An actor and motion picture pioneer who made millions laugh, Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (1889-1977) was born in London.
He said, "Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot."
Raised in poverty, Chaplin chose vaudeville performing as a way to escape the harsh realities of the slum he lived in. "All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl," he once said.
In 1913, Chaplin joined Mack Sennett's Keystone Film Company, then won international fame with his portrayal of The Little Tramp (1915). The Tramp, with cane, derby hat, and baggy trousers, was a tragic, but memorable figure. Naively full of impossible aspirations, defiantly, he triumphed. With originality and carefully choreographed timing, he made people laugh.
Chaplin described his beloved mustachioed character as: "A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure."
By 1916, Chaplin was the highest paid actor of his time and earned an unheard of $10,000 per week. His 12 films between 1916 and 1918 included The Vagabond and The Pawnshop.
Chaplin said, "I remain just one thing, and one thing only--and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician."
In 1919, the disciplined actor founded the United Artists Corporation (UA) with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith. With a career of over 50 years, Chaplin was a perfectionist and genius at pantomime; a writer, director, composer, choreographer, and producer. His 81 films included the timeless classics City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936).
"You have to believe in yourself, that's the secret," he explained. "Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world."
More Film-Making Quotations
Laughter IS the surcease for pain.