Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin
 

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, KBE (April 16, 1889 – December 25, 1977) was the most famous actor in early to mid Hollywood cinema, and later also a notable director. His principal character was "The Tramp": a vagrant with the refined manners and dignity of a gentleman who wears a tight coat, oversized pants and shoes, a derby or bowler hat, a bamboo cane, and his signature square mustache. Chaplin was one of the most creative personalities in the silent film era; he acted in, directed, scripted, produced, and eventually scored his own films.

Biography

He was born in Walworth, London, England to Charles, Sr. and Hannah Harriette Hill, both Music Hall entertainers. His parents separated soon after his birth, leaving him in the care of his increasingly unstable mother. In 1896, she was unable to find work; Charlie and his older half-brother Sydney had to be left in the workhouse at Lambeth, moving after several weeks to Hanwell School for Orphans and Destitute Children. His father died an alcoholic when Charlie was 12, and his mother suffered a mental breakdown, and was eventually admitted to the Cane Hill Asylum near Croydon. She died in 1928.

Charlie Chaplin first took to the stage when, aged 5, he performed in Music Hall in 1894, 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. In 1900, aged 11, his brother 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. According to immigration records, he arrived in America with the Karno troupe on October 2, 1912. In the Karno Company was Arthur Stanley Jefferson, who would become known as Stan Laurel. Chaplin and Laurel wound up sharing a room in a boarding house. Chaplin's act was eventually seen by film producer Mack Sennett, who hired him for his studio, the Keystone Film Company.

While Charlie Chaplin initially had difficulty adjusting to the Keystone style of film acting, he soon adapted and flourished in the medium. This was made possible in part by Chaplin developing his signature Tramp persona, and by eventually earning directorship and creative control over his films, which enabled him to become Keystone's top star and talent.

 

Awards

 

 

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin