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Charlie Chaplin

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What a little tramp! Charlie Chaplin, who brought laughter to millions worldwide as the

silent "Little Tramp" clown. Born in East Street, Walworth, London on 16 April, 1889, Charles

Spencer Chaplin was the son of a music hall singer and his wife. Charlie Chaplin's parents

divorced early in his life, with his father providing little to no support, either financial or

otherwise, leaving his mother to support them as best she could. Chaplin's mother Hannah was the

brightest spot in Charlie's childhood; formerly an actress on stage, she had lost her ability to

perform, and managed to earn a subsistence living for herself, Charlie, and Charlie's older

half-brother Sidney by sewing. She was an integral part of Charlie's young life, and he credited her

with much of his success. Sadly, she slowly succumbed to mental illness, and by the time that

Charlie was 7 years old, she was confined to an asylum; Charlie and Sidney were relegated to a

workhouse (a government facility for orphaned and abandoned children).

Furthermore, The Great Dictator was Charlie Chaplin's first truly talking picture, and

when it was finally released in 1940, it was a worldwide sensation. In the same year that Charlie

Chaplin began working on The Great Dictator, the House Un-American Committee begins

investigating Charlie. At first glance, there seems to be no reason for this -- until the second

glance. Earlier Chaplin had done his patriotic part in raising money for the war effort, alongside

his long time friends Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford - raising large amounts of money for

the war. Charlie was a lifelong pacifist, but he was also a realist who saw that the aggression of

the Axis powers had to be stopped. In many ways, Chaplin was politically naive -- such as

speaking at fund raisers for the Communist USSR, whom Chaplin simply saw as our allies in the fight. And by suggesting that America immediately open a two front war to help our "friends" in

the Soviet Union. These were some of the reasons that the government began keeping tabs on the

immigrant film maker. Although he worked for all of these years in America, he maintained his

British citizenship, and had no intention of becoming an American citizen.

Moreover, due to the false rumors that Chaplin was a communist or communist

sympathizer, as well as an organized protest by various unions resulting in theaters refusing to

show his films. Charlie took a vacation to England, wanting to show his new wife and children

his native country. Upon leaving the territorial waters of the United States of America, Charlie

Chaplin received a cable, informing him that the State Department had rescinded his reentry

permit -- effectively locking him out of the country as an undesirable alien. There were many

reasons for this -- Chaplin's unorthodox political views, the false accusation that he was a

Communist, and not least of all, money. There would have been an attempt by the federal

government to seize Chaplin's assets, which were enormous. However, his wife Oona returned to

the United States, and promptly took all of the liquid assets, as well as liquidating everything she

could -- leaving the government without a penny for its' trouble.

However, Chaplin's professional pace seemed to be slowing down, to an outside observer.

After all, he was now 69 years old.

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