Our two headliners today were photographed together in 1965 when Chaplin was honored with the Erasmus Prize.
Sir Charles Chaplin (1889-1977) was one of the most influential filmmakers ever. He grew up in poverty in England and with a father who died when he was about eleven, and a mother who had to be committed to an insane asylum, he had to largely support himself beginning in his early teens. Fortunately, his natural talent for acting quickly became apparent and he was able to find work with a variety of theater groups. In 1910, theater impresario Fred Karno selected Chaplin as part of a troupe that went on an American tour that lasted nearly 2 years. By 1913, Chaplin had been invited to join an American film company, and relocated to the US.
Chaplin soon developed his most famous screen persona, the Little Tramp, a somewhat bumbling but good-hearted man, frequently a vagrant, who struggles against adversity with varying degrees of success. The Tramp featured in dozens of short films beginning in 1914. In 1919, Chaplin was one of the co-founders of United Artists, and soon began making the string of silent features that are his biggest claim to fame. The Little Tramp was featured in most of them—The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, etc.