Charlie Chaplin

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Actors, models and celebrities

Charles Chaplin

Chaplin in his costume as "The Tramp"
Birth name Charles Spencer Chaplin, Jr.
Born April 16, 1889
England Walworth, London, England
Died December 25, 1977
Switzerland Vevey, Switzerland
Notable roles The Tramp

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, Jr. KBE, ( 16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977), better known as Charlie Chaplin, was an English comedy actor, becoming one of the most famous performers in the early to mid Hollywood cinema era, and also a notable director. He is considered to be one of the finest mimes and clowns caught on film and his influence on performers in both fields is great.

Chaplin was one of the most creative and influential personalities in the silent film era: he acted in, directed, scripted, produced, and eventually even scored his own films. His working life in entertainment spanned over 65 years, from the British Victorian stage and music hall in England as a child performer, almost until his death at the age of 88. He led one of the most remarkable and colourful lives of the 20th century, from a Dickensian London childhood to the pinnacle of world fame in the film industry and as a cultural icon.

His principal character was " The Tramp" (known as "Charlot" in France, Italy and Spain): a vagrant with the refined manners and dignity of a gentleman who wears a tight coat, oversized trousers and shoes, a bowler hat, carries a bamboo cane, and has a signature toothbrush moustache. Chaplin's high-profile public and private life encompassed highs and lows of both adulation and controversy.


Charlie Chaplin was born on the 16th April 1889 in East Street, Walworth, London. His parents, both entertainers in the Music Hall tradition, separated before he was three. As a child he lived with his mother, Hannah, of Roma ancestry in various addresses in and around Kennington Road. His father, an alcoholic, who had little contact with his family, died when Charlie was twelve, leaving him and his older half-brother, Sydney Chaplin, in the sole care of his mother. Hannah Chaplin suffered from schizophrenia, and was eventually admitted to the Cane Hill Asylum at Coulsdon. Chaplin had to be left in the workhouse at Lambeth, London, moving after several weeks to the Central London District School for paupers in Hanwell. The young Chaplin brothers forged a close relationship to survive. They gravitated to the Music Hall while still very young, and both proved to have considerable natural stage talent.

Unknown to Charlie and Sydney until years later, they had a half-brother through their mother, Wheeler Dryden, who was raised abroad by his father. He was later reconciled with the family, and worked for Chaplin at his Hollywood studio.

Chaplin's mother died in 1928 in Hollywood, seven years after being brought to the U.S. by her sons.


Charlie first took to the stage in 1894, when, at the age of five, he gave an impromptu performance at a theatre in Aldershot, standing in for his mother. As a child, he was confined to a bed for weeks due to a serious illness, and, at night, his mother would sit at the window and act out what was going on outside. His first professional work came when he joined The Eight Lancashire Lads, a troupe of dancers who played the music halls of Great Britain. In 1900, at the age of 11, his half-brother Sydney helped get him the role of a comic cat in the pantomime Cinderella at the London Hippodrome. In 1903 he appeared in Jim: A Romance of Cockayne, followed by his first regular job, as the newspaper boy Billy in Sherlock Holmes, a part he played into 1906. This was followed by Casey's 'Court Circus' variety show, and, the following year, he became a clown in Fred Karno's 'Fun Factory' slapstick comedy company, where Chaplin became the star of the troupe.


Chaplin first toured America with the Karno troupe from 1910 to 1912. Then, after five months back in England, he returned for a second tour and arrived in the United States with the Karno Troupe on October 2, 1912. In the Karno Company was Arthur Stanley Jefferson, who would later become known as Stan Laurel. Chaplin and Laurel wound up sharing a room in a boarding house. Stan Laurel returned to England but Chaplin remained in the United States. In late 1913, Chaplin's act with the Karno Troupe was seen by film producer Mack Sennett, who hired him for his studio, the Keystone Film Company. Chaplin's first film appearance was in Making a Living a one-reel comedy released on February 2, 1914.

Pioneering film auteur

Kid Auto Races in Venice (1914): Chaplin's second film and the debut of his "Tramp" costume.
Kid Auto Races in Venice (1914): Chaplin's second film and the debut of his "Tramp" costume.

