||Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, Jr. KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977), better known as Charlie Chaplin, was an English comedy actor, becoming one of the most famous performers in the early to mid Hollywood cinema era, and also a notable director. He is considered to be one of the finest mimes and clowns caught on film and his influence on performers in both fields is great.
Chaplin was one of the most creative and influential personalities in the silent film era: he acted in, directed, scripted, produced and eventually even scored his own films. His working life in entertainment spanned over 65 years, from the Victorian stage and music hall in England as a child performer, almost until his death at the age of 88. He led one of the most remarkable and colourful lives of the 20th century, from a Dickensian London childhood to the pinnacle of world fame in the film industry and as a cultural icon.
His principal character was "The Tramp" (known as "Charlot" in France, Italy and Spain): a vagrant with the refined manners and dignity of a gentleman who wears a tight coat, oversized trousers and shoes, a bowler hat, carries a bamboo cane, and has a signature toothbrush moustache. Chaplin's high-profile public and private life encompassed highs and lows of both adulation and controversy.
Charlie Chaplin was born on the 16th April 1889 in East Street, Walworth, London. His parents, both entertainers in the Music Hall tradition, separated before he was three. The 1891 census shows his mother, Hannah, living with Charlie and his older brother in Barlow Street, Walworth. As a child he lived with his mother, who was of Roma ancestry, in various addresses in and around Kennington Road in Lambeth. His father, Charles Chaplin Senior, an alcoholic, had little contact with his son, though Chaplin and his brother briefly lived with him and his mistress at 287 Kennington Road (which address is now ornamented with a plaque commemorating Chaplin's residence here) when his mother was ill. Chaplin's father died when Charlie was twelve, leaving him and his older half-brother, Sydney Chaplin, in the sole care of his mother. Hannah Chaplin suffered from schizophrenia, and was eventually admitted to the Cane Hill Asylum at Coulsdon. Chaplin had to be left in the workhouse at Lambeth, London, moving after several weeks to the Central London District School for paupers in Hanwell. The young Chaplin brothers forged a close relationship to survive. They gravitated to the Music Hall while still very young, and both proved to have considerable natural stage talent.
Unknown to Charlie and Sydney until years later, they had a half-brother through their mother, Wheeler Dryden, who was raised abroad by his father. He was later reconciled with the family, and worked for Chaplin at his Hollywood studio. Chaplin's mother died in 1928 in Hollywood, seven years after being brought to the U.S. by her sons.