Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889-25 December 1977) was an English actor, comedian, and filmmaker, who rose to fame in the silent era. Chaplin became a worldwide icon through his screen persona “The Tramp” and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry.
His career spanned more than 75 years, from childhood in the Victorian era until a year before his death at age 88, and encompassed both adulation and controversy.
Chaplin’s childhood in London was defined by poverty and hardship. As his father was absent and his mother struggled financially, he was sent to a workhouse twice before the age of nine. When he was 14, his mother was committed to a mental asylum.
Chaplin began performing at an early age, touring music halls and later working as a stage actor and comedian. At 19 he was signed to the prestigious Fred Karno company, which took him to America. Chaplin was scouted for the film industry and made his first appearance in Keystone Studios’s Making a Living (1914).
Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films. He was a perfectionist and his financial independence enabled him to spend years on the development and production of a picture.
His films are characterized by slapstick combined with pathos, typified in the Tramp’s struggles against adversity. Many contain social and political themes, as well as autobiographical elements.
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