April 16, 1889
He was born on April 16, 1889. His father was an alcoholic, his mother would be committed to a mental asylum. The young boy would spend his early years at a Workhouse and other institutions for destitute children.
At the age of 14, he decided to become an actor. He started doing plays and vaudeville. In 1914, he arrived in Los Angeles. He started working in film, accepting small parts.
For his second role, he decided to dress himself, wearing baggy pants, a tight coat, a small hat, and large shoes. For the final touch, he added a small mustache.
“The Tramp” character was born, eventually making Charlie Chaplin one of the most popular actors in silent film and an international star.
After Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to prominence, Charles Chaplin wanted to address the escalating violence and repression of Jews by the Nazis throughout the late 1930s.
He would make a daring film, his first true talking picture, which would become one of his greatest films – “The Great Dictator”.
It was an act of defiance against Hitler and Nazism. Chaplin played 2 characters, one a Hitler parody, and the other a look-alike Jewish barber persecuted by the regime. In the conclusion, the Jewish barber as Hitler would make a speech. It is said that during filming, Chaplin actually drops out of character and speaks his mind, denouncing dictatorship, greed, hate, and intolerance, in favor of liberty and human brotherhood. It would be called one of the greatest speeches:
“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible- Jew, Gentile, black men, white…
“We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
“Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind…
“We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity; more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness….”
In the speech, he urged people to unite, to “fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security . . . To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance!”