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Charlie Chaplin’s London: The most unlikely Exiled Londoner

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Some may not be aware, the Hollywood silent movie star, Charlie Chaplin was born in London, on the 23rd September 1952 he travelled back to London from America to promote his new film “Limelight”. A film that some consider to be a semi autobiographical view of Chaplin‘s Edwardian London, touching on themes from his childhood and his transitioning relationship with America. The film also starred his own children.

Chaplin did all the usual tourist things on his trip, traveled to Waterloo bridge, and then on to see Big Ben with his wife and four children.

One-Way Ticket the exiled Charlie Chaplin

As Chaplin and his family left the USA for the London Premiere of the film, the American Attorney general revoked Chaplin’s re-entry to the USA pending an investigation into Chaplin’s behaviour and political views. Chaplin would never live in America again, selling his studio and property. Chaplin would eventually settle on living in Switzerland.

Chaplin’s London

Charlie Chaplin was born in Walworth London in 1889. His real name was Charles Spencer, growing up in the area of East Street. On the corner of this market and Walworth road, there is a plaque to mention him. His parents were music hall entertainers. He scraped by performing in the street for money. His father died when he was only 5 years old, his mother had health problems. They sent him to an orphanage. In his teens, he worked for performing companies doing comic and acting roles. He developed a tramp character and could draw upon his personal experiences of hardship and poverty. He lived in Brixton at one point flat 15 Glenshaw Mansions, Brixton Road, SW9 0DS. 1908-1910

Chaplin emigrated to America

He went to America to perform and soon to produce and direct in the era of silent filmmaking. He could direct, produce, write, edit, create the music and starred in most of his films. Before the roaring twenties, he co-founded the distribution company “United Artists”. Just after WW1 time, 1918 Chaplin was at the height of popularity.

Chaplin’s life under the media spotlight

He became entangled with women and 4 marriages in his lifetime, to women as young as 16 and his age difference to theirs creating a large gap. He then became open to public opinion and scandal.   Further to this, Chaplin was then associated with controversial political views and was eventually forced to leave the USA. He lived then in Switzerland. Historically his films most celebrated are, “The Kid” 1921, “A Woman of Paris” 1923, ”The Gold Rush” 1925, “The Circus” 1928 “City Lights” 1931 to name but a few. They had nominated him for a few awards circa 1929 which were changed at the last minute and they instead gave him a “Special Award”.

In 1972 he was awarded an Honorary  Academy Award, approx a year later the Music for Limelight also gained an award.

Charlie Chaplin Statue Leicester Square

Charlie Chaplin Statue Leicester Square

In 1975 Charlie became Sir Charles Chaplin, as he was given a Knighthood.

25th of December 1977 Charlie Chaplin passed away Switzerland.

Where is Walworth in London

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