Charlie Chaplin | Braves by their Broken Hearts!

There's no person who didn't hear his name in entertainment world.. He rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his performance and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years, and occupied place in everyone's hearts... He is Chaplin, Charlie.

Chaplin's childhood in London went with poverty and hardship, as his father was absent and his mother struggled financially. When he was 14, his mother was committed to a mental asylum. Chaplin began performing at an early age, touring music halls and later working as a stage actor and comedian. Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films. He was a perfectionist by the character.

Charles Spencer Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin) | Biographical Sketch

Childhood :

  • Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on 16 April 1889 to Hannah Chaplin and Charles Chaplin Sr. There is no official record of his birth, although Chaplin believed that he was born in Walworth, South London.
Young Chaplin
  • At the time of his birth, Chaplin's parents were both music hall entertainers. Hannah, the daughter of a shoemaker had a brief and unsuccessful career, while Charles Sr. was a popular singer. Although they never divorced, Chaplin's parents got seperated around 1891.
  • Chaplin's childhood was fraught with poverty and hardship, making his story most struggleful. Chaplin's early years were spent with his mother and brother Sydney.
  • Hannah had no means of income, other than occasional nursing and dressmaking, and Chaplin Sr. provided no financial support.
  • As the situation deteriorated, Chaplin was sent to Lambeth Workhouse (a school for destitute children) when he was seven years old.
  • "I was hardly aware of meaning of a 'crisis' because we lived in a continual crisis, and, being a boy, I dismissed our troubles with gracious forgetfulness." - Charlie Chaplin.

  • In September 1898, Hannah was committed to mental asylum. She had got developed an infection of syphilis and malnutrition. For the two months she was there, Chaplin and his brother Sydney were sent to live with their father, whom the young boys scarcely knew. Charles Sr. was by then a severe alcoholic, and eventually died two years later, at 38 years old, by failure of liver.

Mother's death :

  • Although Hannah got well initially, in May 1903, became ill again. Chaplin, then 14, had the task of caring his mother. He lived alone for several days, searching for food and occasionally sleeping rough, until Sydney, who had enrolled in the Navy two years earlier, returned. In March 1905, her illness worsened, this time permanently. "There was nothing we could do but accept poor mother's fate", Chaplin wrote in his biography. She remained in care until her death in 1928.

Rising as a performer :

  • Between his time in the poor schools and his mother facing mental illness, Chaplin began to perform on stage. He made his first appearance at the age of just five years. 
  • Chaplin, with his mother's encouragement, grown interest in performing. He wrote: "My mother developed the feeling in me, that I had some sort of talent". 
  • Chaplin believed his first influence to be his mother, who entertained him as a child by sitting at the window and mimicking passers-by. "it was through watching her that I learned not only how to express emotions with my hands and face, but also how to observe and study people."
  • Through his father's connections, Chaplin became a member of the 'Eight Lancashire Lads clog' dancing troupe, with whom he toured English music halls throughout 1899 and 1900. Chaplin worked hard, and got popular with audiences, but he was not satisfied with dancing and wished to form a comedy act.
  • Chaplin got many roles between 1903 and 1906 in various acts. But, they all are unsuccessful.
  • Meanwhile, Sydney had joined Fred Karno's prestigious comedy company in 1906 and, by 1908, he was one of their key performers. He managed to secure a two-week trial for his younger brother Charlie. Karno was initially worried, and considered Chaplin a "pale, puny, cheap looking youngster" who "looked much too shy to do any good in the theatre." However, the teenager made an impact on his first night at the London Coliseum and he was quickly signed to a contract. 
Charlie Chaplin's 'Tramp' character

  • Chaplin began by playing a series of minor parts, eventually progressing to starring roles in 1909. In April 1910, he was given the lead in a new sketch, 'Jimmy the Fearless'. It was a big success, and Chaplin received considerable press attention.
  • Karno selected his new star to join the section of the company. The young comedian headed the show and impressed reviewers, being described as "one of the best pantomime artists ever seen here". His most successful role was a drunk called the "Inebriate Swell", which drew him significant recognition.
  • Chaplin was invited to join the New York Motion Picture Company. A representative who had seen his performances thought he could replace one of their leading stars.
  • He met with the company and signed a $150-per-week contract in September 1913. Chaplin arrived in Los Angeles in early December, and began working for the Keystone studio on 5 January 1914.
  • 'The one-reeler Making a Living' marked his film acting debut and was released on 2 February 1914. Chaplin strongly disliked the picture, but one review picked him out as "a comedian of the first water". For his second appearance in front of the camera, Chaplin selected the costume with which he became identified.
  • Chaplin developed a passion for music as a child and taught himself to play the piano, violin, and cello. He considered the musical accompaniment of a film to be important.
  • As Chaplin was not a trained musician, he could not read sheet music and needed the help of professional composers.
  • "I wanted everything to be a contradiction. The pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large ... I added a small moustache, which, I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expression." - Chaplin in his autobiography.
  • During the filming of his eleventh picture, 'Mabel at the Wheel', he clashed with director Mabel Normand and was almost released from his contract. However, when the producers received orders from exhibitors for more Chaplin films, they got no other option but accepting Chaplin. The film producers also allowed Chaplin to direct his next film himself after Chaplin promised to pay $1,500 ($38,803 in 2019 dollars) if the film was unsuccessful.
[Video]Charlie Chaplin's performance from 'The Circus' (1928)
  • 'Caught in the Rain', issued 4 May 1914, was Chaplin's directorial debut and was highly successful. Thereafter he directed almost every short film in which he appeared for Keystone, at the rate of approximately one per week, a period which he later remembered as the most exciting time of his career. 
  • Chaplin's films introduced a slower form of comedy than the typical ones, and he developed a large fan base.
  • Just at the age of 26, Chaplin became one of the highest paid people in the world (nearly $670,000). The high salary shocked the public and was widely reported in the press. John R. Freuler, the studio president, explained: "We can afford to pay Mr. Chaplin this large sum annually because the public wants Chaplin and will pay for him."
  • After 30 years of successful career, Chaplin felt that those films became increasingly formulaic over the period of the contract and he was increasingly dissatisfied with the working conditions encouraging that.
  • Chaplin was attacked in the British media for not fighting in the First World War. He defended himself, claiming that he would fight for Britain if called.
  • Despite this criticism, Chaplin was a favourite with the troops, and his popularity continued to grow worldwide. Harper's Weekly reported that the name of Charlie Chaplin was "a part of the common language of almost every country", and that the 'Tramp' image was "universally familiar". 
  • In 1917, professional Chaplin imitators were so widespread.
  • In the last two decades of his career, Chaplin concentrated on re-editing and scoring his old films for re-release, along with securing their ownership and distribution rights.
  • In November 1963, the Plaza Theater in New York started a year-long series of Chaplin's films, which gained excellent reviews from American critics. September 1964 saw the release of 'Chaplin's memoirs, My Autobiography', which he had been working on since 1957. The 500-page book became a worldwide best-seller. It focused on his early years and personal life, and was criticised for lacking information on his film career.

Death :
  • By October 1977, Chaplin's health had declined to the point that he needed constant care. In the early morning of 25 December 1977, Chaplin died at home after suffering a stroke in his sleep. He was 88 years old then. The funeral, on 27 December, was a small and private Anglican ceremony, according to his wishes.
  • "He was a monument of the cinema, of all countries and all times ... the most beautiful gift the cinema made to us." Actor Bob Hope declared, "We were lucky to have lived in his time.".


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