Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889, in London, England.
Father's name: Charles Chaplin, Sr.
Mother's name: Hannah Smith
Brother: Sydney Chaplin
Spouse: Oona O'Neill (m. 1943–1977), Paulette Goddard (m. 1936–1942), Lita Grey (m. 1924–1927), Mildred Harris (m. 1918–1920)
Children: Geraldine Chaplin, Sydney Chaplin, Josephine Chaplin, Charles Chaplin, Jr., Victoria Chaplin, Christopher Chaplin, Michael Chaplin, Annette Emily Chaplin, Eugene Chaplin, Jane Chaplin, Norman Spencer Chaplin
Charlie, The Little Tramp, Charlot
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Born on April 16, 1889, in London, England, Charlie Chaplin worked with a children's dance troupe before making a huge mark on the big screen. His character "The Tramp" relied on pantomime and quirky movements to become an iconic figure of the silent-film era. Chaplin went on to become a director, making films like City Lights and Modern Times, and co-founded the United Artists Corporation. He died in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland, on December 25, 1977.
Famous for his character "The Tramp," the sweet little man with a bowler hat, mustache and cane, Charlie Chaplin was an iconic figure of the silent-film era and one of film's first superstars, elevating the industry in a way few could have ever imagined. Born Charles Spencer Chaplin in London, England, on April 16, 1889, Charlie Chaplin's rise to fame is a true rags-to-riches story. His father, a notorious drinker, abandoned Chaplin, his mother and his older half-brother, Sydney, not long after Chaplin's birth. That left Chaplin and his brother in the hands of their mother, a vaudevillian and music hall singer who went by the stage name Lily Harley. Chaplin's mother, who would later suffer severe mental issues and have to be committed to an asylum, was able to support her family for a few years. But in a performance that would introduce her youngest boy to the world of performance, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the stage manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he'd heard sing, onto the stage to replace her. Chaplin lit up the audience, wowing them with his natural presence and comedic angle (at one point he imitated his mother's cracking voice). But the episode meant the end for Hannah. Her singing voice never returned and she eventually ran out of money. For a time, Charlie and Sydney had to make a new, temporary home for themselves in London's tough workhouses.
Armed with his mother's love of the stage, Chaplin was determined to make it in show business himself and in 1897 using his mother's contacts landed with a clog dancing troupe named the Eight Lancashire Lads. It was a short stint, and not a terribly profitable one, forcing the go-getter Chaplin to make ends meet anyway he could.I (was) newsvendor, printer, toymaker, doctor's boy, etc., but during these occupational digressions, I never lost sight of my ultimate aim to become an actor," Chaplin later recounted. "So, between jobs I would polish my shoes, brush my clothes, put on a clean collar and make periodic calls at a theatrical agency. Eventually other stage work did come his way. Charlie Chaplin made his acting debut as a pageboy in a production of Sherlock Holmes. From there he toured with a vaudeville outfit named Casey's Court Circus and in 1908 teamed up with the Fred Karno pantomime troupe, where Chaplin became one of its stars as The Drunk in the comedic sketch, A Night in an English Music Hall. With the Karno troupe, Chaplin got his first taste of the United States, where he caught the eye of film producer Mack Sennett, who signed Chaplin to a contract for a $150 a week.
Nearing the end of his life, Chaplin did make one last return to visit to the United States in 1972, when he was awarded a special Academy Award from the Motion Picture Academy. The trip came just six years after Chaplin's final film, A Countess from Hong Kong (1966), the filmmaker's first and only color movie. Despite a cast that included Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando, the film did poorly at the box office. In 1975, Chaplin received more recognition when Queen Elizabeth knighted him. In the early morning hours of December 25, 1977, Charlie Chaplin died at his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. His wife Oona and seven of his children were at his bedside at the time of his passing. In a twist that might very well have come out of one of his films, Chaplin's body was stolen not long after he was buried from his grave near Lake Geneva in Switzerland by two men who demanded $400,000 for its return. The men were arrested and Chaplin's body was recovered 11 weeks later.
