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Handsome soul. Handsome fellow. Charlie Chaplin: "I am for people. I can't help it." A gentleman, poet, lonely, always hopeful


By WcP.Story.Teller - Posted on 16 April 2011

Charlie Chaplin without makeup and mustache, circa 1920

Chaplin with Einstein

Charlie Chaplin in movie Modern Times

Chaplin with Gandhi

Charlie Chaplin - a gentleman

Daily Show’s Jon Stewart Looks Like Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin
Born: April 16, 1889, London, England
Died: December 25, 1977, Vevey, Switzerland

- A man's true character comes out when he's drunk.
- A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.
- I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.
- We think too much and feel too little.
- I am for people. I can't help it.
- I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.
- I don't believe that the public knows what it wants; this is the conclusion that I have drawn from my career.
- I have no further use for America. I wouldn't go back there if Jesus Christ was President.
- A day without laughter is a day wasted.
- Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.
- Life could be wonderful if people would leave you alone.
- Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded.
- To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!
- We might as well die as to go on living like this.
- That is why, no matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head.

(quote)

The History of The Song SMILE – Composed by Charlie Chaplin and covered by Nat King Cole, Michael Jackson and others
“Smile” is a pop song, originally used as an instrumental theme in the soundtrack for the 1936 Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times. Chaplin composed the music, while the words were written by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. In the lyrics, the singer is telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, just as long as they smile. “Smile” has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin’s film.

Modern Times portrays Chaplin as a factory worker, employed on an assembly line. After being subjected to such indignities as being force-fed by a “modern” feeding machine and an accelerating assembly line where Chaplin screws nuts at an ever-increasing rate onto pieces of machinery, he suffers a mental breakdown. Chaplin is sent to a hospital. Following his recovery the now unemployed Chaplin is arrested as an instigator in a Communist demonstration since he was waving a red flag that fell off a delivery truck. In jail, he accidentally eats smuggled cocaine, mistaking it for salt. In his subsequent delirious state he walks into a jailbreak and knocks out the convicts. He is hailed a hero and is released. Modern Times is often hailed as one of Chaplin’s greatest achievements, and it remains one of his most popular films.

According to the official documents, the music score was composed by Chaplin himself, and arranged with the assistance of Alfred Newman. The romance theme was later given lyrics, and became the pop standard “Smile”, first recorded by Nat King Cole and later covered by such artists as Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Michael Bublé, Petula Clark, Liberace, Judy Garland, Madeleine Peyroux, Michael Jackson and Robert Downey, Jr. Nat ‘King’ Cole recorded version became a hit. According to film composer David Raksin, the music was written by him as a young man wanting to make a name for himself. Chaplin would sit, often in the washroom, humming tunes and telling Raksin to “take this down”. Raksin’s job was to turn the humming into a score and create timings and synchronization that fit the situations. Chaplin was a violinist and had some musical knowledge, but he was not an orchestrator and was unfamiliar with synchronization.

Charlie’s Mother: Hannah Chaplin and Charlie’s Father: Charles Chaplin Sr.
Charlie Chaplin always cited his own mother as a great inspiration on both his performance techniques and his outlook on life. Hannah was a singer and character comedienne in the British music halls with the stage name of Lily Harley, and she did enjoy some success. The senior Charles Chaplin married Hannah in 1885 and took to the stage professionally a year later. He was well known as a comic singer, and had a number of songs made famous by him, such as “Oui! Tray Bong!”, “Eh! Boys?” and - written by himself – “The Girl Was Young and Pretty”.

His marriage to Hannah did not last long, and they separated when Charlie was only about one year old. Charlie Chaplin had little contact with his father, except for a short period when he and Sydney stayed with Charles Chaplin Sr. during their mother’s stay at hospital. Did you know that it was Charles Chaplin Sr. who got Charlie Chaplin into "The Eight Lancashire Lads," his debut as a professional actor?

Did you know that Charlie Chaplin named the leading female character (played by Paulette Goddard) in The Great Dictator after his mother, Hannah Chaplin?
Did you know that Geraldine Chaplin, Hannah’s own granddaughter played the role of Hannah Chaplin in the 1992 biopic Chaplin?

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in London, England, on April 16th 1889. His father was a versatile vocalist and actor; and his mother, known under the stage name of Lily Harley, was an attractive actress and singer, who gained a reputation for her work in the light opera field.

Charlie was thrown on his own resources before he reached the age of ten as the early death of his father and the subsequent illness of his mother made it necessary for Charlie and his brother, Sydney, to fend for themselves. Having inherited natural talents from their parents, the youngsters took to the stage as the best opportunity for a career. Charlie made his professional debut as a member of a juvenile group called "The Eight Lancashire Lads" and rapidly won popular favor as an outstanding tap dancer.

Beginning of his career

When he was about fourteen, he got his first chance to act in a legitimate stage show, and appeared as "Billy" the page boy, in support of William Gillette in "Sherlock Holmes". At the close of this engagement, Charlie started a career as a comedian in vaudeville, which eventually took him to the United States in 1910 as a featured player with the Fred Karno Repertoire Company.