Chaplin's earliest films (1914) were made for Keystone Studios, where he developed his Tramp character and very quickly learned the art and craft of filmmaking. The Tramp was first presented to the public in Chaplin's second film Kid Auto Races at Venice (released Feb 7th 1914) though Mabel's Strange Predicament, his third film, (released Feb 9th 1914) was produced a few days before. It was for this film that Chaplin first conceived of and played the Tramp. As Chaplin recalled in his autobiography:

I had no idea what makeup to put on. I did not like my get-up as the press reporter [in Making a Living]. However on the way to the wardrobe I though I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat. I wanted everything to be a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large. I was undecided whether to look old or young, but remembering Sennet had expected me to be a much older man, I added a small moustache, which I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expresion.
I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the makeup made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked on stage he was fully born (Chaplin, My Autobiography: 154).

By the end of his year at Keystone, he was directing and editing his own short films. These were an immediate, runaway success with the public, and even today Chaplin's standout screen presence in these films is apparent. In 1915 he began a year's contract with Essanay film studios, and further developed his film skills, adding new levels of depth and pathos to the Keystone-style slapstick. In 1916, he signed a lucrative deal with the Mutual Film Corporation to produce a dozen two-reel comedies. He was given near complete artistic control, and produced twelve films over an eighteen month period that rank among the most influential comedy films in cinema. Chaplin later said the Mutual period was the happiest of his career.

Charlie Chaplin Studios, 1922
Charlie Chaplin Studios, 1922

At the conclusion of the Mutual contract in 1917, Chaplin signed a contract with First National to produce eight two-reel films. First National financed and distributed these pictures (1918-23) but otherwise gave him complete creative control over production. Chaplin built his own Hollywood studio and using his independence, created a remarkable, timeless body of work that remains entertaining and influential. The First National films include the comedy shorts: A Dog's Life (1918), and Pay Day (1922); longer films, such as: Shoulder Arms (1918) and The Pilgrim (1923); and the feature-length classic The Kid (1921).

In 1919 Chaplin co-founded the United Artists film distribution company with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith, all of whom were seeking to escape the growing power consolidation of film distributors and financiers in the developing Hollywood studio system. This move, along with complete control of his film production through his studio, assured Chaplin's independence as a filmaker. He served on the board of UA until the early 1950s.

All Chaplin's United Artists pictures were of feature length, beginning with A Woman of Paris (1923). This was followed by the classic The Gold Rush (1925), and The Circus (1928).

After the arrival of sound films, he made what is considered to be his greatest film, City Lights (1931), as well as Modern Times (1936) before he committed to sound. These were essentially silent films scored with his own music and sound effects. City Lights contained arguably his most perfect balance of comedy and sentimentality. Of the final scene, critic James Agee wrote in Life magazine in 1949 that it was the "greatest single piece of acting ever committed to celluloid".

His dialogue films made in Hollywood were The Great Dictator (1940), Monsieur Verdoux (1947), and Limelight (1952).

While Modern Times (1936) is a non-talkie, it does contain talk—usually coming from inanimate objects such as a radio or a TV monitor. This was done to help 1930s audiences, who were out of the habit of watching silent films, adjust to not hearing dialogue. Modern Times was the first film where Chaplin's voice is heard (in the nonsense song at the end). However, for most viewers it is still considered a silent film -- and the end of an era.

Although " talkies" became the dominant mode of moviemaking soon after they were introduced in 1927, Chaplin resisted making such a film all through the 1930s. It is a tribute to Chaplin's versatility that he also has one film credit for choreography for the 1952 film Limelight, and another as a singer for the title music of the 1928's The Circus. The best-known of several songs he composed are " Smile", composed for the film "Modern Times" and given lyrics to help promote a 1950s revival of the film, famously covered by Nat King Cole. "This Is My Song" from Chaplin's last film, "A Countess From Hong Kong," was a number one hit in several different languages in the 1960s (most notably the version by Petula Clark), and Chaplin's theme from Limelight was a hit in the 50s under the title "Eternally." Chaplin's score to Limelight was nominated for an Academy Award in 1972 due to a decades-long delay in the film premiering in Los Angeles making it eligible.

