April 16, 2012 19:32 IST
Silent star Charlie Chaplin would have been 123 today. Best known for his role as The Tramp, Mr. Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in a series of silent films that commented on the politics, economy and social structure of the day through slapstick, mime and comedy.
Sir Charles Spencer 'Charlie' Chaplin was born in Britain in 1889 and moved to Hollywood in 1910 to forge a celluloid career.
He became one of the most influential artists of his time, with films such as The Kid, City Lights, Modern Times, The Gold Rush and The Great Dictator, his only 'talking' film.
In 1919 he founded United Artists with fellow stars Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith all of whom were seeking to escape the growing power consolidation of film distributors and financiers in Hollywood. In the McCarthy era, Charlie Chaplin was among the Hollywood stars suspected of communist and anti-American sympathies. In February 2012, an MI5 file on Mr. Chaplin was opened to the public which revealed that the FBI had contacted the British secret service to provide them with information which would enable them to ban Mr. Chaplin from the US.
He was a famous ladies' man, marrying four times. His fourth wife was Oona, daughter of American playwright Eugene O'Neill. Of his twelve children, daughter Geraldine is a well known and acclaimed actress in her own right.
Charlie Chaplin was made a Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1975. He was also given a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1970.
He received three Academy Awards in his lifetime: Best Original Score for the movie Limelight, and two Honorary Awards.
Charlie Chaplin died in his sleep in Switzerland on 25 December 1977 at the age of 88.