Charlie Chaplin

Topics: Charlie Chaplin, The Tramp, Silent film Pages: 5 (1603 words) Published: March 16, 2005
Charlie Chaplin did not use sound to communicate to the audience in his movies. Despite the fact that there was no spoken language, his movies were sensational and the audiences loved them. Chaplin was thought of as cinema's first genius and has been called the single most-influential artist in the history of motion pictures. I am researching Charlie Chaplin to learn how he became a sensational comedian and one of the best actors of all time.

Chaplin is considered as one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood. He lived an interesting life both in his films and behind the camera. Charlie Chaplin is most recognized as an icon of the silent film era, often associated with his popular "Little Tramp" character; a man with a toothbrush mustache, derby hat, bamboo cane, and a funny walk ("Biography for Charles Chaplin").

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in London, England, on April 16th 1889. Charlie inherited natural talents from his parents. He took to the stage to help him start a career in acting. Charlie's first stage appearance was at the age of five, when he had to fill in for his mother at a music hall performance ("Biography for Charles Chaplin"). He joined a juvenile tap-dancing group called "The Eight Lancashire Lads" at the age of eight where he quickly won popularity as a topnotch tap-dancer ("Biography of Charlie Chaplin").

At eleven, he appeared in "Giddy Ostende" at London' Hippodrome ("Biography for Charles Chaplin").
Charlie's parents, Charles Chaplin Sr. and Hannah Harriett, got married on June 25, 1885. His father was a versatile vocalist and actor. His mother, who performed under the stage name Lili Harley, was an attractive actress and singer who gained a reputation in the light opera field. The two also performed in music halls where she would play piano and he would sing ballads ("Charles Chaplin" 100).

Charles Chaplin Sr. died on May 9th, 1901 because of unknown causes. On May 5th, 1903 his mother was thrown into a mental institution and committed as a lunatic. Charlie and his half-brother, Sydney, quickly found themselves without a home or parents The boys were put in an orphanage where they were often cold and hungry. After spending two years in the orphanage, they were on their own ("Biography of Charlie Chaplin" ; "Charlie Chaplin" 94). Charlie often begged for money and worked as a lather boy in barber shops, or as a janitor in a music hall ("Charles Chaplin" 100). When he turned fourteen, he got a break when he was asked to act in a legitimate stage show as "Billy" in "Sherlock Holmes". Following that gig, at the age of eighteen, he started a career as a comedian in vaudeville ("Charles Chaplin" 100). In 1912 the troupe traveled to New York, where he was a featured player with the Fred Karno Repertoire Company. Mack Sennet, founder of Keystone Studios, saw him perform one night and decided to take him on at the Keystone Studio and offered Charlie a motion picture contract. Chaplin agreed to appear before the cameras at the termination of his vaudeville commitments in November of 1913 ("Biography of Charlie Chaplin"). He did not know it, but this would be the beginning of his legendary career.

Chaplin's initial salary was one-hundred and fifty dollars a week. In February of 1914, he debuted on the big screen starring in "Making a Living". Surprisingly, the film was considered bad at the time of its release ("Biography for Charles Chaplin"). His next film, however, changed his career forever. It was called "Kid Auto Races at Venice". The film starred Chaplin as a homeless man who appeared undersized and undernourished. He was nicknamed "the Little Tramp" or "the Little Fellow" by audiences ("Biography for Charles Chaplin" ; "Charlie Chaplin" 376).

His "Little Tramp" character, who had a toothbrush moustache, a battered derby hat, a bamboo cane, oversized shoes, a coat too small for him, and pants much too large, would star in nearly...

Cited: "Charles Chaplin." Current Biography Yearbook. 1961 ed.
"Charlie Chaplin." The New Encyclopedia Britannica. 1981 ed.
"Charlie Chaplin." The World Book Encyclopedia. 2001 ed.
"Biography of Charlie Chaplin." 27 Sept. 2004. Online posting. Available: .
"Biography for Charles Chaplin." 27 Sept. 2004. Online posting. Available: .
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