Biography of Charles Chaplin (1889-1977)

Charles Chaplin, better known as Charlot.

Actor, director, screenwriter, producer and musician of American film born on 16 April 1889 Walworth (London, United Kingdom) and died on December 25, 1977 in Vevey (Switzerland). His full name was Charles Spencer Chaplin.

Born in a suburb is London, into a family of actors of theatre and vaudeville, since his birth already had to suffer the family disagreements and the disappearance of his father when just had reached the age of five. It began at this age with small performances in shows of music-hall, always in the company of his mother, until it had to be admitted to a hospital, moment in which Chaplin was also detained in an orphanage with seven years. After leaving the Centre formed part of various groups of actors that performed works by the scenarios more diverse London and surrounding area, where it began to develop performances focusing on mimicry. From age 11 already worked with groups such as the William Gillette and, especially, of Fred Karno, who maintained a close collaboration until 1912, and which travelled to several European countries and the United States (in New York made his debut in 1910 with A night in a London Club). These were years of great training for Chaplin, where it was refined style and characters, moving in the world of burlesque and pantomime, pillars of their success.

After a second tour with the Karno company of New York, he/she decided to definitely stay in United States, due to the contract offered by Adam Kessel, representative of the Keystone film company, to intervene in the studio films. At the end of 1913 he/she went to Los Angeles and became part of the Group of actors of Mack Sennett, intervening in many comic films, first as one more of the heap and then as main actor. He/She was part of the Keystone Cops., and with just a year of work Chaplin showed that it had a place reserved in the firmament of the stars of the cinema, beside Mabel Normand, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and other members of the study. He/She took part, among others, in several films for Sennett (Charlot and fire; A cruel love; The romance of Charlot; all in 1914) and co-directed several with Mabel Normand (Charlot waiter;) Charlot in married life). It was already in this period when defined the character of Charlot (hat fungus, cane, mustache, tight jacket, baggy jeans and huge shoes), who was tweaking their latest films for Sennett Studio. In his first films as a director was a conqueror (Charlot and la Sonnambula, 1914), a fake dentist, a stagehand, a nurse and a goalkeeper (Charlot, Concierge, 1914), among other roles.

Chaplin career started on the right foot and in 1915 he/she was hired by the Essanay to interpret and direct their own stories, in which he/she had as a partner to Edna Purviance (Charlot, trasnochador; Charlot in the Park; The escape of Charlot) and occasionally in the cast: Gloria Swanson (Charlot change ex officio). It was a year in which his gestures began to debugging, showing a level of unmatched subtlety; he/she distanced himself from the creations made by other comedians of the time, where the action dominated history and sentiment seemed to not be.

With incessant activity, he/she joined the following year to the Mutual, looking to increase their salary which, little by little, stood among the greatest of Hollywood. He/She continued working with Frank D. Williams and Rollie Totheroh operators and Edna Purviance. His films developed many new stories, looking for different spaces so that Charlot could demonstrate its qualities and disappointments. Similarly, began his collaboration with the actor Eric Campbell (Charlot, responsible for Bazaar; Charlot, itinerant musician; Charlot, stagehand of cinema), forming a unique partnership that resulted in all kinds of situations that Charlot had to avoid the hopeless chaos. In any case, 1916 was an excellent year, because all his films showed great maturity that was enshrined with titles like Charlot tramp (perhaps the most complete history), goalkeeper Charlot's Bank (in which dreams to be the lover of the Secretariat) or Charlot lender (employee who woos the daughter of the owner and ends up being a hero when he/she manages to avoid theft). In all these films, as with Charlot, in the street of la Paz and Charlot in Spa (both 1917), managed to seamlessly integrate objects and various elements of the scenery with the dramatic plot that develops each story. They are works of great maturity on which consolidated its popular and creative success.

Charles Chaplin made famous his nickname of Charlot in roles such as the tramp, modern times, etc.

