As the 1910s came to a close, so did the era of silent films. Now that people understood how movies could tell stories without words, they no longer felt silence was necessary for the film. Instead, they preferred characters who spoke. And yet, there were still some great silent film actors. Not only that, but these stars were so popular that many of them continued to make films after the public had turned their attention elsewhere. One such actor was Charlie Chaplin. Even though he wasn’t very tall and had a funny walk, Chaplin managed to become one of the silent film’s greatest stars. His character The Tramp brought him fame and fortune and made him one of the most recognizable faces in the world even today.
The Early Years
Born in 1889, Chaplin grew up in London during the Victorian era. He lived there until he was 19 when he moved to the United States. He was still very young when he began performing on stage. As he toured with his theater company, he developed a vaudeville act that involved mime, pantomime, and slapstick. As the years went by, Chaplin grew tired of touring. He wanted to try something different and decided to head to Hollywood. He had no connections and no money, but he managed to get a screen test anyway. When he saw it, Chaplin knew he could be a success. And he was right.
Growing Up Poor
It’s impossible to talk about Chaplin’s early life without discussing his poverty. As he grew up poor and hungry in London, Chaplin often turned to art as an escape. He wrote poetry, drew cartoons, and acted in local theaters. While Chaplin was touring in his vaudeville act, he found out his mother had died after a long illness. The news made him feel guilty for leaving her behind in London and for having not earned enough money for her during the last years of her life. Chaplin ended up giving most of his money to his mother before she died. But he was left with very little after that.
Becoming a Star
Despite his hard life, Chaplin was still able to become a star thanks to his talent. In 1914, he made his first silent film, titled “Kid Auto Races at Venice.” After that, Chaplin made a series of hit films, including “The Immigrant” (1917) and “The Police” (1916). During this time, Chaplin also met a young actress named Mildred Harris. They began dating and got married in 1918. Harris was the center of a lot of gossips, as she was six years Chaplin’s junior. But Chaplin’s relationship with Harris didn’t last long. They separated in 1920, and he went on to marry another actress named Lita Grey. Again, Chaplin’s marriage didn’t last long.
Chaplin’s Tramp, the Screen Icon
Chaplin’s popularity continued to rise, even as filmgoers were moving on in their interests. He was so popular that he became one of the richest men in the world. Chaplin’s films were still very popular with the public, and he was making lots of money from them. But the rise of the talkies didn’t seem to bother Chaplin. Instead, he used his Tramp character as his way of making films without sound. He played the part of mime in films like “City Lights” (1931) and “Modern Times” (1936).
Facts about Charlie Chaplin
During his lifetime, Charlie Chaplin was one of the most famous, popular, and successful people in the world. His iconic image survived his death in 1977 and his films are still screened today to large, appreciative audiences. Here are some facts about this silent film star and his life and career.
- Chaplin's parents were music hall entertainers.
- At the age of six, he was sent to a boarding school run by nuns.
- He made his stage debut at the age of 11.
- Chaplin was still a child when he began touring the world as part of a vaudeville act.
- He was a successful silent film actor, filmmaker, composer, and musician.
- Chaplin wrote the music for all of his films as well as produced them.
- He was married three times and fathered nine children.
- Chaplin was a keen boxer and swimmer.
- Chaplin was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1975.
- His iconic image has survived his death and he is still recognized as a key figure in early cinema.
- Chaplin's image is still used as a symbol of comedy and sadly, starvation.
Chaplin’s Tramp was one of the first characters whose popularity caught on during the silent film era. The Tramp was a poor, hungry, homeless man with a heart of gold. He was often involved in slapstick and other funny situations that kept audiences entertained. He was a unique character and one that will likely never be forgotten. But Chaplin’s success was due not only to his acting. He also wrote, directed, and produced many of his films. Chaplin’s films were full of life and laughter. They showed that silent films could be entertaining and that audiences didn’t care whether or not they had sound.