CHARLIE CHAPLIN (1889-1977)

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British comedian and filmmaker

Many comedians have come and gone but very few have matched up to Charlie Chaplin who is touted to be one of the greatest comedians of the 20th century. He specialised in silent films – a film with no recorded sound, especially spoken dialogue.

Many comedians have come and gone but very few have matched up to Charlie Chaplin who is touted to be one of the greatest comedians of the 20th century. He specialised in silent films – a film with no recorded sound, especially spoken dialogue.

Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889, in London, England. His is a true depiction of the rags to riches story. His father was a drunkard who eventually abandoned them. His mother, who was a singer, thus raised Chaplin and his brother. But Chaplin’s mother would later suffer from acute mental illness leading to her confinement in an asylum.

One day during a performance, Chaplin’s mother lost her voice forcing the production manager to thrust Chaplin onto the stage as he had heard him sing. This was the break Chaplin needed as he lit up the audience. But that also marked the end of his mother’s career, as she never regained her voice. Chaplin was only five-years-old and he and his brother had to survive on their own.

Using his mother’s contacts, Chaplin landed several shows; just enough to enable him and his sibling make ends meet. He did odd jobs in between. He made his film debut in 1914 and within a period of one year, Chaplin had made appearances in over 35 movies.

His star continued rising and by the time he was 26, he had made a name for himself in the film industry with movies such as One A.M. (1916), The Rink (1916), The Vagabond (1916) and Easy Street (1917). From then on, he continued to produce interesting films with the final one being A Countess from Hong Kong in 1967. Those who worked closely with Chaplin admit he was a grueling perfectionist.

His life off screen was just as dramatic as it was on screen. He had numerous affairs with actresses he worked with. He got married four times and had 11 children to show for it. He died at his home in Switzerland in the morning hours of December 25, 1977.

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