‘Charlie Chaplin’ – ( Journey from rags to riches.)
Born – Charles Spencer Chaplin, 16 April 1889, Walworth, London, England.
Died – 25 December 1977 (aged 88), Manoir de Ban, Riviera-Pays-d’Enhaut District, Vaud, Switzerland.
Resting place – Corsier-sur-Vevey, Riviera-Pays-d’Enhaut District, Vaud, Switzerland.
Occupation – Actor, comedian, director, composer, screenwriter, producer, editor.
Years active – 1899–1976
Parent(s) – Charles Chaplin Sr.Hannah Chaplin (née Hill)
Awards – Academy Award (1973): Music (Original Dramatic Score) ,Honorary Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1972), Special Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1929).
Works written – My trip abroad, A Comedian Sees the World, My Autobiography etc.
Chaplin, one of the most financially successful stars of early Hollywood, was introduced to the stage when he was five. The son of London music hall entertainers, young Chaplin was watching a show starring his mother when her voice cracked. He was quickly shuffled onto the stage to finish the act. Chaplin and his older half-brother, Sydney, roamed London, where they danced on the streets and collected pennies in a hat. They eventually went to an orphanage and joined the Eight Lancashire Lads, a children’s dance troupe. Charlie Chaplin is considered a phenomenon in the world of acting. He is worshipped, studied, and imitated by millions of wannabe stars who want to ape his comic timing.
Charlie Chaplin had to struggle as a child. He was the son of poverty- stricken music-hall entertainers. Chaplin’s father, Charles Chaplin Sr was an alcoholic and had little contact with his son. His father died of alcoholism when Charlie was twelve. A larynx condition ended the singing career of Chaplin’s mother. After Chaplin’s mother (who went by the stage name Lilly Harley) was admitted to the Cane Hill Asylum, her son was left in the workhouse at Lambeth in South London. Charlie and his half-brother, Sydney, forged a close relationship in order to survive. They gravitated to the music hall while still very young and both of them were talented. Themes in Charlie’s films in later years would revisit the scenes of his childhood deprivation and poverty in Lambeth. A lot of his humour was rooted in pain.
On tour in New York (1913), Charlie caught the who signed him to a film contract. Unfortunately, Chaplin had considerable initial difficulty adjusting to the demands of film acting, and his performance suffered for it, but destiny gave Charlie eye of Mark Sennet another chance and there was no looking back. Chaplin’s earliest films were made for Mark Sennet’s ‘Keystone Studios’, where he developed his ‘tramp’ character and very quickly learned the art and craft of film making. Chaplin developed the costume baggy pants, derby hat, oversized shoes, and cane-that was to become the hallmark of his famous “little tramp’ character. He was soon directing his own films, and he produced, directed, and starred in such classics as The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940), Monsieur Verdoux (1947) and Limelight (1952).
Chaplin never spoke more than cursorily about his film making methods, claiming that such a thing would be tantamount to a magician spoiling his own illusion. In fact, until he began making spoken dialogue films with The Great Dictator, Chaplin never shot from a completed script. The method he developed was to start from a vague premise-for example ‘Charlie enters a health club’ or ‘Charlie enters a restaurant’. Then he had sets constructed, and worked with his stock company to improvise gags around them. This is creativity at its best. Charlie Chaplin’s unique film-making techniques became known only after his death, when his rare surviving cut sequences were carefully examined in the 1983 British documentary Unknown Chaplin.
5 Things You May Not Know About Charlie Chaplin:
1.Chaplin made his stage debut as a tot – Both of Chaplin’s parents were music hall entertainers in London. In his autobiography, he described how, at age 5, his mother’s voice suddenly failed in front of a crowd of rowdy soldiers. The stage manager—or possibly his father or one of his mother’s lovers—then ushered him onstage as a replacement. Chaplin first sang a popular song called “Jack Jones,” prompting the audience to shower him with coins. He purportedly drew big laughs by announcing that he would pick up the money before continuing. More laughter ensued when he began imitating his laryngitis-addled mother. A few years later, Chaplin made his professional debut as a member of a juvenile clog-dance troupe. He followed that up with a couple of theater roles, toured with vaudeville acts and did one disastrous night of stand-up comedy in which he was booed off the stage.
2. Chaplin partly grew up in an orphanage – As the health of Chaplin’s mother deteriorated, so too did the family’s finances. It got so bad that in 1896 Chaplin and his older half-brother were sent to a public boarding school for “orphans and destitute children.” Chaplin spent about 18 months there, the longest period of continuous schooling he would ever receive. He learned to read and write, but apparently suffered quite a few indignities, including a severe caning and the shaving of his head during a bout with ringworm. Shortly thereafter, his mother was committed to a mental institution. His father, meanwhile, played very little role in his upbringing and ended up dying of alcoholism at age 37.
3 Chaplin loathed his first film – During Chaplin’s second vaudeville tour of the United States in 1913, Keystone Studios hired him away for $150 a week. He made his first film appearance early the following year, playing an out-of-work swindler in “Making a Living.” Wearing a handlebar moustache, top hat and monocle, he got in a few funny gags, particularly while fighting the story’s hero, a journalist who at one point interviews a man trapped under a car instead of helping him. Overall, though, Chaplin was appalled by his performance. “I was stiff,” he later said. “I took all the surprise out of the scenes by anticipating the next motion.” He also accused the director of cutting his best material out of jealousy.
4. Chaplin played thr same character in all but a few movies – Prior to his second film, Chaplin dressed up one day in baggy pants, a tight coat, big shoes, a small bowler hat and a bamboo cane. He added a small fake moustache and is said to have strutted around while his co-actors were playing pinochle. Having witnessed the scene, the head of Keystone allegedly “giggled until his body began to shake.” “Chaplin,” he exclaimed, “you do exactly what you’re doing now in your next picture. Remember to do it in that get-up.” This so-called Little Tramp character immediately took off in popularity, spawning so many imitators and marketing schemes that the press labeled it “Chaplinitis,” and would become Chaplin’s onscreen persona for the next two-and-a-half decades. In 1914 alone, he appeared in dozens of short films as the Little Tramp, most of which he directed himself.
5 .Chaplin quickly became a millionaire – For $1,250 a week, plus a $10,000 bonus, Chaplin moved in December 1914 to Essanay Studios, which touted him as “the greatest comedian in the world.” He then signed with the Mutual Film Corporation for $670,000 a year, after which he agreed to make eight comedies for First National for over $1 million. Finally, in 1919, he founded his own studio with fellow Hollywood icons Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith. “I went into the business for money, and the art grew out of it,” Chaplin once said. “If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can’t help it. It’s the truth.”
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