He scored an immediate hit with American audiences, particularly with his characterization in a sketch entitled "A Night in an English Music Hall". When the Fred Karno troupe returned to the United States in the fall of 1912 for a repeat tour, Chaplin was offered a motion picture contract.

He finally agreed to appear before the cameras at the expiration of his vaudeville commitments in November 1913; and his entrance in the cinema world took place that month when he joined Mack Sennett and the Keystone Film Company. At the completion of his Sennett contract, Chaplin moved on to the Essanay Company (1915). Sydney Chaplin had then arrived from England, and took his brother’s place with Keystone as their leading comedian.

The following year Charlie was even more in demand and signed with the Mutual Film Corporation to make 12 two-reel comedies. These include "The Floorwalker", "The Fireman", "The Vagabond", "One A.M." (a production in which he was the only character for the entire two reels with the exception of the entrance of a cab driver in the opening scene), "The Count", "The Pawnshop", "Behind the Screen", "The Rink", "Easy Street" (heralded as his greatest production up to that time), "The Cure", "The Immigrant" and "The Adventurer".

Gaining independence - When his contract with Mutual expired in 1917, Chaplin decided to become an independent producer in a desire for more freedom and greater leisure in making his movies. To that end, he busied himself with the construction of his own studios. This plant was situated in the heart of the residential section of Hollywood at La Brea Avenue.

Early in 1918, Chaplin entered into an agreement with First National Exhibitors’ Circuit, a new organization specially formed to exploit his pictures. His first film under this new deal was "A Dog’s Life". After this production, he turned his attention to a national tour on behalf of the war effort, following which he made a film the US government used to popularize the Liberty Loan drive: "The Bond".

His next commercial venture was the production of a comedy dealing with the war. "Shoulder Arms", released in 1918 at a most opportune time, proved a veritable mirthquake at the box office and added enormously to Chaplin’s popularity. This he followed with "Sunnyside" and "A Day’s Pleasure", both released in 1919.

In April of that year, Chaplin joined with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith to found the United Artists Corporation. B.B. Hampton, in his "History of the Movies" says:

"The corporation was organized as a distributor, each of the artists retaining entire control of his or her respective producing activities, delivering to United Artists the completed pictures for distribution on the same general plan they would have followed with a distributing organization which they did not own. The stock of United Artists was divided equally among the founders. This arrangement introduced a new method into the industry. Heretofore, producers and distributors had been the employers, paying salaries and sometimes a share of the profits to the stars. Under the United Artists system, the stars became their own employers. They had to do their own financing, but they received the producer profits that had formerly gone to their employers and each received his share of the profits of the distributing organization."

However, before he could assume his responsibilities with United Artists, Chaplin had to complete his contract with First National. So early in 1921, he came out with a six-reel masterpiece : The Kid (1921) in which he introduced to the screen one of the greatest child actors the world has ever known - Jackie Coogan. The next year, he produced "The Idle Class", in which he portrayed a dual character.

Then, feeling the need of a complete rest from his motion picture activities, Chaplin sailed for Europe in September 1921. London, Paris, Berlin and other capitals on the continent gave him tumultuous receptions. After an extended vacation, Chaplin returned to Hollywood to resume his picture work and start his active association with United Artists.

Under his arrangement with U.A., Chaplin made eight pictures, each of feature length, in the following order:

The Masterpiece Features

A Woman of Paris (1923)
was a courageous step in the career of Charles Chaplin. After seventy films in which he himself had appeared in every scene, he now directed a picture in which he merely walked on for a few seconds as an unbilled and unrecognisable extra – a porter at a railroad station. Until this time, every film had been a comedy. A Woman of Paris was a romantic drama. This was not a sudden impulse. For a long time Chaplin had wanted to try his hand at directing a serious film. In the end, the inspiration for A Woman of Paris came from three women. First was Edna Purviance, who had been his ideal partner in more than 35 films. Now, though, he felt that Edna was growing too mature for comedy, and decided to make a film that would launch her on a new career as a dramatic actress.

The Circus (1928)
"The Circus" won Charles Chaplin his first Academy Award – it was still not yet called the ‘Oscar’ – he was given it at the first presentations ceremony, in 1929. In the late 1960s, Chaplin returned to "The Circus" to re-release it with a new musical score of his own composition.

City Lights (1931)
"City Lights" proved to be the hardest and longest undertaking of Chaplin’s career. By the time it was completed he had spent two years and eight months on the work, with almost 190 days of actual shooting. The marvel is that the finished film betrays nothing of this effort and anxiety. Even before he began City Lights the sound film was firmly established.

This new revolution was a bigger challenge to Chaplin than to other silent stars. His Tramp character was universal. His mime was understood in every part of the world. But if the Tramp now began to speak in English, that world-wide audience would instantly shrink. Chaplin boldly solved the problem by ignoring speech, and making City Lights in the way he had always worked before, as a silent film. However he astounded the press and the public by composing the entire score for "City Lights".

