Charlie Chaplin biography 2022

Actor Charles Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin biography


Charles Chaplin (Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin) was born on April 16, 1889.

Charles Chaplin broke through in the silent film era as one of Hollywood's biggest stars with his mime and comic talent and vagabond character with his refined manners, neat mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and huge shoes.

Film audiences immediately embraced Chaplin's vagabond. The figure became known worldwide as the small, somewhat vain clown who can find life's poetic and bright sides in even the most challenging situation. After the breakthrough of sound film, Chaplin was still able to create popular movies that, with a mixture of comedy and social commentary, have placed him as one of the greatest actors and filmmakers in film history.

Charles Chaplin was the son of two music-hall artists, and early on, he appeared with his older brother Sidney (1885-1965) in minor roles in variety shows and pantomimes.

In 1907, at his brother's instigation, Charles Chaplin joined a pantomime troupe led by Fred Karno, and during a tour in 1913 in the United States, Chaplin was engaged by the film company Keystone Comedies for their small farce films. He made his acting debut in February 1914 in Making a Living (Chaplin as a Journalist) without much success. In his next film, Kid Auto Races at Venice (Chaplin will be photographed), he came up with his vagabond character's distinctive attire, which helped the audience's interest.

Chaplin became dissatisfied with Keystone's directors. After his twelfth film as an actor, he made his debut as an independent director in May 1914 with Caught in the Rain (Chaplin and the Sleepwalker). After 15 films for the Essanay film company, by 1915, he was considered Hollywood's leading comedian, and in 1916 the Mutual company engaged him to make 12 films. It was one of Chaplin's best years. He did not yet work according to a fixed script but let an idea develop during the recording, which was a costly method.

In his film for Mutual, an increasing social commitment is seen; Chaplin's figure goes to resistance, and the theme is most often the individual's right to a decent life and his struggle against the representatives of power. When he switched to the company First National in 1918 for Hollywood's highest fee to date, he had the opportunity to go deeper with humor and satire as well as with character portrayal and social criticism.

Central to this period was The Kid (1921, Charlie's Foster Child), which contains a whole catalog of themes in Chaplin's output, woven into a moral adventure of timeless force. Chaplin was now one of Hollywood's undisputed stars. Two years earlier, he had formed the film company United Artists with the director D.W. Griffith and two other leading stars, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, to gain control over his own works. United Artists enjoyed Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925), one of silent film's most famous works and another highlight of his career.

However, this period was not unproblematic for Chaplin. While working for First National, the improvisational method began to strain production costs, adding a fickle personal life. His first marriage to actress Mildred Harris (1901-1944) from 1918 to 1920 was discordant, and his next marriage was also unhappy. The subsequent divorce and press interest in his private life caused significant problems and prolonged production stoppages on The Circus (1928).

Nevertheless, in 1928 Chaplin was awarded a unique Oscar for his contribution to the art of cinema.

Chaplin viewed the advent of sound films with skepticism in 1927. In his opinion, films should first and foremost be pantomimes, and the only sound, apart from specific special effects, in his next film, City Lights (1931), was the background music, which he, for the first time, composed himself. Contrary to expectations, the film was a great success, and the subsequent film, Modern Times (1936), was also recorded as a silent film with music.

The film had some of his senior staff in the cast, and it also featured Paulette Goddard (1905-1990), to whom Chaplin was married from 1933-1942. Its social message was interpreted by Chaplin's enemies as communist propaganda, and with this political game around the person, Chaplin was set in motion. It intensified when his next project became known, a satirical film about the rise of Nazism and Hitler's persecution of the Jews: The Great Dictator (1940). Chaplin was accused of being politically naïve and too banal in his message, yet the film served as an emergency film in wide circles. Even after World War II, its humorous qualities have shown their durability, and The Great Dictator has been seen by large audiences ever since.

A French mass murderer became the inspiration for Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Chaplin's first post-war film. It became his most controversial film, biting, provocative, and atypical of his previous output. The film was not an audience success, but it has survived as a cult film. Sensation returned in 1952 with the melodrama Limelight, which rounded off the career with the story of an old variety artist's evening of life.

Chaplin had previously left the USA due to a long series of controversies with various private and public associations and institutions.

Senator Joseph McCarthy's commission of inquiry accused Chaplin of an "un-American enterprise" and questioned the fact that Chaplin had never become an American citizen.

He had divorced Paulette Goddard and, in 1943, married the writer Eugene O'Neill's daughter Oona (1925-91), with whom he had eight children, Among other things, including actress Geraldine Chaplin.

Limelight might have been the old master's beautiful sortie. Still, bitterness over the persecution in the United States resulted in A King in New York (1957), an uneven satire on vulgarities in the United States. In 1953, Chaplin settled in the small Swiss town of Corsier-sur-Vevey, where he, among other things, wrote his memoir My Autobiography (1964). One of the projects Chaplin had planned for Paulette Goddard in the 1930s, A Countess From Hong Kong, he recorded in 1966 (premiered in 1967) with Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando.

In 1972, Charles Chaplin received another Honorary Oscar for his overall production, and in 1975 he was knighted by Elizabeth 2. In 1992, the film Chaplin was directed by Richard Attenborough with Robert Downey jr. (b. 1965) in the role of Chaplin.

Died December 25, 1977



last updated October 2022

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