The famous English comedian whose silent movies made the entire world laugh lived
for over 25 years in Switzerland. Born in the Kennington district
of London in 1889, Charlie Chaplin was raised in poverty by an alcoholic actor
father and a singer mother who was in and out of asylums. Chaplin began his career
in show business as a singer at the age of 5, and in 1906 he worked as a pantomime
in several show troops traveling throughout Europe and America. In 1913, during
a tour in the American music halls, the young Chaplin was hired as an actor by
the Keystone film production company.
Charlie Chaplin's acting talent and genius for comic miming soon brought him
to stardom. He made film after film, some of which have become silent movie
classics, such as The
Great Dictator, Modern
Times or The
But Chaplin's success did not please everyone. Despite his immense popularity
with the general public, he was under close watch by the justice for his leftist
political activities. The witch hunt climate of postwar America, aggravated
by the political putsch organized by Stalin's agents in several Central European
countries, rendered any liberal political beliefs suspect and anti-American
in the eyes of the Republican government.
In 1952, Chaplin and his family went to London to promote his new film, Limelight.
The anti-Communist commission headed by Senator Joseph
McCarthy jumped at the opportunity to cancel Chaplin's visa and forbade
him from returning to American soil. Protest as he might, the actor's visa was
not reissued and the Chaplin family began their search for a land of asylum.
The Chaplin family chose Switzerland and settled into Lausanne's Beau-Rivage hotel in 1953. Then they moved to the Manoir de Ban, a large property
in Corsier, north of Vevey,
with orchards and a large terrace with magnificent trees framing the view of
the mountains and the lake in the distance.
The Chaplin family made friends in the area, particularly Victoria Eugenie,
the Queen of Spain in exile. From his Corsier residence, Charlie Chaplin
sometimes traveled to London or Paris. He continued to work and made A
King in New York, for example,in 1956. The quarter of
a century he spent in Switzerland saw the birth of four of his 10 children.
They were all born in the Mont-Choisi clinic, in Lausanne.
His last child, Christopher, was born when Charlie Chaplin was 73 years old.
It was at his Corsier residence that Chaplin ended his autobiography with these
words: I sometimes sit out on our terrace at sunset and look out over a vast
green lawn to the lake in
the distance, and beyond the lake to the reassuring mountains, and in this mood
think of nothing but enjoy their magnificent serenity. Charlie Chaplin passed
away in Vevey, and now rests with
his wife in the Corsier sur Vevey cemetery.
Today there is a square named in his honor and a statue erected to his effigy
on the shores of Lake Geneva,
The film Chaplin recounts the life and times of Charlie Chaplin and a box-set reunites all of his greatest films.
Order now some of the best films of Charlie Chaplin:
|Charlie Chaplin Boxed Set|
|Four of Charlie Chaplin's greatest films: The Gold Rush.(1925, 71 min.), City Lights (1931, 87 min.), Modern Times (1936, 103 min.) and The Great Dictator (1940, 125 min.).||DVD|
|The Kid / A Dog's Life|
|The Kid (1921, 68 min.) was director Charlie Chaplin's first full-length film and is considered one of his best.||DVD|
|Certainly, Charlie Chaplin at the highest point of his career in 1952.||DVD|
|The Gold Rush is one of Chaplin's simplest, loveliest features, and despite its high comedy, it never strays far from Chaplin's keen grasp of loneliness. ||DVD|
|The Little Tramp brings his slapstick hijinks to the big top. Charlie Chaplin's film "The Circus" begins in a fading circus, where the equestrienne (Merna Kennedy) can't jump the hoops and the clowns can't make the audience laugh. Outside on the midway, The Little Tramp falls into a series of wonderful comic routines that end when, pursued by a cop, he bursts into the tent's center ring and wows the audience.||DVD|
|The Great Dictator|
|The Great Dictator, conceived in the late thirties but not released until 1940, when Hitler's war was raging across Europe, is the film that skewered the tyrant.||DVD|
|Charlie Chaplin is in glorious form in this legendary satire of the mechanized world. ||DVD|