What you never knew about Charlie Chaplin
British actor Charlie Chaplin will forever be known as a pioneer of the Silent Film Industry. The brilliant actor who often plays the part of a vagrant was a delight to the world bringing laughter to millions around the world. To this day he is still remembered for his comedic acts that took place during the gilded age in Hollywood.
Chaplin or Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889, in Walworth, London, United Kingdom. His story is one that is truly rags to riches as his father was an alcoholic who abandoned Charlie, his mother and his older half-brother Sydney not long after Charlie was born. His mother was a vaudeville music performer who was left all alone to raise two boys by herself. Lily Harley would then go on to suffer from mental issues and was committed to a mental asylum where she sought treatment for several years before being released. This was devastating to Chaplin but he continued to push on in search of his dreams. That dream came to light when Chaplin was just five years of age. He was watching a performance when suddenly the performer lost her voice in the middle of the show. The production manager was lost and didn’t know what to do so he put young Charlie Chaplin on stage to perform in her place. The manager had heard Chaplin sing before so he knew the young boy would make an excellent replacement.
In 1897 Chaplin used his mother’s influence to make his mark on the world. He joined a clog-dancing troupe named the Eight Lancashire Lads but they were short-lived. In between performances, Chaplin would do what he could to keep his head above water- he was a newspaper boy, a printer, and even a toymaker--he never lost sight of his dream to act. Over time, Chaplin earned more work, including his acting debut as a pageboy in a production of Sherlock Holmes. He also toured with a vaudeville group by the name of Casey’s Court Circus. In 1908 he and fellow actor Fred Karno teamed up and formed a pa he and fellow actor Fred Karno teamed up and formed a pantomime troupe. Chaplin quickly became a star of the troupe, playing a drunk in a sketch called Night in an English Music Hall. It was with Karno that Chaplin was introduced to an audience in the United States. It was there that Chaplin caught the eye of American film producer Mack Sennett who signed Charlie Chaplin to a contract. Under that contract Chaplin would make $150.00 per week. The rest, you could say, is history because it was at this point that Chaplin’s career in film began to truly take hold.
From 1914 to 1915 Chaplin made more than 35 films including Tillie’s Punctured Romance, which would be his first, full-length comedy. The Tramp, (1915) was an instant classic hit. He played a hero who saved a farmer’s daughter from a group of robbers. At just twenty-six years of age, Chaplin was a star, his dream had come true. He was making $670,000 a year making films such as One AM (1916), The Rink,(1916) and Easy Street, (1917). Chaplin was known for his work off-screen as well, as he was quite the womanizer. In 1918 he married Mildred Harris who was just sixteen at the time but the marriage only lasted two years. He married another sixteen year old, Lita Gray, in 1924 because Gray became pregnant unexpectedly. Their marriage would produce two boys, Charles Jr. and Sydney. This marriage also ended in divorce after just three years of wedded bliss. His third marriage, to Paulette Goddard began in 1936 but the pair divorced in 1942. One year later, in 1943, Chaplin married the daughter Eugene O’Neill, eighteen year old Dona O’Neill. This marriage lasted and the two would go on to raise eight children! In 1952 Chaplin was banned from returning to the United States because of his womanizing. He was deported to Europe where he took up residence in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. He was granted one last visit to the United States in in 1972, five years before his death in Switzerland. It It was on this trip that he was given an honorary Academy Award.
Shortly before his death, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Shortly after his death on Christmas Day 1977, his body was stolen from his grave near Lake Geneva, Switzerland. There was a ransom of $400,000 for his body. The men who stole his body were arrested and Chaplin’s remains were returned to his final resting spot 11 weeks later. Charlie Chaplin, The Tramp, will forever be remembered for his participation in the silent film industry. He will also be remembered for his strong ability to woo women. No matter what you remember Chaplin for he will forever go down in history as an amazing singer, actor, husband, and father.