Char­lie Chap­lin

Rags to riches

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - WORKHOUSE CHILDREN -

Chap­lin was born in 1889 in South Lon­don. His par­ents were mu­sic hall en­ter­tain­ers, but his fa­ther aban­doned the fam­ily when Chap­lin was two, leav­ing his mother, Han­nah, in great fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty. She con­tin­ued to sing un­til dur­ing one per­for­mance her voice fi­nally gave out, and Chap­llin at the age of five took over from her. It hap­pened just once but Han­nah en­cour­aged him; as he re­called, she “im­bued me with the feel­ing I had some sort of tal­ent.” She suc­cumbed to men­tal health prob­lems and Chap­lin and his brother Syd­ney were put into a workhouse in Han­well. After­wards they went to live with their fa­ther who helped Chap­lin find work with a clog-danc­ing troupe when he was only ten; this was the first step in his ca­reer as a per­former. His brother, too, was carv­ing out a stage care eer and be­came a pop­u­lar per rformer in the Fred Karno comp pany, where he got Cha aplin a job in 1908. They tou red Amer­ica twice andd Chap­lin be­came so suc­cessf ful that he was of­fered wor k at the Key­stone Stu­dio os in Los An­ge­les. Alth ough he wasn’t keen ono the Key­stone coome­dies’ “rough and d tum­ble”, he liked the idea ofo go­ing into the movies.m While he was at the Stu­dio s, he de­vel­oped a slower type of come edy. He cre­ated a char­ac­ter byy choos­ing th e clothes first: “I wan nted ev­ery­thing tto be a con­tra­dic­tio on: the pants bagg gy, the coat tight, thet hat small a nd the shoes large e…” And so ‘th he Tramp’ was born, the alter ego that ma­dem him famou us.

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