Charlie Chaplin, or Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, born on April 16, 1889 in London, England, & died on December 25, 1977 in Corsier-sur-Vevey Switzerland, British comedian, producer, writer, director, and composer who is widely regarded as the greatest comic artist of the screen and one of the most important figures in motion-picture history.
Early Life And Career :
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 was one of film’s first superstars, elevating the industry in a way few could have ever imagined.
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 spotlight, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the production manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he’d heard sing, onto the stage to replace her.
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, he 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 any way he could.
Eventually, other stage work did come his way. 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.
Major Works And Achievement :
‘Modern Times’ was selected to be preserved at the Library of Congress, United States and it was ranked 33rd on the American Film Institute’s list of ‘100 Years…100 Laughs’, as one of the 100 funniest movies in America.
‘The Gold Rush’ was rated as the ‘second greatest film in history’ by the critics of The Brussels World’s Fair, a worldwide organisation of filmmakers. It was also selected to be preserved at the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
In 1929, he was the recipient of the Honorary Academy Award for ‘versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing.
In 1972, he received the Honorary Academy Award for ‘the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century’.
In 1972, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1973, he received the Academy Award in the category, ‘Best Music, Original Dramatic Score’ for the film ‘Limelight’.
Death And Final Years :
In the early morning hours of December 25, 1977, 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.