“I am for people. I can’t help it.”
Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, born April 16, 1889, was the most famous film star in the world before the end of WWI and one of the most influential personalities of the silent-film era. Most remember him by his celebrated role as the tramp. Less well-known were his talents as a film director, writer and composer. In 1919, he co-founded United Artists along with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith. His left-wing politics drew the ire and condemnation of Senator McCarthy which brought about his forced relocation to Europe in 1952.
Charlie Chaplin’s goodwill to all came in the form of humour. He used mime, slapstick and visual comedy routines to bring joy and laughter into a world torn apart by war and economic woes. Hardship and poverty were Charlie Chaplin’s constant companions during childhood. He said in later years, “I was hardly aware of a crisis because we lived in a continual crisis, and, being a boy, I dismissed our troubles with gracious forgetfulness.” These words signified his resilience and spirit of determination. His young journey was not for the fainthearted.
At the tender age of seven, Charlie Chaplin was sent to a workhouse and was housed at the Central London District School for paupers. When he was nine, his mother, who had developed a psychosis from what appeared to be malnutrition and a syphilis infection, was committed to a mental asylum. He lived for a time with his alcoholic father, whose abusive behaviour generated a visit from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. And yet through this adversity, he chose to embrace life, to look for ways to bring pleasure in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Charlie Chaplin reached other to others and gave the precious gift of goodwill to all.