopher Chaplin
Son
Actor. Born in 1962; mother, Oona O'Neill.
James Thieree
Grandson
Circus acrobat. Made film debut in Peter Greenaway's "Prospero's Books" (1991).
Dolores Chaplin
Granddaughter
Actor, model. Appeared in the film "The Ice Rink" (2000).
Kiera Chaplin
Granddaughter
Actor. Born c. 1981; daughter of Eugene Chaplin.

Companions

Hetty Kelly
Companion
First love; met in 1908; died in 1918 in England.
Peggy Pearce
Companion
Actor. Dated in 1914.
Mildred Harris
Wife
Married in 1918; divorced in 1920; born on November 29, 1901; died on July 20, 1944.
Pola Negri
Companion
Actor. Had on-again, off-again romance from c. 1923 to 1924.
Lillita MacMurray
Wife
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.
Louise Brooks
Companion
Actor, dancer. Had relationship in summer 1925.
Paulette Goddard
Wife
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.
Oona O'Neill
Wife
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.

Bibliography

"The Intimate Charlie Chaplin"
May Reeves and Claire Goll, McFarland (2001)
"Charlie Chaplin and His World"
Kenneth S Lynn, Aurum Press (1998)
"Oona: Living in the Shadows"
Jane Scovell (1998)
"Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin"
Joyce Milton, HarperCollins (1996)
"Charlie Chaplin: Comic Genius"
David Robinson, Harry N. Abrams Inc. (1996)
"My Life in Pictures"
Charlie Chaplin (1974)
"Chaplin: Last of the Clowns"
Parker Tyler, Garland Publishing (1972)
"Charles Chaplin: My Autobiography"
(1964)
"Chaplin and American Culture"
Charles Mayland

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"