One day, Charlie Chaplin said a joke in front of the audience that made everybody laugh, then he said it for the second time and just some of them laughed, and when he repeated it for the third time no one laughed, he said if you can’t laugh over and over at the same joke, so why to cry over and over for the same gloom. Chaplin was an artist with a degree of philosopher hiding the sadness and grief under his funny image which engraved in our minds for many years. Charlie Chaplin is the greatest and most famous comedian of the 20th century, his fame was beyond description and there are more than a thousand books and articles have been written about him and translated into more than forty languages. Chaplin was a genius multi-talented artist who represented a wonderful comedy. He also produced, wrote, edited and directed his films, but what many people do not know is that he was also a gifted composer of songs.
Charlie Spencer Chaplin was born in Walworth, the poorest and most miserable suburb of London, on April 16, 1889. Chaplin said that his childhood was a journey of torment, his father was a singer of French origin and his mother was an actress and singer of Jewish origin, and his parents divorced before he reach the age of three years old. Although he inherited artistic talent from his parents, he did not know the bliss and fame but suffered in his childhood because of their divorce. Chaplin lived with his mother extreme poverty and difficult circumstances, especially after his mother lost her work in the theater due to the injury of her vocal cords.
Chaplin was obliged to work with his older brother in a shoe survey. After years, the family’s conditions deteriorated, and Chaplin’s mother was no longer able to take care of him and his brother, so the authorities decided to put the two children in the poor shelter. Charlie’s father died when Charlie was 13 years and his mother suffered a nervous breakdown to be placed in the mental institution. Charlie Chaplin’s comic creativity appeared on stage at an early age, when he found himself at the age of five forced to save his mother when she lost her voice while singing amid the shouting and the audience’s booing, he presented an improvisational presentation that won the audience’s admiration.
After spending nearly 20 years of theater work in England, Charlie accompanied a theater group in the United States. He moved to the cinema at the beginning of its era and appeared in a number of Short silent American comedy films in 1914 where he attained instant success and became one of the top comedy stars in the American cinema and the highest-paid. Charlie invented and developed the character of the vagrant and added various human dimensions that began in the classical form of the tramp, including his hat, stick, his wide trousers, his big shoes and his special walk. It also included his fast comic movements and his adventures, which combined romantic stories, influential emotional humanitarian attitudes and sad tragic stories. Charlie Chaplin devoted his energy to the producing, writing, editing, distributing and directing his films and then composing its soundtracks and songs. The character of the comic cinematic tramp associated with Charlie’s character in the minds and imagination of many generations of the cinema pioneers around the world.
He captivated the people’s love and appreciation by providing technical high-level cinematic works which had a social and compassionate content that attracted people’s feelings and emotions.
The character of the tramp combined naivety and intelligence, which reaches the limit of ingenious. He was a failure in the performance of his duties, but he was deceitful in circumventing and tampering to reach his purposes. Charlie Chaplin expressed the spirit and essence of comedian art in his films and always realized that comedian art was a serious art in its gist. The hobo did not realize that he was a ridiculous, but he made the whole world laugh. As he was part of the cinema in its first days, Chaplin developed his movies with cinema progress.
When the era of the vagabond passed, he turned to talkies movies, and that change was necessary for Chaplin and for the time in which he presented his films. Chaplin was initially opposed to this development; he saw that true art did not need words to reach to the viewer.
Chaplin’s films have played a major and vital role in the history of cinema and have played a pivotal part in the artistic development of movies. His silent film masterpieces included films such as THE KID, THE GOLD RUSH, CIRCUS, CITY LIGHTS and MODERN TIMES. These films have been placed in the best of the 20th century till now.
One of the biggest signals of his impact in the US film industry is that two cinematographic studios announced bankruptcy after Chaplin left them to work with another studio; this may be a clear indication of the crucial role played by Charlie’s films in the revenues of those studios and the popularity they achieved.
Exile from the United States
In 1940, Chaplin embodied the character of Adolf Hitler in a comical way in his film The Great Dictator, in which he put his own vision of dictatorship, authoritarianism and the dream of world domination, the film caused a lot of quandaries for Chaplin until he was expelled from America and moved to Switzerland. Nazi Germany was in its most powerful condition in that time, but he did not hesitate to present the film and attack Hitler. The GREAT DICTATOR film was not the only reason for Charlie’s ejection outside America but he was accused of his communist leanings. He was under intense surveillance by the FBI in an attempt to get any evidence of Chaplin’s espionage for communism, but the FBI and its English counterpart found no evidence against him. Nevertheless, Chaplin remained banned from returning to the United States from 1952 until his death.
Charlie Chaplin married four times, his first wife was the movie star Mildred Harris and his marriage was a kind of comedy where she was 16 years old, which led to the indignation of the American society against him. After his first failed experience, he decided to marry Lillita and after two years of marriage he had two children, this marriage of Lillita MacMurray, whose nickname was “Lita Grey” considered as the worst affair to Charlie throughout his life. Grey filed for divorce and after consultations they got divorced, and she had received a substantial financial compensation and their problems led to the beginning of a press attack, the reason of that criticism was that one of Grey’s complaints against Chaplin was accusing him of not being able to feed his children, the American women’s associations supported her after this grievance.
One of those associations announced if Chaplin thought he could starve his children, he was mistaken; these organizations began to raise funds with the title “For Feeding Chaplin’s Children”, which greatly reduced his popularity throughout that period.
Chaplin married for the third time to the movie star Paulette Goddard, whom he loved deeply because she shared moments of madness and unity with him but over time their relationship deteriorated until they broke up.
Chaplin’s fourth and last wife was O’Neill, the daughter of famous playwright Eugene O’Neill, who did not consent to the marriage because he believed that his daughter would suffer the same fate of his ex-wives and his daughter was only 18 years old at that time, while Chaplin was 54 years old, but the father’s expectations have been entirely misplaced because his daughter remained the sarcastic man’s wife for life and had eight children.
Chaplin won The Academy Honorary Award in 1927 and 1971; he also won The Oscar for best soundtrack for his famous movie “City Lights”.
Chaplin died in 1977 after eighty-eight years full of labor and struggle, proffering happiness for millions of people in more than 80 films, more than 20 heads of state took part in the ceremony for a state funeral, with the attendance of millions who raised his photographs while they crying, but Chaplin’s exotic tales did not end here, after his death and specifically on 2 March 1978 his coffin was stolen in one of the Christmas, and it was a direct attempt to obtain a ransom from his family. The police retrieved the stolen body after 11 weeks of searching.
Charlie Chaplin was a rare genius artist at everything; he succeeded in bringing smiles to the faces during the worst periods of humanity and painful years of devastation and annihilation, where World War I and World War II.