English film actor, director,
producer, screenwriter, member of the Club of Dreamers (Dream by Susan V. Bosak).
Chaplin has been called the single most influential artist in the history
of motion pictures. He is an icon of the silent era and maintained his status even as sound became a part of film. He elevated screen comedy
to a high art.
Chaplin was a perfectionist, working out every last detail in his films, even though they often appeared spontaneous. His most famous character was "The Little Tramp," a lovable, shabby dreamer with a brushy moustache, bowler hat and cane, who was always optimistic despite being downtrodden.
In 1919 he co-founded, along with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D. W. Griffith, the United Artists Corporation.
The Kid (1921) made him an international star, and he went on to make his major works including The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), and The Great Dictator (1940).
Over the years he was involved in many relationships and marriages ending in messy divorces, until settling in Switzerland with his young wife Oona, daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill, with whom he had eight children.
His left-leaning ideals brought Chaplin criticism in America. He did not return to the USA until 1972, when he accepted a special Academy Award. He was knighted in 1975 by Queen Elizabeth II.
Said Charlie Chaplin:
"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot."
"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself."
"I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician."
"No matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head."
Charlie Chaplin: Genius of the Silent Screen by Ruth Turk. Lerner Publications, 1999. A look at the personal and professional life of Chaplin, from his struggles as a vaudeville performer to his successes as an actor and director.
Charlie Chaplin: The Beauty of Silence by Alan Schroeder. Franklin Watts, 1997. An entertaining biography set against the movie history of the time.