The Great Dictator

His first dialogue picture, The Great Dictator (1940) was an act of defiance against Adolf Hitler and Nazism, filmed and released in the United States one year before it abandoned its policy of isolationism to enter World War II. The film was seen as an act of courage in the political environment of the time, both for its ridicule of Nazism and for the portrayal of overt Jewish characters and the depiction of their persecution. Chaplin played both the role of a Nazi dictator clearly modeled on Hitler (with a certain physical likeness), and also that of a Jewish barber cruelly persecuted by the Nazis. Hitler, who was a great fan of movies, is known to have seen the film twice (records were kept of movies ordered for his personal theatre).


Chaplin's political sympathies always lay with the left. His politics seem tame by modern standards, but in the 1940s his views (in conjunction with his influence, fame, and status in the United States as a resident foreigner) were seen by many as dangerously communistic. His silent films made prior to the Great Depression typically did not contain overt political themes or messages, apart from the Tramp's plight in poverty and his run-ins with the law. But his films made in the 1930s were more openly political. Modern Times depicts workers and poor people in dismal conditions. The final dramatic speech in The Great Dictator, which was critical of blindly following patriotic nationalism without question, and his vocal public support for the opening of a second European front in 1942 to assist the Soviet Union in World War II were controversial. In at least one of those speeches, according to a contemporary account in the Daily Worker, he intimated that Communism might sweep the world after the war and equated it with "human progress".

Apart from the controversial 1942 speeches, Chaplin declined to patriotically support the war effort as he had done for the First World War (although his two sons saw service in the Army in Europe), which led to public anger. For most of the war he was fighting serious criminal and civil charges related to his involvement with actress Joan Berry (see below). After the war, the critical view towards what he regarded as capitalism in his 1947 black comedy, Monsieur Verdoux led to increased hostility, with the film being the subject of protests in many US cities. As a result, Chaplin's final American film, Limelight, was less political and more autobiographical in nature. His following European-made film, A King in New York (1957), satirised the political persecution and paranoia that had forced him to leave the US five years earlier (one of the few films of the 1950s to do so). After this film, Chaplin lost interest in making overt political statements, later saying that comedians and clowns should be "above politics".


Although Chaplin had his major successes in the United States and was a resident from 1914 to 1952, he always retained his British nationality. During the era of McCarthyism, Chaplin was accused of " un-American activities" as a suspected communist sympathiser and J. Edgar Hoover, who had instructed the FBI to keep extensive secret files on him, tried to end his United States residency. FBI pressure on Chaplin grew after his 1942 campaign for a second European front in the war, and reached a critical level in the late 1940s, when Congressional figures threatened to call him as a witness in hearings. This was never done, probably from the fear of Chaplin's ability to lampoon the investigators.

In 1952, Chaplin left the US for what was intended as a brief trip home to England; Hoover learned of it and negotiated with the INS to revoke his re-entry permit. Chaplin then decided to stay in Europe, and made his home in Vevey, Switzerland. He briefly returned to the United States in April 1972, with his wife, to receive an Honorary Oscar. Even though he was invited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Academy Awards), he was only issued a one-time entry visa valid for a period of two months. However, by this time the animosities towards the now elderly and apolitical Chaplin had faded, and his visit was a triumphant success.

Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid (1921)
Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid (1921)

Academy Awards

Chaplin won two honorary Oscars. When the first Oscars were awarded on May 16, 1929, the voting audit procedures that now exist had not yet been put into place, and the categories were still very fluid. Chaplin had originally been nominated for both Best Actor and Best Comedy Directing for his movie The Circus, but his name was withdrawn and the Academy decided to give him a special award "for versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus" instead. The other film to receive a special award that year was The Jazz Singer.

Chaplin's second honorary award came 44 years later in 1972, and was for "the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century". He came out of his exile to accept his award. Upon receiving the award, Chaplin received the longest standing ovation in Academy Award history, lasting a full five minutes from the studio audience.

Chaplin was also nominated without success for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay for The Great Dictator, and again for Best Original Screenplay for Monsieur Verdoux (1947). During his active years as a filmmaker, Chaplin expressed disdain for the Academy Awards; his son Charles Jr. wrote that Chaplin invoked the ire of the Academy in the 1930s by jokingly using his 1929 Oscar as a doorstop. This might help explain why City Lights, considered by several polls to be one of the greatest of all motion pictures, was not nominated for a single Academy Award.

