A silent comedy star whose legendary slapstick routines are recognisable to this day, Charles 'Charlie' Chaplin's My Autobiography is an incomparably vivid account of the life of one of the greatest filmmakers and comedians, with an introduction by David Robinson As a child, Charlie Chaplin was awed and inspired by the sight of glamorous vaudeville stars passing his home, and from then on he never lost his ambition to become an actor. Chaplin's film career as the Little Tramp adored by the whole world is the stuff of legend, but this frank autobiography shows another side. Born into a theatrical family, Chaplin's father died of drink while his mother, unable to bear the poverty, suffered from bouts of insanity. From a childhood of grinding poverty in the south London slums, Chaplin found an escape in his early debut on the music hall stage, followed by his lucky break in America, the founding of United Artists with D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks, the struggle to maintain artistic control over his work, the string of failed marriages, and his eventual exile from Hollywood after personal scandals and persecution for his left-wing politics during the McCarthy Era.
Sir Charles 'Charlie' Chaplin (1895-1976) was born in Walworth, London. Best known for his work in silent film, his most famous role was The Little Tramp, a universally recognisable and iconic character who appeared in films such as The Kid (1921), The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights (1931). His other films include Modern Times (1936), a commentary on the Great Depression, and The Great Dictator (1940), a satirical attack on Hitler and the Nazis. If you enjoyed My Autobiography, you might like Andy Warhol's The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'Tells so much about this curious, difficult man ...a wonderfully vivid imagination' The New York Times 'The only genius to come out of the movie industry' George Bernard Shaw
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(198mm x 129mm x 23mm)
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
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UK Kirkus Review »
First published in 1964, this autobiography is a welcome addition to the Penguin list of modern classics. In his introduction David Robinson tells how Chaplin was accused of using a ghost writer but explains that no one but the actor could have written so vivid and idiosyncratic account of his life. An autodidact, Chaplin is said to have learned a new word each day and here he is lavish with his newly acquired vocabulary. He talks of the 'pulchritudinous influence' of Mabel Normand and other women on the 'he-man' atmosphere of the studio and of the 'quidnuncs and quasi-promoters' to be found in the Alexandria Hotel in Los Angeles. His was an extraordinary life. Born in the East End of London, Chaplin and his half-brother Sydney wanted to pursue a stage career. Both their mother and Chaplin's father had been in vaudeville and both boys were to succeed in their ambition. The odds against them doing so were incredible for their mother became insane and Chaplin's father died, an alcoholic, in his 30s. Several times they were taken to the workhouse with all that that meant in terms of deprivation and humiliation, separated not just from each other but from their mother. Chaplin describes these times without once hinting at any self-pity but furnishes details of pennies obtained from the pawn shop, clothes fashioned from rags and the humiliation of never being sure of having the rent or enough to eat. It is almost certain that malnutrition caused his mother's breakdown. And then comes the rise to riches and fame. Small parts on the stage begin to earn the boy a reputation as a good comedian. He is taken to America with a touring company and, finally, joins the studio where the Keystone Cops films are being churned out. The passages where he describes how the character of the little tramp evolved and how he used his knowledge of stagecraft to improve the quality of the early films are fascinating, as is his account of his immense popularity. When political intrigue put an end to these happy days in America Chaplin was married to Oona. Together they made a new life in Europe and it is to her that he dedicated this extraordinary book. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Charlie Chaplin
CHARLES CHAPLIN [1889-1977] was one of the greatest of all filmmakers and comedians. DAVID ROBINSON is the author of CHAPLIN: HIS LIFE AND ART (also published by Penguin)