A coat too small and ill fitting, loose trousers, large shoes, a derby hat, a cane and a ridiculous moustache plus loads and loads of sheer genius - all these add upto just one name, Charlie Chaplin. Essaying the title role of 'the little tramp' in innumerable films, Chaplin created an immortal character in the world of on-screen humour.
Charlie Spencer Chaplin was born in London on the 16th of April, 1889. Both his parents were small time actors and singers, and little Charlie gravitated to the stage at a very young age and showed a natural talent to act, mime and sing.
He toured the United States as a part of a famous stage troupe where he was spotted by the producers of Keystone Film Company and was cast in a film. Unfortunately, Charlie's first film was a disaster. Luckily, he was given a second chance in the movie 'Kid Auto Races at Venice' in year 1914. It was for this movie that Charlie Chaplin put together the character of the little tramp, which proved to be an instant success. He developed this foolish, mischievous yet lovable little man whose popularity continues to amuse audiences till date. Appearing in successive films as the little tramp, Chaplin managed to evoke both laughter and sympathy at the same time. His movies were a great success and by 1917 he was making over half a million dollars for eight pictures, a fabulous sum in those days! His silent movies were a hit with all sections of society.
Chaplin's tramp appeared in many classic silent films like 'The Kid’ (1921) and ‘The Gold Rush' (1925). By now talkies had replaced the silent movies but Chaplin preferred making silent movies as he firmly believed that acting was better understood by audiences, than words or dialogues. 'City Lights' released in 1931 was the first film to feature a music score composed by Chaplin himself. In 'Modern Times' he combined comedy with social commentary and fine technical craftsmanship. As World War II began, Chaplin made 'The Great Dictator' (1940), which was intended to ridicule the German dictator, Adolf Hitler.
Though his films were huge successes, his political views and left leanings were not appreciated in the United States. In 1952 he decided to shift base to Vevey in Switzerland where he stayed till his death in 1977. And the little tramp continues to enthrall audiences all over the world even decades after his death- a truly astounding feat!