Charlie Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889, in Walworth, London. He was a British actor, comedian, director, composer, screenwriter, filmmaker, publisher, and musician. He was one of the biggest actors of the silent film era. He is best known for his films “The Immigrant,” “The Kid,” “The Gold Rush,” “The Circus,” “City Lights,” “Modern Times,” and “The Great Dictator.” He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona known as “The Tramp.” His career spanned more than 75 years: from the Victorian era until a year before his death in 1977. Let’s celebrate his special day right here!
Charles Spencer Chaplin
April 16, 1889
December 25, 1977 (age 88)
Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889, in Walworth, London. He was a British actor, comedian, director, composer, screenwriter, filmmaker, publisher, and musician. Chaplin was one of the actors of the silent film era, noted for his use of mime and slapstick comedy. His films were characterized by clowning combined with pathos, typified in his screen persona’s struggles against adversity. He was best known for his films “The Immigrant,” “The Kid,” “The Gold Rush,” “The Circus,” “City Lights,” “Modern Times,” “The Great Dictator,” “Limelight,” “A King in New York,” and “Countess from Hong Kong.”
Chaplin and his half-brother spent their childhood in workhouses and charity homes. When he turned 14, his mother was admitted to a mental asylum. Chaplin began performing at a very young age touring music halls. At 19, he signed a contract with the Fred Karno company, which took him to the United States. He began working in 1914 for Keystone Studios. He soon developed “The Tramp” persona and attracted a large fan base.
In 1919, Chaplin co-founded United Artists, which gave him the freedom he needed when making films. His first feature film was “The Kid” (1921), followed by “A Woman of Paris” (1923), “The Gold Rush” (1925), and “The Circus” (1928). His first sound film was “The Great Dictator” (1940), which satirized Adolf Hitler. Chaplin was quite controversial in the 1940s. He was suspected of sympathizing with communists. He was likewise involved in a paternity suit and was known for his relationships with much younger women. He was then compelled to leave the U.S. and settle in Switzerland. He continued making films such as “Monsieur Verdoux” (1947), “Limelight” (1952), “A King in New York” (1957), and “A Countess from Hong Kong” (1967). He died of a stroke on December 25, 1977, in Switzerland.
Chaplin joins a tap dance group known as the Eight Boys of Lancashire.
Chaplin signs up with a theatrical agency as a comedic actor appearing in plays such as "Jim, A Romance of Cockayne" and "Sherlock Holmes."
He becomes a star performer in the burlesque routines of a juvenile troupe called Casey's Circus.
He co-founds United Artists with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D. W. Griffith, giving filmmakers the freedom to make Hollywood movies.
"The Great Dictator" (a parody of Adolf Hitler) is one of his most famous and successful films.
His last film "Limelight" tells the story of a comedian who loses touch with his audience.
Why We Love Charlie Chaplin
He has directed great artists
Charlie Chaplin was not only a great actor. He was also a brilliant director. He even directed Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren in “A Countess from Hong Kong.”
His silent movies
Sound was a revelation to the arts, but like all new technology, some people were reluctant to use it. Chaplin was one of them — he thought sound was unnecessary in pantomime. His film "City Lights" was produced when sound became the norm, and although it was a silent film, it did include some sound effects. Despite his resistance to the rising tide of talkies, the film was a huge success — it was one of his most celebrated works.
He encouraged Walt Disney
In 1937, Disney released his first animated feature “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” He was, however, unsure about how it would perform at the box office. Chaplin encouraged him to distribute the film — it became the highest-grossing animated film!
5 Surprising Facts
The first actor in “Time”
Chaplin was the first actor ever to appear on the cover of “Time” magazine in its July 6, 1925 issue.
He had blue eyes
Because people only saw him in black-and-white movies, everyone believed his eyes were brown, but they were actually blue.
His star took a while to arrive
He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame only in 1972 when he came back to the U.S.
An asteroid was named after him
Astronomer Lyudmila Karachkina named a main-belt asteroid “3623 Chaplin” four years after she discovered it in 1981.
His rich widow
He left his fourth wife over $100 million at the time of his death.
Charlie Chaplin FAQs
What inspired Charlie Chaplin to make “Modern Times”?
Mahatma Gandhi inspired Chaplin to make his classic movie “Modern Times.”
Who was Charlie Chaplin’s deaf friend?
Chaplin’s deaf friend was Granville Redmond who acted with him in silent films.
Was Charlie Chaplin's mustache real?
No, Chaplin’s mustache was fake; he would remove it (along with his bowler hat and cane) when he wasn’t performing.
Charlie Chaplin’s birthday dates