16 December 2008

Tramping Around

On December 16 in 1913 Charles Chaplin starts work at Keystone Film Studios for the first time under the direction of the legendary Mack Sennett.

Chaplin went on to create one of film's most singular and immediately identifiable characters, "Little Tramp" in Easy Street(1917); The Kid (1921); City Lights (1931); and The Great Dictator (1940), Chaplin's first real talking picture.

Most of the silent films of Charlie Chaplin are available on DVD and if you have never seen the Robert Downey characterization in "Chaplin", it is well worth the time.

Chaplin, born in poverty with a mentally ill mother, eventually became one of the most financially successful stars Hollywood has ever seen. He co-founded United Artists Corporation in 1919 with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and director D.W. Griffith. Chaplin seems to have had a fondness for younger women. He married three times, to teenagers each time. His fourth wife, Oona O'Neill, 18 when she married the 54-year-old actor, was the daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill.

Though he had lived in the United States for 42 years, Chaplin never became a U.S. citizen. He was a very committed pacifist, and was accused of communist ties, which he denied. In 1952 he was refused the right of entry into the United States, and as a result he did not return to the United States for 20 years, instead settling in Switzerland with Oona and their eight children.

Chaplin returned to America in 1972 to accept a special Academy Award for "The incalculable effect he has had on making motion pictures the art form of this century."

He was knighted Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin in 1975. He died two years later.


carol g said...

I just love your fountain of knowledge... thank you

Travis said...

Mr Chaplin was a genius in the true sense of the word in his comedic timing, and in his sense of the fine line between lasting entertainment and short-lived spectacle.