Charlie Chaplin – silent films star
Sir Charles Chaplin was film actor, director, and writer. He was one of the most original creators in the history of the cinema. He first went on stage when he was five years old. At the age of 21 he joined a show that toured America. In 1914, he went to Hollywood. In his first year there he made 35 short comedy films! He always appeared as a tramp with a moustache, a jacket that was too small for him, a bowler hat, large boots and a walking cane. His first full-length film was The Kid. In 1940, he made his first ‘talking picture’, The Great Dictator, and for the first time he didn’t appear in his familiar role of the tramp. He left America in the 1950s and settled in Switzerland with his fourth wife.
Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889 in Kennington, London. His mother, a talented singer, spent most of her life in and out of mental hospitals; his father was a fairly successful vaudevillian until he began drinking.
Charlie and his elder half-brother, Sydney, found themselves in and out of state orphanages or living on the streets, where they danced for pennies. At the age of ten Charlie left school and worked with various touring theatrical companies.
By the age of 19 Charlie had become one of the most popular music-hall performers in England.
In 1910 Chaplin went to the United States and was chosen by film maker Mack Sennett to appear in the silent Keystone comedy series. Chaplin created the role of the tramp.
In 1918 Chaplin built his own studio and signed a contract with National Films.
In 1923 Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford formed United Artists to produce featurelength movies of high quality.
In 1975, he became Sir Charles Chaplin after being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
In 1972, his name was added to the‘Walk of Fame’ in Los Angeles.
In 1964 Chaplin published My Autobiography and My Life in Pictures in 1974.
Charlie Chaplin died at the age of 88, on December 25, 1977 in his sleep in Switzerland. On March 1, 1978, his body was stolen from its grave, but was recovered within a couple of weeks, and the perpetrators were found and tried for the theft.
A film about Chaplin’s life, titled Chaplin was released in 1992.
In 1918, 28-year-old Chaplin had a liaison with an unsuitable 16-year-old named Mildred Harris. He married her when she claimed pregnancy. In 1919 she gave birth to a son, who lived only a couple of days. The marriage was over months later.
In November 1924, Chaplin married Lita Grey. He was 35 years old and Lita was 16. His biographer Joyce Milton wrote that Chaplin and Lita Grey’s relationship became the basis of Nabokov’s novel Lolita. By the beginning of 1927, Lita had left Charlie, taking their two sons, Charles Spencer Jr. and Sidney, with her.
Then he secretly married Paulette Goddard. He was 44 years old and Paulette was 19. They divorced in 1942.
In 1943 the actor married Oona O’Neill, daughter of playwright Eugene. She was 18 and he 54 and had eight children, one of whom became actress Geraldine Chaplin, who played Charlie’s mother Hannah in Richard Attenborough’s film, Chaplin (1992). Charlie was 72 years old when Oona gave birth to their last child.
– Chaplin had never become a United States citizen
– Chaplin was also a good composer. He wrote music for many of his films.
– In 1954, Chaplin was awarded the Soviet International Peace Prize.
– British Benny Hill was the Charlie’s favorite comedian in the last years of his life.