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Date of Birth 16-04-1989
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Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in London on April 16, 1889, the son of two music hall entertainers. Charlie and his elder half brother Sydney were raised in a broken household by their mother, whose mental stability was aggravated by poverty and deprivation. When his mother was committed to an infirmary, seven-year-old Charlie was sent to a workhouse outside of London, and suffered from the loneliness of a Dickensian childhood. He dreamed of freedom and wealth, and discovered the performing arts as a vehicle for his ambitions.

Chaplins Theatre Days

Chaplin attracted the attention of the manager of a traveling music hall troupe and became one of The Eight Lancashire Lads. With his mother recently committed to asylum, young Chaplin depended on making his own living or faced returning to the orphanage. Augmenting his income with odd jobs, he gained a reputation and assumed leading stage roles at age twelve. Together with Sydney, who also pursued a stage career, Charlie joined the legendary comedy troupe of Fred Karno, a former music hall acrobat who became one of Charlie Chaplins important mentors. He debuted with Karno on February 3, 1908 at age seventeen, and quickly rose to prominence as a principle in the cast. In 1910 Karno selected Chaplin as one of the leading comics to accompany the troupe on a touring engagement of America leaving for the States in September.

The knockabout comedy of the Karno Speechless Comedians, combining satire with pantomime, was successful in the United States where vaudeville was then the staple of American entertainment. Precise and thoroughly rehearsed, the Karno routines provided Chaplin with his comedy apprenticeship. Several conspicuous examples from Chaplins Karno days invaded his later motion picture work. The roller skating performed with balletic control in The Rink (1916) was perfected in a Karno sketch Skating, as was his highly original portrayal of an intoxicated man about town in Karnos Mumming Birds, incorporated into several later films including One A.M. (1916) and The Cure (1917). His captivating portrayal of the drunkard brought public acclaim, and also provided Chaplin with his entry to the movies with Mack Sennett and the

Documentary evidence suggests that Chaplins entrepreneurial instincts turned his interest to film production years before his film debut at Keystone. Alf Reeves, manager of the Karno tour in America, listened to Charlie throughout the extended tour as he spoke of his desire to enter the movie business. In 1910 Chaplin proposed a partnership with Reeves. With their finances combined, Chaplin devised a plan to purchase a motion picture camera, photograph the comedy troupe during rehearsals, and then market the film. The visual comedy of the troupe seemed a natural for the silent film, with scenery consisting of already existing stage sets. The breakneck touring schedule of the troupe precluded Chaplins plans, however his interest in film continued to evolve. Reeves association with Chaplin became lifelong. He later served as manager of the Chaplin film studio, and played a key role in helping to establish the company independently.

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