The growth of Charlie Chaplin’s fame

Charlie Chaplin was born in England on April sixteenth, 1889. He was the youngest and always had a rivalry with his older brother, Sydney. Sidney was two years older than he was. His father, Charles Spencer Chaplin, Sr. was an actor. His mother, Hanna Chaplin, was a singer. His parents gave him a strong background to become an entertainer. Chaplin went to school until the age of eight when he quit school to clog dance. Sadly in 1901, his father died of alcohol abuse. His mother was hit hardest. Suddenly Chaplin's mother was going in and out of mental institutions. He was sent to a charity home with Sydney (Hale, 1). When Charles Chaplin got out, he went to Herns Boy College. He studied there for two years. This was the only proper education he had.

After a clog dancing performance, the leader of an acting troupe offered Chaplin a job. He went to America for the first time performing in a comedy called the Wow-Wows (Jepstein, 14). In 1912, with the acting troupe, a theater director offered him a job that paid fifty dollars a week (Jepstein, 14). Since it was almost quadruple the amount he got from the Wow-Wows, he accepted. In three years, he managed to make thirty short films (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 439). In 1915, he joined Essanay Studios for two hundred fifty dollars a week (Jepstein, 14). There, he made «The Champion» and «His New Job.» While in Essanay, he got the idea for a tramp character. Chaplin got this idea from a comic book he used to read in England ( ,1). When, his tramp picture came out, he called it «The Tramp.» A year later, he joined Mutual, earning an astounding ten thousand dollar-a-week salary (Jepstein, 14). Here, he made «One A. M.», «The Pilgrim», «The Curse», «Easy Street», and «The Immigrant.»

In 1918 he started his own studio. Halfway through the year, on October 23rd, he secretly married Mildred Harris (Hale, 2). Mildred gave birth to Norman

Spencer Chaplin. The baby only lived for three days. Three months later, Mildred and Charlie divorced. In 1924, he married Lita Grey. Together, they had a boy named Sydney. Like the first marriage, Lita broke up with him before their first anniversary. She also filed paternity charges because she couldn't afford to feed Sydney. Three days into the trial Chaplin broke down and gave her the money.

In 1923, Charlie Chaplin, D. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford formed United Artists. There, Chaplin made «Woman of Paris», «Gold Rush», «The Circus», and «City Lights.» He then made «Modern Times» in which he highlighted the issues with modern inventions. He also made «The Great Dictator.» In this picture, he plays both a Jewish barber and Hitler. While playing the barber, he expresses his feelings about the modern world. As he says,

«We think too much, and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness, and gentleness. Without these qualities, life would be violent, and be lost... Let us fight the free world--to do away with national barriers-to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance--jobs for youth--security for the old age. Let us fight for a world of reason--a world of science--where progress will lead happiness to us all. Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us unite!» (Jepstein, 31).

Americans disliked the way Chaplin viewed things. He was an atheist and socialist. Also, he expressed sympathy for Leftists. The FBI accused him of being a communist and of being Jewish. The FBI put spy equipment in his hotel rooms to see what he was doing (Hale, 3). By November 1948, Charlie Chaplin was put in the Security Index. This means he was among the people the FBI was watching most closely. (Hale, 3) This means he was. Also, to add to these troubles, Chaplin was charged with another paternity suit. It was made very public. Though Chaplin was able to prove he was not the father, Americans viewed the case as another reason to believe Charlie Chaplin was a corrupt individual. (Encyclopedia of World Biography, 439) In 1952, while on a vacation to England, Chaplin received a letter from the FBI. It said the FBI would challenge his return to the United States of America. The charge claimed that he was immoral and politically unreliable. He had never become an American citizen, so he sold all of his American possessions and moved to Geneva, Switzerland. He settled in a house called «Corsier de Vevey.» In 1957 he visited England and made «The King in New York.» It was never shown in the United States (Encyclopedia of World Biography,439).

Chaplin wrote his autobiography in 1964. It was called «My Autobiography.» In his autobiography, Chaplin included names of people he disliked. Many American critics disapproved of this.

However, times got better for Chaplin. In 1972 he won an Academy Award for being a great comedian. This was his first time back in America since 1952. He also was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1975. Two years later on Christmas day, he died of natural causes at his house in Switzerland. He was eighty-eight, and left behind eight children with Oona, his wife since 1943. People now view him as the father of comedy.

«Chaplin was a lovable but unloving figure--a fascinating, elusive, and difficult human being» - Encyclopedia of World Biography.




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