Charlie Chaplin

By | Apr 16, 2009

The man who created one of the most recognizable characters in film history, Charlie Chaplin, was born in 1889 on April 16. Chaplin created his ‘Little Tramp’ character in 1914 and appeared in silent comedy shorts and later in feature films into the 1930’s.

Chaplin’s parents were British Music Hall entertainers. Music Halls in England were similar to the vaudeville houses in America. His parents separated before Chaplin was three and he and his brother Sydney lived with their mother.

Chaplin came to New York when he was 21 in 1910 as part of Fred Karno’s vaudeville troup. By 1913 he had signed a contract with the newly formed Keystone Pictures under Mack Sennett. His first motion picture was the 1914 comedy short Making a Living. It was followed by Kid Auto Races at Venice, the film in which he first played his famous character.

Along with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith, Chaplin teamed together in 1919 to form their own studio, United Artists. Due to prior contracts he was not able to make his first film for the studio until 1923 with A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate.

Chaplin was married four time, the first three were short. Mildred Harris from 1918 to 1920, Lita Grey from 1924 to 1928 and Paulette Goddard from 1936 to 1942. Shortly after his marriage ended with with Goddard he met the 18 year old daughter of Playwright Eugene O’Neill. When he married Oona O’Neill in 1943 he was fifty-four. Because of their marriage, O’Neill disowned his daughter.

They had three sons: Christopher, Eugene and Michael Chaplin and five daughters: Geraldine, Josephine, Jane, Victoria and Annette-Emilie Chaplin. He also a son, Norman Spencer Chaplin, who lived for three days in 1919 with Mildred Harris and two sons, the actors Charles Chaplin Jr. (1925–1968) and Sydney Earle Chaplin (1926–) with Lita Grey. Chaplin and Oona remained married until his death on Christmas Day in 1977.


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