Well cemented his fame and when their films were a huge success around the world, Chaplin began to show a personal life that wasn't a conservative sector of the industry and American society, who joined in a front that attempted to boycott his career (which helped the fact that of declared useless to intervene in the first world war). However, already out of the Mutual it got a large contract with First National for five years a series of films that further added to his fame. The mastery of Chaplin was confirmed with dog's life and arms to shoulder! (both 1918), the boy (1920) and pay day (1922), among others, in which they had the undeniable support of his inseparable director of photography Rollie Totheroh. Sensitivity, criticism and complaint emerged in each of these stories, which increasingly devoted more time to perfect the fullest every moment, every glance and gesture, trapping the viewer in a contained emotion.

Frame of the boy.

Although in 1919 he/she founded with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and David Wark Griffith , United Artists, not could produce signed his first film until 1923 (a woman of Paris), due to his contract with First National. He/She was surprised that Chaplin does not appear as an actor, working left in the hands of Edna Purviance and Adolphe Menjou. However, the film, which was very well received at its premiere and attacked immediately and fiercely by various American pressure groups (banned its display in fifteen States), showed that the director learned much during her previous job as he/she built a history by applying highly effective new and evocative narrative resources spatio-temporal, progressing in subjects socially more complex (a melodrama about a sinful woman who defends social Puritanism) and opening a new way for his later work.

Misery, sadness, abandonment and domestic tragedy that the character of Charlot can live were reflected in other masterpieces that entered him in the talkies with more robustness and efficiency. The chimera of gold (1925) is a great story where elaborate gags (masterful sequence as the feast that occurs with his boot) summarizes perfectly the irony and acidity of your message. In the same vein, more emotive and sensitive found lights of the city (1930), where transcended his tragedy and the miserable existence of his characters, turning in the blind that located on the street that makes dream with a handsome millionaire who, after the operation, turned out to be a bum. These were years in which received a special Oscar for his work as producer, director, screenwriter and actor in the circus (1927).

Chaplin delved into the sound with the ability to own silent gesture, taking advantage of the sound to complement the idea and now, in addition to the metaphor to round off the picture. If previously it already showed their stance towards the world, events that follow each other relentlessly, with modern times (1935) reached the Summit of its criticism against the inclusion of the machine in the society, tool that ends with the few virtues that were in the coexistence of men, subjecting them to the tyranny of the chained to the productivity effort. He/She continued harassing the right-thinking minds with the great dictator (1940), a critique of totalitarianism represented by Hitler and Mussolini, who still exalted him most in his career (the Academy awarded five nominations to the Oscar). Chaplin showed his genius in one of the most memorable films in the history of cinema, a true monument to the creativity based on the richness of the visual gag. Most parliaments which were already heard in these films tended to reinforce the work of image that to point out the effectiveness of a dialogue that, on many occasions, unnoticed.

In the final stretch of his career (between 1946 and 1951), Chaplin faced American conservatives, the House UN-American activities Committee, got rid of his emblematic character, Charlot, in Monsieur Verdoux (1946, nominated to the Oscar as best screenplay) and decided that it should change of scenery. After selling his share of the Distributor and producer United Artists, went to Europe after brand new limelight (1952), film which was banned in the United States but received an Oscar in 1972 for the original music, and was the last collaboration with his inseparable Totheroh. He/She criticized his adopted country from a King in New York (1956), especially to the Committee which in turn tried to incriminate him by anti-Communist; to John E. Rankin, Member of the House of representatives who tried to push through his expulsion from the country and that ban all his films display; and the by the then Attorney general of the United States, James MacGranery, so to speak, when he/she was already in Europe, which had begun an investigation into the political past of Chaplin.

First and foremost this accumulation of events, Chaplin decided to stay permanently in Europe, residing in Vevey (Switzerland). He/She began to receive all kinds of tributes and honors. Was awarded the Legion of Honor in France; 'Sir' was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II; they gave her international peace and, two years before his death award, Hollywood awarded the honorary Oscar for the whole of his career.

Their romance and marriage were very commented and caused all kinds of reactions at the time. Married with young actresses Mildred Harris (1918-20) and Lita Grey (1924-27), a romance that also would end in marriage lived with Paulette Goddard (1932-42) and Joan Barry (who got to take the paternity of your child). He/She managed the emotional and familial stability when married to Oona O'Neill in 1943, with which it was United until his death. He/She wrote several books, including Charlie Chaplin's own story (1916), My wonderful visit (1922), My autobiography (1964) and My life in pictures (1974).

