The phenomenon of Chaplin's mythical status not only in film, but in world cultural history. This lecture will trace the creation of the myth to Chaplin's British origins; as a child of the poorest streets of Victorian London and as an alumnus of the British music hall at its zenith.
(born April 16, 1889, London, Eng.died Dec. 25, 1977, Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switz.) British-U.S. actor and director. The son of poverty-stricken music-hall entertainers, he became a vaudeville performer at age eight. On tour in New York (1913), he caught the eye of Mack Sennett, who signed him to a film contract. While making his second film, Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914), Chaplin developed the costumebaggy pants, derby hat, oversized shoes, and canethat was to become the hallmark of his famous little tramp character. He was soon directing his own films, and he became an instant star in The Tramp (1915). After cofounding United Artists in 1919, he produced, directed, and starred in such classics as The Gold Rush (1925), City Lights (1931), Modern Times (1936), The Great Dictator (1940), Monsieur Verdoux (1947), and Limelight (1952). Harassed for his leftist political views, he moved to Switzerland in 1952. In 1972 he returned to the U.S. to accept a special Academy Award.