It is sometimes overlooked that Chaplin also won a competitive Academy Award. In 1973, he received an Oscar for the Best Music in an Original Dramatic Score for the 1952 film Limelight, which co-starred Claire Bloom. The film also features a cameo with Buster Keaton, which was the only time the two great comedians ever appeared together. Because of Chaplin's political difficulties, the film did not play a one-week theatrical engagement in Los Angeles when it was first produced. This criterion for nomination was not fulfilled until 1972.

Final works

Chaplin's two final films were made in London: A King in New York (1957) in which he starred, and (as writer and director) A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), starring Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando, in which Chaplin made his final on-screen appearance in a brief cameo role as a seasick steward.

In his autobiographical book My Life in Pictures, published in 1974, Chaplin indicated that he had written a screenplay for his youngest daughter, Victoria. Entitled The Freak, the film would have cast Victoria as an angel. According to Chaplin, a script was completed and pre-production rehearsals had already begun on the film (the book includes a photograph of Victoria in costume) but were halted when Victoria got married. "I mean to make it some day," Chaplin wrote; he died before this could happen.

One of the last known works Chaplin completed was in 1976 when he composed a new score for his unsuccessful 1923 film A Woman of Paris.

Notable relationships

Chaplin's relationships with various women were an important part of his life and career, in both positive and negative ways.

Hetty Kelly

Hetty Kelly was Chaplin's 'true' first love, a dancer, whom he met in London when she was 15 (he was 19). Chaplin fell madly in love with her and asked her to marry him. When she refused, Chaplin suggested it would be best if they did not see each other again. He was crushed when she agreed. Years later, her memory would remain a 'fetish' with Chaplin. He was devastated in 1921 when he found out that she had died of influenza in the great epidemic of 1918. Speculators would later agree that it was his original infatuation with Hetty that fueled his later relationships with young girls.

Edna Purviance

Chaplin and his first major leading lady, Edna Purviance, were involved in a close romantic relationship during the production of his Essanay and Mutual films in 1916–1917. The romance seems to have ended by 1918, and Chaplin's marriage to Mildred Harris in late 1918 ended any possibility of reconciliation. Purviance would continue as leading lady in Chaplin's films until 1923, and would remain on Chaplin's payroll until her death in 1958. She and Chaplin spoke warmly of one another for the rest of their lives.

Mildred Harris

On October 23, 1918, the 29-year-old Chaplin married the 16-year-old The Wonderful Wizard of Oz actress Mildred Harris. The marriage resulted from a false-alarm pregnancy claim from the underage Harris. They had one child, Norman Spencer Chaplin (also known as "The Little Mouse"), who died in infancy; they divorced in 1920. During the divorce, Chaplin claimed Harris had had a lesbian affair with noted actress of the time Alla Nazimova, well known for seducing young actresses. Harris in turn claimed Chaplin was a sexual addict. Both claims have merit.

Pola Negri

Chaplin was involved in a very public relationship and engagement to the actress Pola Negri in 1922–23. Negri was a Polish actress who had recently arrived in Hollywood to star in films. The stormy on-off engagement was halted after about nine months, but in many ways it foreshadowed the modern stereotypes of Hollywood star relationships. Chaplin's public involvement with Negri was unique in his public life. By comparison he strove to keep his other romances and relationships very discreet and private (usually without success). Many biographers have concluded the affair with Negri was largely for publicity purposes.

Lita Grey

At 35, he became involved with 16-year-old Lita Grey during preparations for The Gold Rush. They married on November 26, 1924 after she became pregnant. They had two sons, the actors Charles Chaplin Jr. (1925–1968) and Sydney Earle Chaplin (1926–). The marriage was a disaster, with the couple hopelessly mismatched. Their extraordinarily bitter divorce in 1928 had Chaplin paying Grey a then-record-breaking $825,000 settlement, on top of almost a million dollars in legal costs. The stress of the sensational divorce, compounded by a federal tax dispute, allegedly turned his hair white. The publication of court records, which included many intimate details, led to a short-lived campaign against him. The Chaplin biographer Joyce Milton asserted in Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin that the Grey-Chaplin marriage was the inspiration for Vladimir Nabokov's 1950's novel Lolita.

