Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) because one the most famous stars in
motion-picture history. During the era of silent comedies, he was often
called “the funniest man in the world”.
Chaplin also gained complete control over production of his films. He
wrote and directed nearly all his films, and he composed the music
scores for all his sound pictures.
Chaplin’s stardom began in 1914, when he first appeared as “the Tramp”
or “the Little Fellow”. Looking undersized and undernourished, Chaplin
wove battered pants much large. He walked in a shuffling manner that
suggested he had never worn a pair of shoes his own size. But this
figure of poverty also wove gloves and carried a bamboo cane that seemed
to reflect a spirit that bounces back from the most crushing defeats.
The last shot in many of Chaplin’s early silent films shows him walking
down a road into the distance. The Tramp was home less and penniless
once more, but with hat tilted and cane flourishing, he again was ready
for whatever adventure lay around the corner.
In 1919, Chaplin formed the United Artists film corporation whith actor
Douglas Faivbank Sr., actress Mary Pickford and director D.W. Griffith.
He made fewer pictures, and those he made were longer and more serious.
He continued to create laughter, but he also seemed to be commenting on
why the world of respectability and authority offered so little to the
His films during this time included “The Kid” (1920) and “The Gold
Rush” (1925). Chaplin played the Tramp in these films and in his first
two sound films, “City Lights” (1931) and “Modern Times” (1936). In “The
Great Dictator” (1940) he played two roles, a humble Jewish barber and a
tyrant based on the German dictator Adolf Hitler. Chaplin played a
murdered in “Monsieur Verdoux” (1947) and an elderly music hall comedian
in Limelight (1952).
Charles Spencer Chaplin was born into a poor London family. He became a
variety and music hall performed and began touring the United States in
1910. He lived in the U.S.A. for more that 40 years but never became a
citizen. In 1943 Chaplin married Dona O’Neill. It was Chaplin’s fourth
In the 1940’s and early 1950’s, Chaplin was a center of controversy.
Some people criticized Chaplin’s personal life as immoral and accused
him of supporting Communism. In 1952, Chaplin’s traveled to Europe.
While he was in Europe, the U.S. government announced that Chaplin could
not reenter the United States unless hearings were held on his personal
life and political views. Chaplin decided in Switzerland.
In 1972, Chaplin visited the United States to participate in ceremonies
in his honor in New York City and Los Angeles. Chaplin received an
honorary Oscar at the annual Academy Award ceremonies in April. The
award praised Chaplin “for the incalculable effect he has had in making
motion pictures the art form of this century”. In 1975, Chaplin was
knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
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