Charlie Chaplin (Charles Spencer Chaplin)
Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin image courtesy: tjeremyt.com
As a boy and a man
Charlie Chaplin’s life was a story stranger than fiction, his childhood was miserable due to abject poverty which forced him to stay in orphanages managed by greedy and cruel managements.
His youth and middle age times were perturbed by so many ladies absurd courtships all ended either in unsolvable problems or long litigations.
Charles Spences Chaplin was named in the New Year's Honours List in 1975 and, on March 4, was knighted at the age of 85 as a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
As an old man
Charlie Chaplin had every thing he wished, money fame and all. But he spoiled his life by getting engaged in uncalled for comments on political matters which spoiled his entire image and peace of mind. His innocent remarks on subject he did not know made him so unpopular in both US and UK (Chaplin had citizenship in both nations later he moved to Switzerland due to these skirmishes). After death he definitely deserved peace but that was not the case.
No peace in the hands of death!
His dead body laid to rest at the Corsier-Sur-Vevey cemetery at Geneva was stolen by some mechanics of Polish and Bulgarian origin. They were demanding ransom from his family members. Only after eleven long weeks the culprits could be captured and the body recovered from near Geneva Lake. Now the body rests in Vevey cemetery about six feet depth covered by hard concrete to give the body some peace!
Charles Spencer Chaplin popularly known as Charlie Chaplin was born in April 16, 1889 in East Street Walworth London. There was not much to speak about his early childhood except these facts that his father (Mr. Charles Chaplin Sr.) was a chronic alcoholic, mother (Mrs. Lily Harvey Chaplin- a professional singer in a third rated theater had occasional bouts of insanity) and the family was in utter poverty. Chaplin had to spend his boyhood in poor homes and orphanages where he was tortured and insulted to such extreme levels that until death Chaplin had to live with the scars of the agonies he received as a little boy.
A debutant par excellent!
At the age of five he took to acting when his mother a singer in a cheap theater broke down while performing and had to withdraw suffering cruel insults from soldiers and rowdies who were the main spectators of that ‘absurd theater’. His mother while singing an Irish March song lost her voice inviting wrath and insult from the viewers. Just to escape the mob-violence the manager of the theater (who has found little Charlie performing before his mother’s friends) led Charlie by hand to the stage to perform whatever the little boy knew. The rest is history!
What he has to say
In his autobiography he writes “It was owing to mother’s illness that at the age five I made my first appearance on the stage. Mother was playing at a grubby inferior theatre catering mostly to soldiers. They were a rowdy lot and wanted little excuse to ridicule.
I remember standing in the wings when mother’s voice cracked and went into a whisper. The audience began to laugh make catcalls. Mother was obliged to walk off the stage.
The stage manager, who had seen me perform before Mother’s friends said something about letting me go on in her place. And in the turmoil I remember him leading me by the hand and, after a few explanatory words to the audience, leaving me on the stage alone. And before a glare of footlights and faces in smoke, I started to sing a well known song”.
What a debut
When his show was half through the soldiers began to cheer and shower on to the stage, he continues that he requested their permission to stop singing for a while and collect the cash, which was immediately accepted with cheers and wild applause! The show ended only when his mother came to the stage and took the performer home.
The little boy sung, interacted with the audience, danced and imitated every thing he had seen (even his mothers last and tragic performance which occurred minutes back while singing her masterpiece – the Irish March Song – along with the final cracking of her sound in the stage!) was not spared.
These innocent gimmicks received big applause; audience threw money on to the stage as a mark of appreciation. They were delighted by the performance of this debutant young artist. That incident marked the meteoric rise of a star (as well as the eclipse of one -his mother who had never performed on stage after that day).
Rise of Charlie Chaplin as a big body in the film-world was quick and tremendous. He remained as the master entertainer all through his career that lasted more than six decades. The bitter memories of his early life haunted all through his life and the in- genuineness of Chaplin helped him to give shape to many of the characters; ‘The Tramp’ (1914) was a typical case.
A signature so universal.
Chaplin in his over-sized pants that was tied with a string, a jacket too small along with a derby hat were not enough, The enormous pair of shoes that could stick to the feet only if the left pair worn on right foot! The short trimmed moustache that could wriggle easily and the big bamboo stick (for walking stick) all became part and parcel of a great character which filled the heart with pathos while entertained them.
A lovable prankster.
Most often a weak, helpless and unfortunate, at times funny and master in playing tricks, maverick and prankster (who flattens even www wrestlers by his super tricks!) inviting applause only macho heroes could get, his characters always stole the hearts of spectators worldwide and remains as commercial success even now at a time when his masterpiece ‘The Tramp’ is almost ready at its golden jubilee fast approaching.
The Tramp was followed by many super hits, money and fame came in search of Chaplin whose psyche still was trapped in the bitter child hood period (he never could escape from that trap). Chaplin always shuddered at the thought that he may be a poor man again and those bitter days may be back.
A story of a vagabond.
In ‘The Tramp’ Charlie is a vagabond who got a chance save a girl from the clutches of a band of robbers, Charlie as a reward was brought to her home and given a servant’s job by her father who was a well to do farmer. When those robbers came to loot the girls’ house Charlie could trounce them, but was injured at the leg and was lucky enough to be nursed by the beautiful girl.
As the flower of romance was just to bloom in his arid mind; see what fate had in store! Bad luck arrives in the form the sweet heart of that girl! ‘A tramp is a tramp and always a tramp’. He packs up his cotton-baggage and goes on his vagabonding way. We see him in the fade out scene and set to pursue his life as a vagabond. It was the innate fear which haunted him since he was a child.
In December 25th 1977 Charlie Chaplin passed away before completing his last project named ‘Freak’ while asleep. He has given birth to numerous creations in his long career which spanned 65 years most of them masterpieces and they are still box office hits as time could not diminish their impact. Spectators; whether young or old, rich or poor; love the Charlie Chaplin stuff, that is its-magic. ‘The tramp’ is about to celebrate its centenary soon, it is hoped that it will remain in the hearts of movie buffs all through the world for centuries to come.
Great Chaplin films.
The Tramp (1914)
Shoulder arms (1918)
The kid (1921)
A Woman of Paris (1923)
Gold rush (1925)
The circus (1928)
City lights (1931)
Modern times (1936)
The great dictator (1940)
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
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