May Reeves

May Reeves was originally hired to be Chaplin' secretary on his 1931-1932 extended trip to Europe, dealing mostly with reading his personal correspondence. She worked only one morning, and then was introduced to Chaplin, who was instantly infatuated by her. May became his constant companion and lover on the trip, much to the disgust of Chaplin's brother Syd. After Reeves also became involved with Syd, Chaplin ended the relationship and she left his entourage. Reeves chronicled her short time with Chaplin in her book, "The Intimate Charlie Chaplin".

Paulette Goddard

Chaplin and actress Paulette Goddard were involved in a romantic and professional relationship between 1932 and 1940, with Goddard living with Chaplin in his Beverly Hills home for most of this time. Chaplin "discovered" Goddard and gave her starring roles in Modern Times and The Great Dictator. Refusal to clarify their marital status is often claimed to have eliminated Goddard from final consideration for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. After the relationship ended in 1940, Chaplin and Goddard made public statements that they had been secretly married in 1936. But these claims were likely a mutual effort to prevent any lasting damage to Goddard's career, because Chaplin privately confirmed they were never officially married. In any case, their common-law marriage ended amicably in 1942, with Goddard being granted a settlement. Goddard went on to a major career in films at Paramount in the 1940s, working several times with Cecil B. DeMille, whose politics could not have been further from those of Goddard's former spousal equivalent. She also lived her later life in Switzerland, like Chaplin.

Joan Berry

Chaplin had a brief affair with Joan Berry in 1942, whom he was considering for a starring role in a proposed film, but the relationship ended when she began harassing him and displaying signs of severe mental illness (similar to those of his mother). Chaplin's brief involvement with Berry proved to be a nightmare for him. After having a child, she filed a paternity suit against him in 1943. Although blood tests proved Chaplin was not the father of Berry's child, the tests were then inadmissible as evidence in court, and he was ordered to support the child. The injustice of the ruling later led to a change in California law to allow blood tests as evidence. Federal prosecutors also brought Mann Act charges against Chaplin related to Berry in 1944, of which he was acquitted. Chaplin's public image in America was permanently damaged by these sensational trials.

Oona O'Neill

During Chaplin's legal trouble over the Berry affair, he met Oona O'Neill, daughter of Eugene O'Neill, and married her on June 16, 1943. He was 54; she was 17. The elder O'Neill refused all contact with Oona after the marriage, up until his death. O'Neill and Chaplin each seemed to provide elements missing in the others' lives: she longed for the love of a father figure, and Chaplin craved her loyalty and support as his public popularity declined. The marriage was a long and happy one, with eight children. They had three sons: Christopher, Eugene and Michael Chaplin and five daughters: Geraldine, Josephine, Jane, Victoria and Annette-Emilie Chaplin. Oona survived Chaplin by fourteen years, but her final years were unhappy, with grief over Chaplin's death eventually leading to alcoholism. She died from pancreatic cancer in 1991.


On March 4, 1975, he was knighted as a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. The honour was first proposed in 1931, and again in 1956, when it was vetoed by the then Conservative government for fears of damage to relations with the United States at the height of the Cold War and planned invasion of Suez of that year.


Chaplin died on Christmas Day, 1977, in Vevey, Switzerland, in his sleep, aged 88, and was interred in Corsier-Sur-Vevey Cemetery in Corsier-Sur-Vevey, Vaud. On March 1, 1978, his body was stolen by a small group of Polish and Bulgarian mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family. The plot failed, the robbers were captured, and the body was recovered 11 weeks later near Lake Geneva (and reburied under six feet of concrete to prevent another attempt).

Other controversies

During World War I, from March 1916, Chaplin was criticized in the British press for not joining the Army. He had in fact presented himself for service, but was denied for being too small and underweight. However, Chaplin also raised substantial funds for the war effort during War bond drives, and by making, at his own expense, The Bond, a comedic propaganda film used in 1918. This lingering controversy reportedly prevented Chaplin's knighthood in the early 1930s.

For Chaplin's entire career, some level of controversy existed over claims of Jewish ancestry. Nazi propaganda in the 1930s prominently portrayed Chaplin as Jewish (named Karl Tonstein) relying on articles published in the US press before, and FBI investigations of Chaplin in the late 1940s also focused on Chaplin's racial origins. Paranoia about alleged Jewish domination of the movie industry was probably the root cause underlying this controversy. There is no evidence of Jewish ancestry for Chaplin himself. Chaplin's half-brother, Sydney, was three-fourths-Jewish , but he was never a practising Jew. For his entire public life, Chaplin fiercely refused to challenge or refute such claims, saying that to do so would always "play directly into the hands of anti-Semites". His fearless portrayal of Jewish persecution in The Great Dictator bears this conviction out. In the biographical film, Chaplin, there is a fictional confrontation with a Nazi in which Chaplin responded to his query if he was a Jew with, "I'm afraid I don't have that honour."