The premieres were among the most brilliant the cinema had ever seen. In Los Angeles, Chaplin’s guest was Albert Einstein; while in London Bernard Shaw sat beside him. "City Lights" was a critical triumph. All Chaplin’s struggles and anxieties, it seemed, were compensated by the film which still appears as the zenith of his achievement and reputation.

Modern Times (1936)
Chaplin was acutely preoccupied with the social and economic problems of this new age. In 1931 and 1932 he had left Hollywood behind, to embark on an 18-month world tour. In Europe, he had been disturbed to see the rise of nationalism and the social effects of the Depression, of unemployment and of automation. He read books on economic theory; and devised his own Economic Solution, an intelligent exercise in utopian idealism, based on a more equitable distribution not just of wealth but of work. In 1931 he told a newspaper interviewer, “Unemployment is the vital question . . . Machinery should benefit mankind. It should not spell tragedy and throw it out of work”.

The Great Dictator (1940)
When writing "The Great Dictator" in 1939, Chaplin was as famous worldwide as Hitler, and his Tramp character wore the same moustache. He decided to pit his celebrity and humour against the dictator’s own celebrity and evil. He benefited – if that is the right word for it, given the times – from his “reputation” as a Jew, which he was not – (he said “I do not have that pleasure”).

In the film Chaplin plays a dual role –a Jewish barber who lost his memory in a plane accident in the first war, and spent years in hospital before being discharged into an antisemite country that he does not understand, and Hynkel, the dictator leader of Ptomania, whose armies are the forces of the Double Cross, and who will do anything along those lines to increase his possibilities for becoming emperor of the world. Chaplin’s aim is obvious, and the film ends with a now famous and humanitarian speech made by the barber, "speaking Chaplin’s own words".

Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
In the late 1940s, America¹s Cold War paranoia reached its peak, and Chaplin, as a foreigner with liberal and humanist sympathies, was a prime target for political witch-hunters. This was the start of Chaplin’s last and unhappiest period in the United States, which he was definitively to leave in 1952.

Limelight (1952)
Not surprisingly, then, in choosing his next subject he deliberately sought escape from disagreeable contemporary reality. He found it in bitter-sweet nostalgia for the world of his youth – the world of the London music halls at the opening of the 20th century, where he had first discovered his genius as an entertainer.

With this strong underlay of nostalgia, Chaplin was at pains to evoke as accurately as possible the London he remembered from half a century before and it is clear from the preparatory notes for the film that the character of Calvero had a very similar childhood to Chaplin’s own. Limelight's story of a once famous music hall artist whom nobody finds amusing any longer may well have been similarly autobiographical as a sort of nightmare scenario.

Chaplin’s son Sydney plays the young, talented pianist who vies with Calvero for the young ballerina’s heart, and several other Chaplin family members participated in the film. It was when on the boat travelling with his family to the London premiere of Limelight that Chaplin learned that his re-entry pass to the United States had been rescinded based on allegations regarding his morals and politics.

Chaplin therefore remained in Europe, and settled with his family at the Manoir de Ban in Corsier sur Vevey, Switzerland, with view of lake and mountains. What a difference from California. He and Oona went on to have four more children, making a total of eight.

A King in New York
With A King in New York Charles Chaplin was the first film-maker to dare to expose, through satire and ridicule, the paranoia and political intolerance which overtook the United States in the Cold War years of the 1940s and 50s. Chaplin himself had bitter personal experience of the American malaise of that time. [...]

To take up film making again, as an exile, was a challenging undertaking. He was now nearing 70. For almost forty years he had enjoyed the luxury of his own studio and a staff of regular employees, who understood his way of work. Now though he had to work with strangers, in costly and unfriendly rented studios. [...] The film shows the strain.

In 1966 he produced his last picture, “A Countess from Hong Kong” for Universal Pictures, his only film in colour, starring Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando. The film started as a project called Stowaway in the 1930s, planned for Paulette Goddard. Chaplin appears briefly as a ship steward, Sydney once again has an important role, and three of his daughters have small parts in the film. The film was unsuccessful at the box office, but Petula Clark had one or two hit records with songs from the soundtrack music and the music continues to be very popular.

Last Years
Chaplin’s versatility extended to writing, music and sports. He was the author of at least four books, "My Trip Abroad", "A Comedian Sees the World", "My Autobiography", "My Life in Pictures" as well as all of his scripts. An accomplished musician, though self-taught, he played a variety of instruments with equal skill and facility (playing violin and cello left-handed).

He was also a composer, having written and published many songs, among them: "Sing a Song"; "With You Dear in Bombay"; and "There’s Always One You Can’t Forget", "Smile", "Eternally", "You are My Song", as well as the soundtracks for all his filmsCharles Chaplin was one of the rare comedians who not only financed and produced all his films (with the exception of "A Countess from Hong Kong"), but was the author, actor, director and soundtrack composer of them as well.

He died on Christmas day 1977, survived by eight children from his last marriage with Oona O’Neill, and one son from his short marriage to Lita Grey.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of Photos courtesy of TotallyLooksLike.com, MovieStarsMovies.com, and MSNBC

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