Born on 16 April 1889 in south London, Charles Chaplin, from a start of humble beginnings, was later to become an extremely famous and determined actor with an extraordinary talent.
I decided to read Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography after watching the 1992 film Chaplin, starring Robert Downey Jr in the lead role. Even though I saw the film several years ago, I have been fascinated by Charlie Chaplin ever since and wanted to know more about the man himself. What made him tick and where he found the drive and determination to succeed? His autobiography was written almost entirely by memory when he was seventy-five years old and first published in 1964.
From humble beginnings of struggling through life and trying to survive, to eventually encountering enormous success, where wealth and fame shortly followed. Chaplin writes an emotional account of his early life, where he went to the workhouse with his mother and brother when times were extremely difficult. Being separated from his mother and witnessing his mother’s physical and emotional deterioration. His mother, Hannah, was in and out of mental institutions when Chaplin was a young boy. When Chaplin was older and could afford it, he had his mother transferred to a private institution. He later brought his mother to California to be with himself and his older brother Sydney, where she was cared for until her death in 1928. Early deprivation and inferiority fuelled his passion and determination for self-education and knowledge.
As a stage actor and comedian, Chaplin performed with various troupes in England and then voyaged to America where he travelled around touring for several weeks at a time. He later found fame and fortune writing, starring in and directing his own films. His most successful and iconic character was the Tramp. In 1919, he established United Artists alongside Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D.W.Griffith.
Chaplin led a colourful and adventurous life. He was married four times and had eleven children. He travelled the world, met the most incredible people and lived every day as if it were his last.
As a result of being a non-conformist, Chaplin was exiled from the United States in 1952. He briefly returned in 1972 to receive an honorary Academy Award. After his exile from the United States, Chaplin and his family relocated to Vevey in Switzerland. He died at his home on Christmas Day in 1977 aged eighty-eight, surrounded by his loving family and devoted wife Oona.
An awe-inspiring true account of one man’s incredible journey through life. Heartfelt and inspirational, Mr Chaplin, you truly were a comic genius.
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