About the Artist


Charlie Chaplin

(actor, born April 16, 1889, London, England, UK; died December 25, 1977, Vevey, Switzerland.)

Real name: Charles Spencer Chaplin

Nickname: Charlie, The Little Tramp

Charlie Chaplin publicity shotCharlie Chaplin’s parents, Charles and Hannah Chaplin, were music hall entertainers. His first stage appearance, at age five, was singing a song in place of his mother who had become ill. At eight he toured in a musical “The Eight Lancaster Lads.” Nearly eleven, he appeared in “Giddy Ostende” at London’s Hippodrome. From age 17 to 24 he was with Fred Karno’s English vaudeville troupe which brought him to New York in 1910, aged 21. In November of 1913 he signed a contract with Mack Sennett (Keystone) and left for Hollywood the next month. His first movie — Making a Living (1914) — premiered in February of 1914. He did 35 films that year, moved to Essanay in 1915 and did 14 more, moved on to Mutual for 12 two-reelers 1916-7. In 1918 he joined First National (later absorbed by Warner Bros.) and in 1919 forms United Artists along with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith. His first full-length film, The Kid (1921), came out in 1921; his first for UA, fully produced and directed by himself, A Woman of Paris (1923), was released in 1923. In 1929 he won a special award “for versatility and genius in writing, acting, directing and producing The Circus (1928)” at the first Oscar awards. In 1943 he was unfairly accused of fathering a child; the papers made much of the scandal. The same year he entered his fourth marriage, to Oona, daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill. They had eight children. Tired of political and moralistic controversies and plagued by tax collectors, he left the United States for Switzerland in 1952. He published his memoirs in 1964. In 1972 he returned to Hollywood to claim a special Oscar honoring his lifetime contributions to movies. He was named Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1975. He died at 88, in his sleep from old age.

Biography writer:

Ed Stephan <>

  • Oona O’Neill (1943–25 December 1977) (his death)
  • Paulette Goddard (1933–1942) (divorced)
  • Lita Grey (1924–1927) (divorced)
  • Mildred Harris (I) (1918–1920) (divorced)

A tramp with toothbrush mustache, undersized bowler hat and bamboo cane who struggled to survive while keeping his dignity in a world with great social injustice.

  • Chaplin was 28 years old when he wed Mildred Harris (I); she was 16.
  • He was 35 years old when he wed Lita Grey; Lita was 16.
  • He was 44 years old when he wed Paulette Goddard; Paulette was 19.
  • He was 54 years old when he wed Oona O’Neill; Oona was 18.
  • On 3 March 1978 his dead body was stolen from the Sur-Vevey cemetery. It took until 18 May when the police found it.
  • 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, the house boasted a pipe organ Chaplin continually used to entertain his guests in the great hall; he also screened his films there. His tennis court was a hive of activity; even the elusive Greta Garbo was a frequent player. He seems to have been an inspiring host; many of his guests joined in with his antics, and reflected that they had never been so funny before or since — it was the influence of Chaplin.
Familial relations:
  • Father of Geraldine Chaplin
  • Half-brother of Syd Chaplin
  • Father of Charles Chaplin Jr.
  • Father of Victoria Chaplin
  • Father of Michael Chaplin
  • Father of Joséphine Chaplin
Other works:
  • My Autobiography (1964)
  • My Trip Abroad (1922)
  • A Comedian Sees the World (1933)
  • Biography (print)
  • (1995) Charles Chaplin: Intimate Close-Ups, G. Hale
  • (June 1996) Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin, Joyce Milton, Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 0-06017052-2
  • (1985) Chaplin: His Life and Art, David Robinson, ISBN 0-07-053181
  • Films of Charlie Chaplin, G.D. McDonald, M. Conway, M. Ricci
  • Legend of Charlie Chaplin, P. Haining, 1982.
Personal quote:

“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.”

Biographical movies:

Chaplin (1992)

Portrayed in

Young Charlie Chaplin (1989) (TV)

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