Chaplin has also figured in the mysterious events surrounding the death of producer Thomas Ince aboard the yacht of William Randolph Hearst in 1924, one of Hollywood's greatest mysteries. A fictionalised version of these events are depicted in the 2001 film The Cat's Meow. The precise circumstances of Ince's death will likely never be known.

Chaplin's lifelong attraction to younger women remains another enduring source of controversy. His biographers have attributed this to a teenage infatuation with Hetty Kelly, whom he met in Britain while performing in the music hall, and which defined his feminine ideal. Chaplin clearly relished the role of discovering and closely guiding young female stars; with the exception of Mildred Harris, all of his marriages and most of his major relationships began in this manner.


  • There is a statue of Chaplin in front of the alimentarium in Vevey to commemorate the last part of his life, and a replica also stands in Leicester Square in London.
  • Amongst his many honours, Chaplin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Chaplin's star was not dedicated until the 1970s, due to controversies over his politics in the 1950s and 1960s). In 1985 he was honoured with his image on a postage stamp of the United Kingdom, and in 1994 he appeared on a United States postage stamp designed by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. He has also a bronze statue in Waterville, County Kerry in Ireland, to show Irish appreciation for his love of the country.
  • Chaplin has a waxwork in Madame Tussauds.
  • In 1992 a film was made about his life entitled Chaplin, directed by Oscar-winner Richard Attenborough, and starring Robert Downey Jr., Dan Aykroyd, and Geraldine Chaplin (Charlie's daughter, portraying Charlie's mother, her own grandmother). Downey was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in 1993 for his portrayal of Chaplin.
  • In 2001, British comedian Eddie Izzard played Chaplin in the film, The Cat's Meow, which speculated about the still-unsolved death of producer Thomas Ince aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht, of which Chaplin was a passenger of at the time.
  • Chaplin's Tramp character was portrayed by Steve Fairnie in a famous 1980s advertising campaign for the IBM PC personal computer and later IBM PCjr.
  • In Spanish, charlotada means a show of comedy bullfight, and a ridicule or grotesque public performance. It is named after the comedy bullfighter Carmelo Tusquellas, nicknamed Charlot because his attire and show reminded that of Chaplin (also named Charlot in Spanish markets).

Comparison with other silent comics

Since the 1960s, Chaplin's films have been unendingly compared to those of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd (the other two great silent film comedians alongside Charlie Chaplin), especially among the loyal fans of each comic.

The three had very different styles: Chaplin had a strong affinity for sentimentality and pathos (which was popular in the 1920s), Lloyd was renowned for his everyman persona and classic 1920s optimism, and Keaton adhered to onscreen stoicism with a cynical tone more suited to modern audiences. On a historical level, Chaplin was behind the pioneering generation of film comedians, and both the younger Keaton and Harold Lloyd built upon his groundwork (in fact, Lloyd's early characters "Willie Work" and "Lonesome Luke" were obvious Chaplin ripoffs, something that Lloyd acknowledged and tried hard to move away from - eventually succeeding). Chaplin's period of film experimentation ended after the Mutual period (1916-1917), just before Keaton entered films.

Commercially, Charlie Chaplin made some of the highest-grossing films in the silent era; The Gold Rush is the fifth with $4.25 million and The Circus is the seventh with $3.8 million. However, Chaplin's films combined made about $10.5 million while Harold Lloyd's grossed $15.7 million (Lloyd was far more prolific, releasing twelve feature films in the 1920s while Chaplin released just three). Buster Keaton's films were not nearly as commercially successful as Chaplin's or Lloyd's even at the height of his popularity, and only received belated critical acclaim in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Beyond a healthy professional rivalry, the two former vaudevillians and Harold Lloyd (who was a dramatic actor by training) thought highly of each other. Keaton stated that Chaplin was the greatest comedian that ever lived, and the greatest comedy director. Chaplin also greatly admired Keaton: he welcomed him to United Artists in 1925, advised him against his disastrous move to MGM in 1928, and for his last American film, Limelight, wrote a part specifically for Keaton as his first on-screen comedy partner since 1915.


