Birth Name: Charles Spencer Chaplin
Nickname: Charlie / Charlot / The Little Tramp
Date of Birth:16 April 1889, Walworth, London, England
Date of Death: 25 December 1977, Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland
Charlie Chaplin, as he is popularly known across the world, is an iconic figure despite his otherwise small stature. His characteristic toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk amused and entertained the children and adults alike and made him a household name globally. He was the pioneer in the genre of comedy in the silent film era and his ability, to make audiences laugh simply through his gestures and movements and without otherwise uttering a word, was nothing short of a feat.
Coming from a rather deprived background, Charlie spent much of his early childhood in and out of charity homes and workhouses. His father died of alcohol abuse when Charlie was just 12. His mother suffered from periodic bouts of insanity and was committed to a mental asylum. The early death of his father and the illness of his mother made it necessary for Charlie to fend for himself.
He took to the stage as the best opportunity for a career and made his professional debut at the age of eight as a member of a juvenile group called “The Eight Lancashire Lads”. At the age of eighteen, he toured the US and that was the start of his brilliant career in acting and direction. His reason for choosing comedy as his career is linked to his childhood when he was confined to bed for weeks due to a serious illness and his mother would sit at the window and act out what was going on outside. Between 1914 and 1966, he made and acted in over eighty movies, five of which were `talkies’. Chaplin died of natural causes on December 25, 1977 in Switzerland, where he had settled with his fourth wife. In contrast to many of his boisterous characters, Chaplin was a quiet man who mostly kept to himself. While he had made millions laugh, Chaplin’s own life and career was full of scandals and controversy.
- Decorated by the French government for his outstanding work as a filmmaker in 1921
- Elevated to the rank of Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1952
- Honored with an Academy Award for his “incalculable effect in making motion pictures the art form of the century” in 1972
- Awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1975 Queen’s Honors List for his services to entertainment
- Ranked #79 in Empire (UK) magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” list in 1997
- First actor to appear on the cover of “Time” magazine (July 6, 1925)
- First actor to have a comic strip about him; Ed Carey’s 1916 strip, “Pa’s Imported Son-in-Law”, detailed the adventures of Chaplin.
- He was the first actor to appear on the cover of “Time” magazine, (July 6, 1925).
- He was also the first actor to have a comic strip about him; Ed Carey’s 1916 strip, “Pa’s Imported Son-in-Law”, detailed the adventures of Chaplin
Some interesting facts about Charlie Chaplin
- Never won an Academy Award in an acting category, only in the capacity of a composer.
- Composed about 500 melodies including “Smile” and “This Is My Song”.
- Was a good friend of Winston Spencer Churchill.
- Had a total of 11 children from four wives.
- Was 73 years old when his youngest son, Christopher, was born.
- Authored two autobiographical books, “My Autobiography” in 1964 and its companion volume, “My Life in Pictures” in 1974.
- His trademark character `The Tramp’ appeared in about 70 movies, shorts and features, during a period of 26 years.
- Loved to play tennis, but described golf as “a game I can’t stand”.
- His film, The Great Dictator (1940), was banned in Germany.
- In 1978 his dead body was stolen from the cemetery where he was buried. The body was recovered after 3 months and then re-buried in a vault surrounded by cement.