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April 16, 2024

20 Vintage Portraits of a Young Charlie Chaplin in the 1910s

Charlie Chaplin (April 16, 1889 – December 25, 1977) was an English internationally renowned Academy Award-winning actor, comedian, filmmaker and composer who was best known for his career in Hollywood motion pictures from his debut in 1914 until 1952; he however subsequently appeared in two films in his native England. During his early years in the era of silent film, he rose to prominence as a worldwide cinematic idol renowned for his tramp persona. In the 1910s and 1920s, he was considered the most famous person on the planet.

Chaplin was born in London and began acting on stage at the age of nine. In 1913, while on tour in the United States with Fred Karno’s comedy group, he accepted a contract to work for Keystone Film Company. During his time at Keystone, he began writing and directing some of the films in which he starred. Chaplin signed with the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in 1915, and the year after with the Mutual Film Corporation.

Chaplin by 1918, began producing his own films, initially releasing them through First National Pictures and then through United Artists, a corporation he co-founded with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffith. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Chaplin was accused of being a Communist sympathizer, which he denied. He remained a British subject and, while traveling to England in 1952 to attend the premiere of his film Limelight, his American re-entry permit was rescinded. Chaplin eventually settled in Switzerland, where he remained for the rest of his life. He made his last two films in England.

During his lifetime, Chaplin received three awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. At the first Academy Awards ceremony, held on May 16, 1929, he was originally nominated for Best Actor and Best Director for The Circus (1928). The Academy dropped his two nominations, and he won an honorary award for writing, directing, producing, and acting. In 1972, he returned to the United States after nearly two decades to receive another honorary award, this time for his overall achievements in cinema. The following year, Chaplin’s score for Limelight received the Academy Award for Best Music. Although 20 years old by this time, Limelight had not been released in the Los Angeles area until 1972, and had not been eligible for Academy Award consideration before then. Chaplin also received Academy Award nominations in 1940 for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for The Great Dictator. In 1942, Chaplin released a new version of The Gold Rush, taking the original silent 1925 film and composing and recording a musical score. The Gold Rush was nominated for Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture). Notwithstanding the belated nomination for Limelight, his final contemporary nomination was in 1947 for his screenplay of Monsieur Verdoux.

For his work in motion pictures, Chaplin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the American Film Institute has listed him among the best actors of the Classical Hollywood cinema era.


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