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Saturday, 8 March 2014

Charlie Chaplin

Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin (1889 – 1977)  was born to Hannah Chaplin (née Hill) and Charles Chaplin, Sr on April 16, 1889. His parents were both music hall entertainers.

Hannah Chaplin was a British music hall performer who used the stage name Lily Harley. Chaplin's mother's stage career abruptly ended in 1894 when she lost her singing voice in the middle of a performance. When the audience began to throw things at her, five-year-old Charlie rushed on stage and finished his mom’s song.

When Charlie was a child, he was kept in bed for many weeks from a bad illness. At night, his mother would sit at the window and act out what was going on outside.

A teenage Chaplin in the play Sherlock Holmes, which he appeared in between 1903 and 1906

His first important work came when he joined The Eight Lancashire Lads, a clog-dancing troupe.

When Chaplin turned eighteen, he was awarded the lead in a comedy play for Fred Karno and the Karno Troupe. Two years later whilst touring America with the Karno Troupe,  Chaplin’s character of the English drunk caught the eye of Mack Sennett, the head of Keystone Studios. Chaplin took up the offer of a contract with the New York Motion Picture Co. at $150 per week to join the Keystone Studios in Los Angeles.


When both Stan Laurel and Chaplin moved to America in 1912 they shared a room in a boarding house. Cooking was not allowed in the boarding house where Stan Laurel and Chaplin stayed, so he would play the violin to cover up the sound of Laurel frying up food on a hot plate.

The first film starring Charlie Chaplin, Making a Living, premiered on February 2, 1914. Chaplin played Edgar English, a lady-charming swindler who runs afoul of the Keystone Kops.


The 1914 film Kid Auto Races at Venice, featured the first appearance of Charlie Chaplin's character "The Tramp."

The Tramp debuts in Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914),

Charlie Chaplin became the highest-paid film star in the world when he signed a contract with Mutual Film Corporation for $675,000 a year  on April 6, 1916.

Long after becoming a millionaire, Charlie.Chaplin continued to live in a shabby hotel room, and kept his studio checks in a trunk for months.


Charlie Chaplin’s Beverly Hills residence was known as "Breakaway House". Designed by Chaplin himself and built by studio carpenters, it began falling to bits over the years, much to the amusement of visitors.

Built on Summit Drive in the Pickfair neighborhood,”Breakaway House” boasted a pipe organ Chaplin continually used to entertain his guests in the great hall; he also screened his films there.

Charlie Chaplin ordered 342 retakes of a scene in the 1931 film City Lights where a blind girl sells him a flower, imagining that he is a rich tycoon. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the most retakes for one scene

Chaplin was a talented song composer, his most famous works being "Smile," which he wrote as an instrumental for his 1936 film Modern Times and "This Is My Song," which he penned for the 1967 movie, A Countess From Hong Kong,.

Although Adolf Hitler was not at all a fan - in fact he had been misinformed that Charlie Chaplin was Jewish, and therefore despised him - he was also well aware of how beloved Charlie was throughout the world at that time. That was the reason he grew the Chaplin moustache: he thought it would endear him to the people.

He was four days older than Adolf Hitler, whom he satirized so well in the 1940 film The Great Dictator.

Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.

Chaplin won two special Oscars. Chaplin had first been chosen for both "Best Actor" and "Best Comedy Directing". But then, instead, he was given a special award "for versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing". His second special award came 44 years later, in 1972.

Charlie Chaplin left America in 1952 after being accused of being a communist. He did not return until April 2, 1972 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offered him an Honorary Award.


Chaplin had the longest standing ovation in Academy Award history when receiving his 1972 honorary Oscar.

Chaplin's only other Oscar was for the music score of Limelight, awarded in 1973.

He made 82 movies over a career that spanned 50 years.

Charlie Chaplin was knighted in England on March 4, 1975 by Queen Elizabeth II. The honor had been delayed by nearly 20 years, partly due to his perceived communist sympathies. The legend of silent films became Sir Charles after a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The slapstick legend received his knighthood from a wheelchair.

Chaplin died of a stroke in his sleep on Christmas Day 1977, in Switzerland at the age of 88.



On March 1, 1978, his body was stolen by by two unemployed immigrants. The body was held for ransom in an attempt to extort money from Chaplin’s family. The perpetrators were caught, and Chaplin’s body was found 11 weeks later near Lake Geneva. He was buried under concrete to prevent further incidents.

Charlie Chaplin’s famous cane and bowler hat was sold at London’s Christie’s for £82,500 ($135,000) on December 11, 1987. His oversize boots sold for £38,500 ($63,000).

The Chilean word 'achaplinarse' means to run about in the style of Charlie Chaplin.

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