Person    | Male  Born 16/4/1889  Died 25/12/1977

Charlie Chaplin

Categories: Cinema, Seriously Famous

Countries: Switzerland, USA

Born Charles Spencer Chaplin in East Street, Walworth (possibly, see Londonist). Comic actor, composer, director and producer. Born into a music hall family. He joined a troupe of child dancers, 'Eight Lancashire Lads' at the age of 8. At 17, whilst on tour in America, he joined the Mack Sennett Keystone Company motion picture company. His acting technique was characterised by a high degree of pathos, accentuated in the then silent movies, but he was unwilling later to adapt his style to the 'talkies'. His success enabled him to co-found United Artists in 1919. His major films included The Tramp (1915), Shoulder Arms (1918), The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936) and The Great Dictator (1940). Became immensely famous and claimed that the only person he met who had not seen his films was Gandhi. 1952 left the US for a premier in London but, due to his supposed left-leaning political views (this being the McCarthy era), he was refused re-entry to the States and he went to live in Switzerland, where he died. He returned just once to receive an honorary Oscar in 1972. He was knighted in 1975.

Don't believe everything you read, especially about his poverty-stricken childhood - he embroidered shamelessly. For example his mother died in California in 1928, not when he was a baby. One story we hope is true: The Nazis, troubled by his success, asserted that he was Jewish. On being told this Chaplin replied "I do not have that honour."

Even his birth place is in doubt. According to the Telegraph his birth certificate has never been found and there are papers that suggest he was born near Birmingham.

January 2013 Spittalfields Life carries a wonderful article on Charlie in Spittalfields.

History.com tells the story of how Chaplin's body was stolen from the Swiss cemetery for ransom. (No money was paid, the culprits were arrested and Chaplin was reburied in a concrete grave.)

2022: Londonist report on Chaplin's time, aged 7, as a pupil at a school for destitute children in Ealing.

This section lists the memorials where the subject on this page is commemorated:
Charlie Chaplin

Commemorated atInformation

Chaplin - Lambeth Walk

The BFI date the Hippodrome performance to Christmas 1900. The quote about a ...

Read More

Chaplin mosaics 1

Southbank Mosaics

Read More

Chaplin mosaics 2

This image is from the 1918 'A Dog's Life'.

Read More

Show all 12

Other Subjects

Crown Film Unit

Crown Film Unit

Formerly the G.P.O. Film Unit, it was an organisation within the British Government's Ministry of Information during World War II. Its remit was to make films for the general public in Britain and ...

Group, Cinema

1 memorial
James Williamson

James Williamson

British film pioneer.  Born in Fife, raised in Edinburgh.  Came south as a master chemist. Became interested in photography and X-ray photography.  1896 he introduced the first programme of films t...

Person, Cinema, Scotland

1 memorial
Emeric Pressburger

Emeric Pressburger

Author and screenwriter. Born Imre Josef Pressburger at 3 St Peter's Street, Miskolc, Hungary. He moved to Berlin in 1926 to work as a journalist and scriptwriter. In 1935 he came to Britain and in...

Person, Cinema, Germany, Hungary

1 memorial
Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh

Born Darjeeling, India.  With her husband Laurence Olivier, she managed the St James's Theatre from 1950 to its closure in 1957. She led a vigorous but unsuccessful campaign to try and save it.  Di...

Person, Cinema, Theatre

4 memorials
John Barry

John Barry

Created the captions on the Hitchcock murals.  We think this means that he wrote them, rather than physically made them, and that he was chosen for his film knowledge.  But the existence of 'John B...

Person, Cinema

1 memorial