The music is "Eternally" from the movie Limelight (1952).

The Tramp The Tramp



Feltham once said, "Laughter should dimple the cheek, not furrow the brow." Charlie Chaplin was a man who definitely dimpled millions of cheeks in the early 1900's. He had a huge impact on the lives of Americans during the world wars and the hard times of the Depression and he made people laugh for the first time in a long time and changed the way they looked at the world despite his own troubles. And even though his films were in black and white, he put a lot of color into everyone's life.

Charlie Chaplin was born on April 15, 1889, in London, England to Charles Chaplin, Sr., and Hannah Hill. He was taught to sing before he could talk and danced just as soon as he could walk. At a very young age Chaplin was told that he would be the most famous person in the world. From then on it was a personal goal for little Charlie. And he would do anything to reach his goal. When Charlie was five years old he sang for his mother on stage after she became ill and taken hoarse. Everyone in the audience loved him and hurled their money onto the stage. When Chaplin was eight, he appeared in a clog dancing act called "Eight Lancashire Lads". Once again he was loved by the audience and he was excited with the attention he received. Charlie's half-brother, Sidney, acted as his agent and when Charlie was ten years old, Sidney got Chaplin an engagement at the London Hippodrome. Within a few years Charlie was one of the most popular child actors in England.

Charlie was twelve when his father died on May 9th, 1901. He died in St. Thomas Hospital in London of alcoholism. He was thirty-seven. After the death of her husband, Charlie's mother, became a chronically psychotic woman who was in and out of mental institutions. Charlie and Sidney, were placed in a charity home after their mother's mental health plummeted.

Chaplin attended 2 years of school at Hern Boy's College. This was the only formal education that he ever received. Charlie was at school when his mother suffered a mental breakdown and was taken away to an institution. Completely alone, Charlie lived on the streets.

When she was well enough, his mother took the children back and supported them by sewing. Between his twelfth and his fourteenth birthdays, Charlie's places of employment included a barbershop (where he absorbed the techniques that the Jewish barber would display in The Great Dictator), a stationery store, a doctor's office, a glass factory, Chandler's shop, and a printing plant.

From 1903 to 1906, Charlie performed in "Sherlock Holmes" as the paperboy, Billy. After his time with "Sherlock Holmes", Charlie joined "The Casey Circus" in 1906 as a mime. He remained there for a year. As a gawky adolescent whose voice was changing, Charlie found that he could not remain a child actor in the legitimate theater and was forced back into Vaudeville where he discovered the gift for comic pantomime. After remaining in Vaudeville for a few years, Charlie, not quite twenty, came to the United States as a top comedian. There he started his career as the most famous person that ever lived.

In 1907, Chaplin joined the Karno Pantomime Troupe. He made his first tour of the United States and Canada in 1910 with the Karno Troupe. He stayed with the Karno Troupe until 1913. In May of 1913, Charlie signed a contract with Adam Kessel, who had an interest in the Keystone Film Company, for $125 per week. On December 29, 1913, Chaplin signed with Keystone Films for $150 a week. In January of 1914, Chaplin made his first feature film, Making A Living. Charlie remained with Keystone Films all through 1914 until November when he signed a contract with Essanay Films for $1,250 a week to make 14 films during the year of 1915. In the spring of 1915, Chaplin made his first appearance as the "tramp" character in The Tramp. The film was a bittersweet comedy with a signature ending in which - plucky and resilient after losing in love - this homeless comic hero waddles down life's highway, desolate and utterly alone. His character, the Tramp, was a short, twitchy man with a black mustache, baggy suit and a waddling penguin-like walk. A biographer, Theodore Huff, believed Chaplin's costume for the Tramp character personified shabby gentility - the fallen aristocrat at grips with poverty. He said the cane was a symbol of attempted dignity. And he thought his mustache was a sign of vanity. Within two years of his first appearance in motion pictures, in 1914, he had become one of the best known personalities in the nation .

