AP US History
January 3rd, 2011
Charles “Charlie” Chaplin is a name that is incredibly well known not only in the United States, but around the world as well! Charlie Chaplin was an actor, a comedian, and a natural born performer. He never failed to excite his audiences with new comedy sketches and dramas. Not only was he a spectacular performer, but later in life he began writing movies and plays as well; Charlie was a man of many talents. He loved being in the lime light! To the world he seemed to be an incredibly happy man, but in reality his life was anything but easy. Charlie went through many ups and downs during the course of his life. He was faced with such terrible circumstances in which the average human, most likely, could never have endured. Charlie never gave up and despite all of the obstacles in his life he found a way to make something of himself. He chose to share his journey in a book entitled, My Autobiography. In this amazing book he shares with the world his journey from being a poor boy, living in the outskirts of London, to becoming a world-wide phenomenon!
Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr. was born on April 16th, 1889 in the outskirts of London, England. Both his mother and father were performers. His mother, Hannah Chaplin, was a singer. His father, Charles Chaplin Sr, was an actor. He had an older brother named Sydney. Charlie’s father was a drunkard and therefore his mother and father split. Consequently, Charlie did not have a father figure in his life as he was growing up. His mother was the one who raised both him and his brother. She was doing incredibly well, both as a singer and as a mother. Then, she began to lose her voice. People stopped hiring her to perform because her voice would crack in the middle of performances. With the decrease of money flowing into their household the Chaplins had to move into a small one room house. Eventually, Charlie’s mother could no longer afford that house either and thus his family packed their belongings and moved to Lambeth Workhouse. Charlie and his brother Sydney were then moved to Hanwell Schools for Orphans and Destitute Children. After a few months Charlie and Sydney were notified that their mother had gone insane and had been shifted into the Cane Hill Lunatic Asylum. Authorities sent Charlie and his brother to live with their father. This was probably the worst time period in Charlie’s life. His stepmother treated both him and his brother extremely terribly! She forced Charlie to clean the house everyday once he returned from school and she did not even give Sydney a bed to sleep on. Charlie’s father could not do much because he was never sober enough to understand what was going on. Charlie and Sydney endured this rough treatment for a while until their mother was finally released. Unfortunately, later on, she was again placed back in the asylum for the remainder of her life. Charlie began his official acting career at the age of eight; he was given a spot in the group The Eight Lancashire Lads. At age eighteen he began touring with Fred Karno's vaudeville troupe. He joined them for the troupe's 1910 US tour. This was his first visit to the United States. He traveled west to California in December 1913 and signed on with Keystone Studios' popular comedy director Mack Sennett. While at Keystone, Charlie appeared in and directed 35 films, starring as his signature character, the Little Tramp, in nearly all. In June 1917, Chaplin signed up with First National Studios, after which he built Chaplin Studios. Charlie's life as well as his career was full of controversies and scandals. One of his most well known scandals is perhaps the paternity suit filed against him by Joan Barry. Charlie and Joan dated briefly; however, their relationship came to an end in 1942, after a series of harassing actions from Joan. Charlie states, “She broke into the house, smashed windows, threatened my life and demanded...