Renowned fоr hiѕ character “Thе Trаmр,” the ѕwееt littlе mаn with a bowler cap, mustache аnd ѕtiсk, Charlie Chарlin was an iсоniс figurе of the silent film реriоd, lifting thе buѕinеѕѕ in a way fеw could have еvеr envisioned. Chарlin’ѕ beginnings are impecunious аnd troubled – thе very meaning оf rags-to-riches.
While most of us have had a childhood filled with happy memories with our family and a cozy home, Charlie Chaplin had to become his own parent at a very early age. Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on April 16, 1889 in South London. Chaplin belonged to a family that went through poverty. The entire family solely relied on his mother’s source of income, however even her income was unstable at the time as she occasionally worked as a dressmaker and a nurse. At the tender age of seven, Charlie was brought to live in a workhouse because his mother was no longer able to support him.
“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles.”
In the year 1898, Charlie and his brother were sent to Norwood School, a school for children with no means of living, while their mother was admitted to the Cane Hill mental sanatorium for having developed psychosis. For two years, Charlie and his brother lived with their father but he died from severe alcohol abuse. Charlie’s elder brother, Sydney, joined the Navy while Charlie was homeless and had to live on the streets, looking for food and shelter. Since Sydney and Charlie were taken away from their mother for all of this time, they had to fend for themselves.
Charlie credited his mother for being the first influence towards performing arts, as she entertained him as a child by sitting at the window and mimicking passers-by. About this he said:
“It was through watching her that I learned not only how to express emotions with my hands and face, but also how to observe and study people.”
With hardly any means of survival, Charlie had to think of a way to help themselves. It was quite obvious now that they inherited much talent and natural gift for performing from their parents, and soon used this as their best bet for a career. Charlie started of by being a member of The Eight Lancashire Lads, and quickly won over the hearts of many as a tap dancer. This helped him land his first serious acting role as “Billy,” a supporting role in “Sherlock Holmes,” when he was 12. He soon became a caricature comedian and began performing at various shows, eventually traveling to the US in 1910 with the Fred Karno Repertoire Company.
“Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT.”
With his very first performance itself, Chaplin won over the hearts of many Americans, and the Fred Karno group offered Charlie a motion picture contract in 1912 when they returned to the US. This ushered his entrance into film in 1913 with the Mack Sennet and the Keystone Film Company. In two years he moved to a bigger company and did bigger projects as a leading comedian as opportunities kept rolling in. And in the following year, he was signed up for 12 two-reel comedies, launching several hits.
“Think about yourself at least once in your life otherwise you may miss the best comedy in this world.”
After his contract expired, in 1917, he became an independent producer. He began producing many of his masterpieces from then on, some of which includes The Kid, A Woman of Paris, The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator.
“As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.”
One of the most notable names in film history, Charlie Chaplin did not achieve his success the easy way – far from it, in fact. His early childhood is lined with experiences where young Charlie had every opportunity to give up and succumb to suffering. Instead, he used his experiences to help him explore his passions and become a household name he is now. Charlie Chaplin is one of the greatest heroes in history, he took the sorrows of millions of people away, if even just for a few frames at a time.
Chaplin’s versatility extended to writing, music and sports. He had authored four books, “My Trip Abroad”, “A Comedian Sees the World”, “My Autobiography”, “My Life in Pictures” as well as all of his scripts. An accomplished musician, though self-taught, he played a variety of instruments with equal skill and facility (playing violin and cello left-handed).
He was also a composer, he had written and published many songs like: “Sing a Song”; “With You Dear in Bombay”; and “There’s Always One You Can’t Forget”, “Smile”, “Eternally”, and also the soundtracks for all his films. Charlie Chaplin was one of the atypical comedians who not only financed and produced all his films but was also the writer, actor, director and song track composer of the films as well.
He died on the day of Christmas in 1977, and was survived by eight children from his last marriage with Oona O’Neill, and one son from his short marriage to Lita Grey.
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