Main Page | Bio Page 2 | Bio Page 3 |

  [This biography is reprinted. Credit:   Chaplin - An Essay by Aaron Hale]

For more information on the life and times of Charlie, please refer to My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin Simon and Schuster 1964, Chaplin: His Life and Art by David Robinson McGraw-Hill 1989, and Remembering Charlie by Jerry Epstein Doubleday 1989.

  [Credit:   Chaplin Film Locations Then & Now

The Films

Many Charlies

Although The Little Tramp is his most enduring and recognizable character, Charlie Chaplin appeared in over 100 major motion pictures. In most of them he wrote, directed and starred. Nearly all of them are inspiring achievements in the cinematic art form and and remain timeless and vital in hundreds of languages.

Films such as The Kid, City Lights, The Gold Rush, The Tramp and Modern Times enjoy legendary reverence and have inspiried countless filmakers over the decades, while The Great Dictator remains a stunningly insightful political statement for the time.

Many of his characters and images have throughout the 20th century achieved mythical status, ascending to the level of cultural icon. The Little Tramp is the most prolific of these, instantly recognizable literally anywhere in the world. Names like Fatty Arbuckle, Edna Purviance, Paulette Goddard, Mabel Normand and Jackie "Uncle Fester" Coogan, regardless of later events in their careers and lives, all remain a part of the Chaplin legend that sill permeates our society.

Just take a look at the caliber of the films, the co-stars and the phenomenal time span that make up the amazing Charlie Chaplin filmography.

View the gallery of  Film Posters and Photos.

Animated Tramp Animated Tramp Animated Tramp Animated Tramp Animated Tramp Animated Tramp Animated Tramp

Other Opinions

"Charlie Chaplin, the only genius in motion pictures"
- George Bernard Shaw   [Credit: The Chaplin Society)

Chaplin: The Artistic Tramp is a beautifully written and completely enjoyable biography/tribute page. This page is without doubt a must read for the Chaplin fan or for anyone who can appreciate the life of a truly extraordinary human being. Two thumbs up!

Roger Ebert -- "City Lights" Review of one of Chaplin's best films, comparing The Tramp to Keaton's characters and the cyclical nature of their popularity."   [Credit: Bryce Westover)

Charlie Chaplin - beloved Little Tramp - cultural icon - THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY?
J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI though so. Here are 2063 pages of The Charlie Chaplin FBI File as well as a guide on how to read and interpret FBI files and analysis of the files.

Chaplin placed third on TIME Magazine's list of the The Most Influential People of the 20th Century in the Artists and Entertainers category.

The Motor City Chaplin Preservation Society is a brilliant site devoted to preserving and promoting the works of the greatest comic innovator of the 20th century. Chock full of essays, video clips, sound bytes, photos and more. Great stuff!

Charlie Chaplin UK presents a wonderful "archive of articles written about Chaplin and his world."

The new and vintage books, photos, figures, postcards, pins and films available at JerRe Silent Movie Collectibles is a testament to the impact Chaplin continues to have on our culture."

"Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot."
- Charlie Chaplin   [Credit:

"Charlie Chaplin entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike competition in Monte Carlo.
He came in third."

- Charlie Chaplin Anecdote   [Credit:

Shining Moments

Modern Times (1936)
Many consider the groundbreaking Modern Times (1936)
to be a Chaplin masterpiece.

Academy Awards® 1972
In 1972, Chaplin receives an honorary Oscar®
for his lifetime of contributions and achievements.

The Gold Rush (1925)
The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush (1925)
The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush (1925)
The Gold Rush (1925)
The Gold Rush is generally regarded as Chaplin's best film.
This film has at times been voted "The Best Comedy of All Time" by international film critics polls.

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin
(1889 - 1977)


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This page was last updated on May 1, 2001 by Michael S. Sigler -- HS114, Section 33530