Charles Chaplin was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era.
Charlie Chaplin, considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera.
Chaplin was born in Walworth, London, England on April 16th, 1889 to Charles and Hannah (Hill) Chaplin, both music hall performers, who were married on June 22nd, 1885. After Charles Sr. separated from Hannah to perform in New York City, Hannah then tried to resurrect her stage career. Unfortunately, her singing voice had a tendency to break at unexpected moments.
Chaplin began his official acting career at the age of eight, touring with The Eight Lancashire Lads.
He traveled west to California in December 1913 and signed on with Keystone Studios’ popular comedy director Mack Sennett, who had seen Chaplin perform on stage in New York.
Chaplin’s life and career was full of scandal and controversy. His first big scandal was during World War I, during which time his loyalty to England, his home country, was questioned. He had never applied for US citizenship, but claimed that he was a “paying visitor” to the United States. Many British citizens called Chaplin a coward and a slacker. Chaplin’s later film El gran dictador (1940), which was his first “talkie”, also created a stir. In the film, Chaplin plays a humorous caricature of Adolf Hitler.
Chaplin was married four times and had a total of 11 children.
In contrast to many of his boisterous characters, Chaplin was a quiet man who kept to himself a lot. He also had an “un-millionaire” way of living. Even after he had accumulated millions, he continued to live in shabby accommodations.
In 1921, Chaplin was decorated by the French government for his outstanding work as a filmmaker, and was elevated to the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1952. In 1972, he was honored with an Academy Award for his “incalculable effect in making motion pictures the art form of the century.” He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1975 Queen’s Honours List for his services to entertainment. Chaplin’s other works included musical scores he composed for many of his films. He also authored two autobiographical books, “My Autobiography” in 1964 and its companion volume, “My Life in Pictures” in 1974.
Chaplin died of natural causes on December 25, 1977 at his home in Switzerland. In 1978, Chaplin’s corpse was stolen from its grave and was not recovered for three months; he was re-buried in a vault surrounded by cement. Charlie Chaplin was considered one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of American cinema, whose movies were and still are popular throughout the world, and have even gained notoriety as time progresses. His films show, through the Little Tramp’s positive outlook on life in a world full of chaos, that the human spirit has and always will remain the same.