Charlie Chaplins comedy was rich in creativity and cleverness. His ability to make his audience laugh while touching universal chords of emotions was a rare gift. Perhaps his childhood made him sensitive to the thoughts of other people, or maybe his sad upbringing gave him the motivation to move beyond the limits of poverty. Whatever gave him the momentum to success in the entertainment industry was a blessing that caused millions to laugh with joyful abandon.
Chaplin was best known as the silent Little Tramp clown but his fame came over a period of years. Born in London in 1889, he lived with his divorced mother who made a meager living by sewing. She suffered a series of mental breakdowns and was institutionalized on several occasions, leaving Charlie and his older brother, Sidney, to take care of themselves or to live in a government sponsored home.
When Chaplin was 9, he toured with a stage company and had his first taste of life upon the stage. He later took small acting jobs and toured with several troupes. He eventually toured the United States and decided to stay here in 1912. He joined the Keystone Film Studios and, as the expression goes, the rest is history.
At this point in time, its as if someone fast-forwarded the film of his life. Chaplin had parts in nine movies in only two months. Although his parts were small, his star quickly rose with the introduction of his world-famous tramp character. However, he wasnt content to only act before the camera, he stepped behind the lens to direct as well. At age 25, he directed his first film, Twenty Minutes of Love. This began an interesting segment of his professional life, and one in which he began to combine pathos with comedy.
Chaplins first full-length movie was The Kid and this film secured him a place in history. It showcased his artistic ability and compensated him both financially and with a solid core of fans. Yet, he took a hard hit when he veered into serious fare with A Woman of Paris. By this time, Chaplin and comedy were synonymous and movie viewers didnt want him to change.
Satire was a comedic device used by Chaplin and was most evident in The Great Dictator when he took on the dangerous ideas of Adolf Hitler. The German ruler must have appreciated the humorous exposure because its believed he grew his signature mustache in imitation of Chaplin.
Chaplins personal life experienced a number of ups and downs, and his failed marriages made news regularly. He was denied re-entry into the United States because of his Communist leanings, yet in that same time period, he was awarded the World Peace Council Prize.
Charlie Chaplins life was complex, full of dark scenes and heightened emotions. From a childhood of poverty in England to a fortune made in the United States, this comedian perfected his craft with subtle actions and stinging satire. His audience readily accepted his humor because the themes were universal and the situations truly comical. Charlie Chaplin was larger than life and deserves to be a legend.
– Author Unknown