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Chaplin, Charlie (1887–1977)

Charlie Chaplin (1887–1977)



Charlie Chaplin was a brilliant mime artist and a key comic actor and director of Hollywood's silent movie (see entry under 1900s—Film and Theater in volume 1) era. Hired by the Keystone Film Company in 1913 for $150 a week, Chaplin quickly became a major star. Just four years later, First National paid him $1 million to make eight films. He once said that all he needed to make a comedy was a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl. But Chaplin's films combine wild visual jokes with serious issues such as immigration and unemployment. He appears as the "Little Tramp" in all his best work. The image of the man in the bowler hat with his turned-out feet is still famous the world over.

English-Chaplin never became an American citizen and left the United States in 1952. In 1972, a special Oscar honored him as one of the most distinguished figures in Hollywood's history. He was made Sir Charles Chaplin in 1975.


—Chris Routledge

For More Information

Cook, David A. A History of Narrative Film. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.

Epstein, Jerry. Remembering Charlie: A Pictorial Biography. London: Bloomsbury, 1988.

Mitchell, Glenn. The Charlie Chaplin Encyclopedia. New York: Batsford, 1997.

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