What a little tramp! Charlie Chaplin, who brought laughter to millions worldwide as the silent "Little Tramp" clown. Born in East Street, Walworth, London on 16 April, 1889, Charles Spencer Chaplin was the son of a music hall singer and his wife. Charlie Chaplin's parents divorced early in his life, with his father providing little to no support, either financial or otherwise, leaving his mother to support them as best she could. Chaplin's mother Hannah was the brightest spot in Charlie's childhood; formerly an actress on stage, she had lost her ability to perform, and managed to earn a subsistence living for herself, Charlie, and Charlie's older half-brother Sidney by sewing. She was an integral part of Charlie's young life, and he credited her with much of his success. Sadly, she slowly succumbed to mental illness, and by the time that Charlie was 7 years old, she was confined to an asylum; Charlie and Sidney were relegated to a workhouse (a government facility for orphaned and abandoned children).
Furthermore, The Great Dictator was Charlie Chaplin's first truly talking picture, and when it was finally released in 1940, it was a worldwide sensation. In the same year that Charlie Chaplin began working on The Great Dictator, the House Un-American Committee begins investigating Charlie. At first glance, there seems to be no reason for this -- until the second glance. Earlier Chaplin had done his patriotic part in raising money for the war effort, alongside his long time friends Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford raising large amounts of money for the war. Charlie was a lifelong pacifist, but he was also a realist who saw that the aggression of the Axis powers had to be stopped. In many ways, Chaplin was politically naive -- such as speaking at fund raisers for the Communist USSR, whom Chaplin simply saw as our allies in the fight. And by suggesting that America immediately open a two front war to help our "friends" in the Soviet Union....
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