  • A bronze statue to Chaplin was erected in the small seaside town of Waterville, County Kerry, Ireland where the star spent many holidays in later life.
  • A young Chaplin is a character in Shanghai Knights; the movie presented the fictional idea that Chaplin originally came to America by stowing away with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson's characters.
  • Elemental, querido Chaplin, by Rafael Marín (2005, ISBN 84-480-7542-X), is presented as a unpublished manuscript in which Chaplin tells how, as a London poor child, he helped Sherlock Holmes in an adventure against Fu Manchu.
  • As Chaplin became popular throughout America, "Charlie Chaplin look-alike" contests became popular. It is said that Chaplin once entered in such a contest and came in third. Other stories claim he came in second. The real story is actually worse: he did take part in such a contest at a San Francisco theatre and did in fact lose. But his final standing was not recorded because he did not even make the finals. In another such contest, a rising young actor named Milton Berle took first prize.
  • Chaplin befriended Luis Buñuel in the early 30s. The Spanish filmmaker had been brought to shoot parallel versions of Hollywood films and found it easier to join Chaplin's parties than other more exclusive ones. Chaplin had long been popular in surrealist and dadaist circles.
  • He once called Cantinflas "the greatest comedian in the world"
  • In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted among the top 20 greatest comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
  • Although baptised in the Church of England, Chaplin was an agnostic for most of his life.
  • In his later years Chaplin was a fan of Benny Hill (a big Chaplin fan himself), a compliment that touched Benny deeply when he visited Chaplin's home on invitation from Chaplin's family in 1991 and discovered that Charlie had a vast collection of Benny Hill videos.
  • During a visit to Chaplin's home with the Great Britain Davis Cup lawn tennis team in 1921, multi-talented sportsman Maxwell Woosnam — an Olympic and Wimbledon tennis champion and one-time captain of the England national football team — defeated Chaplin at table tennis while playing with a butter knife instead of a bat. In an effort to cheer Chaplin up after this loss, Woosnam threw the actor into his own swimming pool, after which Woosnam and his team-mates were asked to leave.
  • A Canadian cartoon show called Kevin Spencer mocked Charlie Chaplin's apparent love of young women when an old character, who would have been alive and a young woman during Chaplin's career, claims to somebody questioning whether she has done anything interesting in her life that she 'once had sex with Charlie Chaplin'. The character responds dismissively, saying 'everybody had sex with Charlie Chaplin'.
  • Chaplin, who grew up in dire poverty, managed his wealth very cautiously. He was often derided for being paranoid and a "tightwad" over his finances, but over the course of his life it served him well. He liquidated his stocks into cash just before the crash of 1929, unlike many of his contemporaries. Similarly, when he was refused re-entry into the US in 1952, he was able to extract his wealth with little difficulty (his wife Oona reportedly sewed $1000 bills into the lining of her coat). Because he preferred liquid assets, the IRS hounded him for over thirty years on tax issues, resulting in at least three large settlements.
  • One of the most prominent new wave bands from former Yugoslavia, Šarlo akrobata (Charlot the Acrobat), got its name after the usual translation of the Chaplin character's name in Yugoslavia in the 1920's and 30's.
  • An old Indonesian comedy show Spontan occasionally airs a mute, black and white humor series revolving a character called 'Den Bagus'. He is dressed in a similar manner with and is possibly a homage to Charlie Chaplin.
  • Was home educated when he was a boy.
  • In 1999, the American Film Institute named Chaplin among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking at No. 10.


