10 Things You Didn’t Know About Charlie Chaplin

Above: Film legend Charlie Chaplin
Above: Film legend Charlie Chaplin

Thursday April 16th marks the 126th birthday of film legend Charlie Chaplin. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about him:

1. Chaplin was sent to the London workhouses as a child

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in London, England, on April 16, 1889. Charlie’s father was a drinker and abandoned Chaplin, his mother and his older brother shortly after Charlie was born.

Charlie’s mother Hannah was a music hall singer who suffered from mental illness and was committed to a mental asylum when Charlie was only 14. Both Charlie and his brother were sent to the workhouses in London multiple times during their childhood because their mother couldn’t provide for them. His time in the workhouses largely inspired Chaplin’s later work.

2. Chaplin did more than just act

Chaplin is most famous for his character the Tramp. The little man with a mustache, bowler hat, and a cane became Chaplin’s signature look through most of his acting career. From 1914 to 1915 alone, Chaplin made and starred in 35 films.

Chaplin was much more than an actor though, he wrote directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films.

3. Chaplin married four times and had a total of 11 children 

Chaplin married four women throughout his life, and had 11 children. His youngest was born when Chaplin was 73 year old.

Many of Chaplin’s grandchildren followed in their grandfather’s footsteps and became actors, including Game of Thrones star Oona Chaplin

4. Chaplin was banned from the U.S.

For years the FBI and members of the U.S. government questioned if Chaplin was a communist. During WWII several of Chaplin’s films were deemed morally and politically questionable. When Chaplin visited England for the premier of his film Limelight, Chaplin was denied reentry into the U.S. until he could prove his “moral worth.” Chaplin decided to cut ties with America and settled with his wife in Switzerland. 

“Whether I re-entered that unhappy country or not was of little consequence to me. I would like to have told them that the sooner I was rid of that hate-beleaguered atmosphere the better, that I was fed up of America’s insults and moral pomposity.”- Charlie Chaplin on returning to the U.S.

Charlie Chaplin on cover of Time Magazine

 5. Chaplin was the first actor to appear on Time Magazine

Charlie Chaplin made history as the first celebrity to be featured on Time Magazine. He appeared on the July issue in 1925.

6. Chaplin’s body was stolen from his grave.

Grave robbers stole the remains of Chaplin three months after his death. 11 weeks later the thieves were captured and the body returned. Chaplin’s remains now rest under 6 feet of cement in Corsier-sur-Vevey cemetery, in Switzerland.

7. Chaplin’s imprints were removed from the Hollywood Walk of Fame

After suspicions of Chaplin’s communist ties, his imprints on the Hollywood Walk of Fame were removed. The prints were then lost and have never been seen since.

8. Chaplin died on Christmas

Chaplin died at home, in his sleep after suffering a stroke on December 25, 1977.

9. Queen Elizabeth II knighted Chaplin when he was 85 years old

Charlie Chaplin became Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin after the Queen knighted him in 1975. 

10. Chaplin won an Academy Award for a film he made 21 years earlier.

In 1973 Chaplin won an Oscar for ‘Best Music, Original Dramatic Score,’ for his film Limelight, which was released in 1952. Because of the ban on Chaplin in America, the film was not released in the U.S. until 1972, 21 years after its original release. 

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