Without a doubt, Charles Chaplin is located between the larger actors that gave the history of the cinema, and raised this to the category of art from dramatic qualities that no one has been able to match. Like many others of his time he/she built a character, Charlot, who was the paradigm of human being which has given cinema, the icon that crossed borders and yet over the years, has remained in the minds of any espectador independent of the place in the world that speaks. The universality of its model is based on the purity of the gesture, the simplicity of the gaze and, especially in the burden of humanity that locked in each story, in a long career that was shaping up to acuity and irony, criticism and reflection and a commitment to unparalleled with the world that he/she lives. Forever was the image of the man who, after reflect the bitter sadness on his face moves down the road in the spectator assuming once again his solitude.


As a director

[Chaplin has been a screenwriter and actor in almost all his movies]

1914: Charlot and la Sonnambula; Charlot, fake dentist; Charlot suffragist; Charlot 'regisseur'; Rogue spring; Charlot, painter; Charlot, artist film; New placement of Charlot; Charlot and Fatty in coffee; Charlot Concierge. 1915: Charlot changes ex officio; Trasnochador Charlot; Charlot in the Park; A boxing champion; The escape of Charlot. 1916: Charlot responsible for Bazaar; Charlot firefighter; Charlot itinerant musician; Charlot Baker; JES, Charlot rival; Mabel and Charlot in races; Charlot tramp; Charlot dominates the piano; Charlot on the beach; Charlot working papelista; Charlot the perfect Lady; Goalkeeper Charlot's Bank; The count; Charlot, the one in the morning; Charlot lender; Charlot has a jealous woman; Charlot are deceived; Prehistoric Charlot; Charlot sailor; Charlot in the theatre; Graduate of presidio Charlot; Carmen; Adventures of Charlot; The journal of Charlot; Tramoyista Charlot of cinema; Charlot Skate hero. 1917: Charlot on peace Street; Charlot in the Spa. 1918: Dog's life; Weapons to shoulder!; The Board. 1919: the Sun; A day of revelry. 1920: The boy. 1921: Holiday. 1922: Pay day; The Pilgrim; Emigrant Charlot; The adventurer. 1923: A woman of Paris. 1925: The gold rush. 1927: The circus. 1930: The city lights. 1935: Modern times. 1940: The great dictator. 1946: Monsieur Verdoux. 1952: Limelight. 1956: A King in New York. 1966: The Countess from Hong Kong.

Just as an actor

1914: Charlot journalist; Extraordinary Adventures of Mabel; Suffocating careers; Charlot and fire; All for an umbrella; Charlot in the dance; Charlot, extremely elegant; Charlot, ideal guest; A cruel love; Mabel and the infernal car; Charlot's conquest; The romance of Charlot/adventures of Tillie; Referee Charlot.

As an actor and Co-Director

1914: Charlot harness; Charlot waiter; Charlot, elegant thief; Charlot in married life; Mabel, street vendor.


ALSINA THEVENET, Homer: Chaplin, all about a myth. Barcelona: Editorial Bruguera, 1977.

BAZIN, André and ROHMER, Eric: Charlie Chaplin. Valencia: Fernando Torres Publisher, 1974.

CHAPLIN, Charles: My autobiography. Madrid: Debate, 1993.

CHAPLIN, Charles, Jr. and RAU, N. and M.: my father, Charles Chaplin. Barcelona: Seix and Barral, 1960.

FRANÇA, José Augusto: Charles Chaplin. You self-made-myth. Lisbon: Inquérito, 1954.

GREY CHAPLIN, Lita, COOPER and Morton: My life with Chaplin. New York: Bernard Geiss Ass., 1966.

PAYNE, r.: Life of Chaplin. Mexico, F.C.E. 1956.

ROBINSON, David: Chaplin: his life and art. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985.

VILLEGAS LOPEZ, Manuel: Charles Chaplin, the genius of the cinema. Barcelona: Planeta, 1978.