Dates given are those of first release

Keystone Studios
(* denotes not written and directed by Chaplin)

  • 01. Making a Living (Feb 2) *
  • 02. Kid Auto Races at Venice (Feb 7) *
  • 03. Mabel's Strange Predicament (Feb 9) *
  • 04. Between Showers (Feb 28) *
  • 05. A Film Johnnie (Mar 2) *
  • 06. Tango Tangles (Mar 9) *
  • 07. His Favourite Pastime (Mar 16) *
  • 08. Cruel, Cruel Love (Mar 26) *
  • 09. The Star Boarder (Apr 4) *
  • 10. Mabel At The Wheel (Apr 18) *
  • 11. Twenty Minutes Of Love (Apr 20)
  • 12. Caught in a Cabaret (Apr 27) *
  • 13. Caught in the Rain (May 4)
  • 14. A Busy Day (May 7)
  • 15. The Fatal Mallet (Jun 1) *
  • 16. Her Friend The Bandit (Jun 4) (Chaplin's only lost film)
  • 17. The Knockout (Jun 11) *
  • 18. Mabel's Busy Day (Jun 13) *
  • 19. Mabel's Married Life (Jun 20)
  • 20. Laughing Gas (Jul 9)
  • 21. The Property Man (Aug 1)
  • 22. The Face on the Bar-Room Floor (Aug 10)
  • 23. Recreation (Aug 13)
  • 24. The Masquerader (Aug 27)
  • 25. His New Profession (Aug 31)
  • 26. The Rounders (Sep 7)
  • 27. The New Janitor (Sep 14)
  • 28. Those Love Pangs (Oct 10)
  • 29. Dough and Dynamite (Oct 26)
  • 30. Gentlemen of Nerve (Oct 29)
  • 31. His Musical Career (Nov 7)
  • 32. His Trysting Place (Nov 9)
  • 33. Tillie's Punctured Romance (Nov 14) *
  • 34. Getting Acquainted (Dec 5)
  • 35. His Prehistoric Past (Dec 7)


  • 36. His New Job (Feb 1)
  • 37. A Night Out (Feb 15)
  • 38. The Champion (Mar 11)
  • 39. In The Park (Mar 18)
  • 40. A Jitney Elopement (Apr 1)
  • 41. The Tramp (Apr 11)
  • 42. By The Sea (Apr 29)
  • His Regeneration (May 7) (cameo: a customer)
  • 43. Work (Jun 21)
  • 44. A Woman (Jul 12)
  • 45. The Bank (Aug 9)
  • 46. Shanghaied (Oct 4)
  • 47. A Night in the Show (Nov 20)
  • 48. Burlesque on Carmen (Dec 18)


  • 49. Police (May 27)


  • 50. Triple Trouble (put together by Essanay from unfinished Chaplin films two years after he had left the company)


  • The Nut (Mar 6, 1921) (cameo: chaplin impersonator)
  • Souls For Sale (Mar 27, 1923) (cameo: himself, celebrity director)
  • A Woman of the Sea (1926) (produced by Chaplin)
  • Show People (Nov 11, 1928) (cameo: himself)

Mutual Film Corporation

  • 51. The Floorwalker (May 15)
  • 52. The Fireman (Jun 12)
  • 53. The Vagabond (Jul 10)
  • 54. One A.M. (Aug 7)
  • 55. The Count (Sep 4)
  • 56. The Pawnshop (Oct 2)
  • 57. Behind the Screen (Nov 13)
  • 58. The Rink (Dec 4)


  • 59. Easy Street (Jan 22)
  • 60. The Cure (Apr 16)
  • 61. The Immigrant (Jun 17)
  • 62. The Adventurer (Oct 22)

First National

  • 63. A Dog's Life (Apr 14)
  • 64. The Bond (Sep 29)
  • 65. Shoulder Arms (Oct 20)


  • 66. Sunnyside (Jun 15)
  • 67. A Day's Pleasure (Dec 15)
  • 68. The Professor uncompleted


  • 68. The Kid (Feb 6)
  • 69. The Idle Class (Sep 25)


  • 70. Pay Day (Apr 2)


  • 71. The Pilgrim (Feb 26)

United Artists

  • 72. A Woman of Paris (Sep 26) (cameo)


  • 73. The Gold Rush (Jun 26)


  • 74. The Circus (Jan 6)


  • 75. City Lights (Feb 6)


  • 76. Modern Times (Feb 5)


  • 77. The Great Dictator (Oct 15)


  • 78. Monsieur Verdoux (Apr 11)


  • 79. Limelight (Oct 16)

Later Productions

  • 80. A King in New York (Sep 12)


  • 81. The Chaplin Revue (Sep 1) (First National shorts A Dog’s Life, Shoulder Arms and The Pilgrim edited together by Chaplin to form a single feature-length film).


  • 82. A Countess from Hong Kong (Jan 5)

Retrieved from ""