Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889 in Walworth, London, and lived a Dickensian childhood, shared with his brother, Sydney, that included extreme poverty, workhouses and seeing his mother’s mental decline put her into an institution. Both his parents, though separated when he was very young, were music hall artists, his father quite famously so. But it was his mother Charlie idolized and was inspired by during his visits backstage while she performed, to take up such a career for himself. He achieved his ambition when he joined a dancing troop, the Eight Lancashire Lads, and this eventually led onto parts in Sherlock Holmes and Casey’s Court Circus. Sydney, meanwhile, had joined the famous Fred Karno Company and quickly became a leading player and writer therein.

He managed to get Charlie involved, and he too became a Karno star. For both boys, Karno was almost a college of comedy for them, and the period had a huge impact on Charlie especially. In 1910 Charlie toured the U.S. with the Karno group and returned for another in 1912. It was on this tour that he was head hunted by Mack Sennett and his Keystone Film Company, and Charlie was thus introduced into the medium of film. His first film, in 1914, was aptly titled Making A Living, and it was directed by Henry Lehrman.

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He starred in many of his Keystones along side Mabel Normand, who also directed three of his films, but it wasn’t until Twenty Minutes of Love that he had a taste of directing himself, and this quickly became the only way he worked. His success was such that he was able to move from one company to another, each time into a better deal. In 1915, after thirty-five films, he moved to Essanay, and it was here he really found his feet, not to mention his longest serving leading lady, Edna Purviance. Notable films during this period include The Champion, The Tramp and The Bank. In 1916 he moved to Lone Star Mutual, with even greater control and financial rewards. Here he made the definitive Chaplin short comedies, The Rink, Easy Street, The Cure and The Immigrant. First National were next, and it was here he constructed his full length masterpiece, The Kid. Shorter comedies of note at this time included Sunnyside and The Idle Class.

Along with his great friend, Douglas Fairbanks, as well as Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith, Chaplin formed United Artists in 1919. He made his first film for them in 1923, the Edna Purviance vehicle, A Woman of Paris, perhaps the least known of his films, but it was followed by the Chaplin classics – The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights and Modern Times. It wasn’t until 1940 that he made his first talkie, The Great Dictator, to be followed by the more refined Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight, a look back to the music hall world of his youth. Limelight (1952) was the last film he made in America. McCarthyite political maneuverings effectively ejected him from the country and he wasn’t to return until 1972, when he received a special Academy Award.

In the meantime, though heartily welcomed back to Britain, he moved to Switzerland with his wife, Oona O’ Neill, and their children. He made two more films, A King In New York (1957, with Dawn Addams) and A Countess From Hong Kong (1967, with Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando) and spent his final years writing music for his films and enjoying his family life before he died, at 4 A.M. on Christmas Day in 1977. Bibliography Robinson, David. Charlie Chaplin: The Art of Comedy (1995) Mitchell, Glenn. The Chaplin Encyclopedia (1997) Karney, Robyn and Cross, Robin.

The Life and Times of Charlie Chaplin (1992) Gifford, Denis. The Comic Art of Charlie Chaplin (1989) McCabe, John. Charlie Chaplin (1978) Payne, Robert. The Great Charlie (1957).

Charlie Chaplin

By: Anonymous
Charlie Chaplin Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in Walworth, London on April 16, 1889. His parents, Charles and Hannah Chaplin were music hall performers in England, his father was quite well know in the profession. Charlie had one sibling, a brother named Sydney. At a very early age Charlie was told that someday he would be the most famous person in the world. Charlie first appeared onstage at the age of six as an unscheduled substitute for his mother. When his performance was over the audience was throwing money up onto the stage, they loved him, and he was on his way to being the most famous person in he world. Charlie had a very difficult childhood, by the time he had performed onstage for the first time his father had already left home permently. In June of 1896 Charlie, Sydney and their mother were forced to enter the Lambeth Workhouse for the poor. Soon after the two boys were sent to Hanwell School for Orphans and Destitute Children. Two years later after Charlies mother had a breakdown he and Sydney went to live with their father and his mistress. In the same year Charlie joined the dancing troupe, the Eight Lancashire Lads. Which eventually led to his parts in Sherlock Holmes and a few other parts. At the same time his brother Sydney had joined the famous Fred Karno Company and there he quickly became a leading player and writer. Late in the year 1900 Charlie is cast as a cat in a production of Cinderella at the London Hippodrome. Less than a month later his father died from Alcoholism. Soon afterwards his mother Hannah is committed to the Cane Hill Asylum, and never completely recovers her sanity. For almost the next ten years Charlie performs in various rolls throughout Europe. In September of 1910 Charlie leaves Europe with the Karno Troupe for a tour in the United States and Canada. Over the next fifty-six years Chaplin stars in, directs, produces, and composes music for countless films in America and throughout the world. The most notable of these films would be, The Tramp (1915) and The Kid (1921). On October 23, 1918 Chaplin married Mildred Harris. In the same year as The Kid Charlie gives his mother a home in California where she dies on April 28, 1928. From 1952 to 1972 Charlie did not visit the United States for a multitude of reasons, one reason being, Charlie was accused of being a Communist by a McCarthyite. Throughout his time Charlie’s life was filled with scandals, he was married four times and one of which, to Paulette Goddard is still filled with mystery. Charlie was awarded quite a few honors, including; The Actors Guild Award, an honorary Oscar, the Golden Lion Statuette, and an Oscar. The New York Film Critics vote Chaplin the best actor of the year award in 1940, but he turned it down. And to top everything off was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth 11, of England. Charlie died on Christmas day 1977 at 4:00 A.M. at his estate in Switzerland at the age of eighty-eight.
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