Charlie Chaplin: The Artist of All Artists
If there was a single actor who defined the silent film era, it was Charlie Chaplin. He was famous for his silent films, his mustache, his bowler hat, and his cane. He was also famous for his political and social views, and his humanitarian work. Most people have a favorite Chaplin film, or at least have seen one of his films. He was an early adopter of motion pictures, and was one of the very first screen actors to be recognized for his work. He was also the first actor to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was one of the most popular actors of his time, and has since been named as one of the best actors ever by the American Film Institute.
Birth and Early Life:
Parents and early life of Charlie Chaplin, the famous comic actor, are shrouded in mystery. He was born in London, the United Kingdom, on April 16, 1889. He was the fourth of seven children to French immigrant parents, Hannah and Albert Chaplin. Both of his parents had experience in the field of acting. His family moved around frequently. They first lived in the Isle of Dogs, a district in East London near Canary Wharf. Although, the life and achievements of Charlie Chaplin are often discussed, his humble beginnings and upbringing by a single mother have often been overlooked; his father passed away when Charlie was only ten. Then the family moved to the United States when Charlie was still a young boy. The young Chaplin was raised in Portland, Oregon, where he spent most of his childhood.
Education and Beginning of Acting Career:
Charlie Chaplin began acting in school plays, and went on to perform at the Portland Opera and the MacDowell Colony. His career was launched when he arrived in New York City in 1916 with $16 in his pocket.
Education, family background, career, and personal life of Charlie Chaplin are all interesting topics in their own right. Educationally, Charlie Chaplin was a gifted student. He was first enrolled in an elementary school at the age of five and was a good student. He was encouraged to pursue higher education and went on to attend a technical school. Although he was born into wealth, Chaplin often suffered from financial difficulties, and he was forced to leave school at the age of 11.
At the beginning, little Charlie performed in a dance troupe and travelled extensively. His hard work paid off instantly. But, he was not satisfied with dancing steps only. He wished to become an actor for which he had to wait few years. He started his career as a comedian in a circus company (Casey’s Circus) in the year of 1906. As his attempt to act in a solo performance went in vain, the first breakthrough came through his brother Sydney. Sydney Chaplin somehow managed a workshop for his brother at Karno’s company. Eventually he strengthened his position in the company and gradually became a key actor by 1908.
Charlie Chaplin began his cinematic career in the silent era with a series of shorts that treated the theme of satire. Some of his early films included The Immigrant (1919), The Dictator (1919), and The Ruling Princeps (1922), and are included on film and television lists of the best works of art to have ever been made.
Charlie Chaplin worked in Keystone Studio for New York Motion Picture Company in 1914. His notable works of this period are Making A Living, Mabel’s Strange Predicament, and Caught in the Rain. In the same year (1914) he joined and started working for Essanay Film Manufacturing Company. During his stay in this company, Chaplin became a phenomenon actor. He signed a contract with Mutual Film Corporation in 1915. Two years later in 1917, Charlie joined First National Exhibitor’s Circuit. Due to a disagreement with the company, Chaplin along with his three colleagues formed a new company, United Artists in 1919.
Tough Family Days and Declining Career:
During 1920’s and 30’s, Charlie Chaplin spent most tough time in his personal life. These two decades had seen his separations from first two wives. His popularity went down and he had to spent lot of time resolving his family issues.
Next two decades 1940’s and 50’s saw the most controversial years in Chaplin’s life. The Great Dictator and Monsieur Verdoux created much controversies and labeled him as Communist. Hence, his return permit to U.S.A was revoked as he travelled to the Europe in 1952.
Life in Europe:
Eventually Charlie Chaplin and his family settled in Switzerland in the year of 1953. During his stay there, his film A King in New York, almost an autobiographical work, was released in 1954 receiving mixed kind of feedbacks. His career saw a sharp revival of his past glory during 1960’s. Most of his production during this period was re-working on his previous works. As time went on, the views of American critics as well as the society changed drastically. As the situation changed, so changed the reception and critiques of Charlie’s work in U.S.A. He regained his glory shortly.
Over his career, Charlie Chaplin was awarded numerous accolades for his talents as both an actor and a director. He won two Academy Awards for Best Actor and was nominated for another five. He also received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which is given to a filmmaker who has made a significant contribution to the industry. He was the first recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which is given to a performer who has made a significant contribution to the field of entertainment and the arts. He was the first actor to win a Best Actor Oscar, and he won the award three times. He also won the award for Best Director and was nominated for Best Film for both City Lights and The Modern Times. He was also the first actor to be named both the Most Popular and the Most Effective in a poll of Hollywood’s producers. He also received an Honorary Academy Award for his contributions to cinema. He was the first performer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and he also received the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from three different presidents. He was the only performer to star in a film that was named the greatest American film of all time and was the first performer to be named a Disney Legend. He was awarded the Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975.Thus, over the course of his career, Charlie Chaplin was awarded a host of prestigious accolades and achievements.
The life of Charlie Chaplin is a story of success and failure, of brilliance and obscurity, of highs and lows. He rose from rags to riches, from obscurity to worldwide fame, from being a struggling actor to being the most famous man in the world. He became an icon for the masses, for the common man, for the silent movie era, for the world. He became a symbol of hope, of dreams, of the best that the world has to offer.
Charlie Chaplin is one of the most influential and celebrated figures in 20th century cinema. He was a master of comedy, and is often considered the greatest actor of silent cinema. He became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and is often credited with saving the industry from bankruptcy. He was also one of the first filmmakers to use modern editing techniques and was an outspoken social activist.
The Artist of all Artists, of all time, passed away on 25th December, 1977 during his sleep.