Monday, 16 April 2012
From 'The Tramp to Sir Charlie Chaplin'.. born on this day in1889.. Brief introduction!
Wow, that sounds like forever ago and yet photographer Frazer Ashford told us recently that he had taken a photograph of Charlie Chaplin back in the day, so maybe time is a master of disguise! We are just taking a brief look at Charlie because there is a wealth of information available about his life.
Charlie, 'Charles Spencer Chaplin' was Charlie's real name and definitely well suited to his role in life as it suggests a certain playfulness combined with comedy & intrigue. Like many of the worlds most gifted people, Charlie did not have an easy life having half brothers and a chronically alcoholic father and mentally ill mother which ultimately resulted in Charlie and his brother being brought up in an workhouses and charity institutions. I remember reading somewhere that the boys enjoyed dancing and put it to good use, busking at a very young age on the streets of London where a hat made its first appearance as a receptacle for pennies!
Life turned around a little when Charlie and his brother Sydney were taken on by a children's dance troupe and aged 17 Charlie began to excel, being trained in the art of comedy by Fred Karno's company with whom he toured the States on more than one occasion.
When it comes to branding, Charlie Chaplin created the perfect image for himself which is recognized world wide and there have been several statues erected in the UK and even Hollywood! Charlie The Tramp appeared whilst he was working for the Keystone company and was the gateway to his career, enabling him to move on to different companies where he commanded a considerable fee for his services and made many films.
Charlie was a master of the art of silent films with his incredible talent which incorporated all the most loved styles of comedy including visual, mime and slapstick. Charlie entered the era of soundtracks and gave one of the greatest 'silver screen' speeches of all time in his film 'The Great Dictator' According to Wikipedia... “In his 1964 autobiography, Chaplin stated that he would not have been able to make such jokes about the Nazi regime had the extent of the Nazi horrors been known, particularly the death camps and the Holocaust. While Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 To Be or Not To Be dealt with similar themes (even including another mistaken-identity Hitler figure), after the scope of Nazi atrocities became apparent it took nearly twenty years before any other films dared to satirize the era.”... I will see if I can post this speech for you!
Charlie was also very smart being a co-founder of United Artists which gave him the freedom to be independent. He was also a film maker and director. Charlie was an extremely interesting person and you would be well advised to research further and dig a little deeper into this complex character we have come to love!