Charlie Chaplin was a comic actor, film director, film producer, screenwriter, editor and composer. Chaplin first went on stage at age five. After a period of destitution he made his mark as a juvenile, touring with a Fred Karno comedy company in England and the United States. During an American tour in 1912-1913, Chaplin, one of the troupe's leading comedians, signed with filmmaker Mack Sennett's Keystone Company.At first Chaplin played supporting roles in Sennett's comedy shorts. In 1914 he made over thirty short films and after the first dozen began to write and direct his own material. He created the character of "the tramp," which became one of the most popular figures in movie history. The "little fellow," as Chaplin called him, is a remarkably winning combination of cockiness, sentimentality, and slapstick.Over the next years Chaplin refined the character, achieving fame and fortune. Keystone had paid him $175 a week; when he signed with Mutual in 1916, it was for $10,000 per week plus a bonus. The twelve Mutual two-reelers he made during the next two years are among his best work: films like The Adventurer and The Immigrant are dazzlingly creative and hilarious. In 1918 he signed a million-dollar contract with First National. Among the resulting films was his first feature, The Kid (1921), an extraordinary critical and box-office success.In 1919 Chaplin joined with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith to found United Artists. Chaplin's first film for United Artists, A Woman of Paris (1923), which he wrote and directed, was an unsuccessful attempt at sophisticated drama. Many consider the second film he made for the company, The Gold Rush (1925), his masterpiece. The tramp's adventures in the film strikingly portray the universal fallibility of men and women through tragicomic situations that touch on bathos and are never far from hilarity, as in the eating of a boot by a starving Chaplin as if it were gourmet food. A 1952 poll of world film critics judged it the second best film ever made.At first, Chaplin resisted talking pictures. In City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936) his only concessions to sound were musical scores he composed and conducted, and in the latter film, a gibberish song sung by him. Modern Times marks the last appearance of "the tramp."Chaplin's popularity in America declined during the 1940s and early 1950s. His films were less winning. He first spoke dialogue in The Great Dictator (1940), an uneven attack on fascism; Monsieur Verdoux (1947) satirized mass murder; and Limelight (1952), his last American film, was an old-fashioned tear-jerker. Sensationalistic divorces from teenage brides had eroded the public's affection for him in the 1920s. But his popularity plummeted during and after World War II as a result of trumped-up paternity suits and the left-leaning political positions he championed.In 1952 U.S. authorities voided Chaplin's reentry permit while he was en route to Europe. He settled in Switzerland and did not return until 1972, when he received a special Academy Award. Other honors of his last years included a knighthood in 1975. In a bizarre episode after his death, his body was stolen from its grave in 1977 in Vevey, Switzerland, but recovered the next year.Chaplin's work was uneven. Many of his later films were flawed, but his "little fellow" became a lasting part of American, indeed, world culture.
Academy Award for Best Original Music Score, Academy Honorary Award, Erasmus Prize, BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award, New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, Blue Ribbon Award for Best Foreign Language Film, KinemaJunpo Award for Best Foreign Language Film, KinemaJunpo Award for Best Film, DGA Honorary Life Member Award
My Autobiography (1964, memoir)
In the early morning hours of December 25, 1977, Charlie Chaplin died at his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. His wife Oona and seven of his children were at his bedside at the time of his passing. In a twist that might very well have come out of one of his films, Chaplin's body was stolen not long after he was buried from his grave near Lake Geneva in Switzerland by two men who demanded $400,000 for its return. The men were arrested and Chaplin's body was recovered 11 weeks later.
“Life is a beautiful magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish.”
“You'll never find a rainbow if you're looking down”
“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles.”
“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself”
“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”
“My pain may be the reason for somebody's laugh.
But my laugh must never be the reason for somebody's pain.”
“Perfect love is the most beautiful of all frustrations because it is more than one can express.”
“Like everyone else I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of ancestral promptings and urgings; a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, all of which I am the sum total.”
“Life can be wonderful if you're not afraid of it. All it takes is courage, imagination ... and a little dough”
“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician”
“I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.”
“We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity; more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.”