Everyone has their journey or many may call it a struggle to achieve what they have always dreamt of. The destination is seen by the world but the journey to the top is what makes the person achieve his or her goal and gets recognition in their respective fields. Struggle makes a person work hard each day to prove themselves to their selves as well as the world. All the people in the world dream to become a successful person, be it a poor kid or a rich kid. We all dream of something or other. Resources make our dreams come easier to us, but the people who don’t have enough resources are the one who values their whole journey and know how to handle hardships in life.

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977), popularly known as Charlie Chaplin who was known for his comedy in the era of silent films. His life and his journey to the movies was not at all easy. He makes all of us laugh to date but his early life was somewhat gloomy.

Charlie Chaplin was born to Hannah Chaplin and Charles Chaplin Sr. At the time of his birth, Charlie’s parents were both music hall entertainers. Hannah Chaplin had an unsuccessful career under the stage name of Lily Harley and Charles Sr. was a popular singer. Although they never got divorced, Chaplin’s parents were estranged by around 1891. Charlie Chapli’s early life was full of poverty and hardships.

Chaplin’s early years were spent with his mother and brother Sydney in London. Hannah had no means of income, other than occasional nursing and dressmaking and Charlie’s father didn’t provide any financial support to their family. As their situation didn’t get any better, Chaplin was sent to work at Lambeth Workhouse when he was just seven years old. The council housed him at the Central London District School of Paupers, which Chaplin remembered as “a forlorn existence”. He was briefly reunited with his mother at the age of 9 before Hannah was forced to readmit her family to the workhouse in July 1989. The boys were immediately sent to Norwood Schools, another charity institution.

After a few months, Hannah was sent to Cane Hill mental asylum as she had developed psychosis and infection of syphilis. For two months she was there, Chaplin and his brother were sent to live with their father, whom the young boy hardly knew. By then, Charles Chaplin Sr. was a severe alcoholic, and life with him was bad enough to provoke a visit from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Two years later, he died of liver cirrhosis at the age of 37. Hannah Chaplin entered a period of remission, but in 1903, she became ill again. Chaplin had the responsibility of taking his mother to the infirmary when Chaplin was only 14 years old.

He lived alone for a few days, searching for food and shelter until his brother Sydney returned from the navy. After eight months, Hannah returned from the asylum, but in March 1905 her madness returned permanently. She remained in care until she died in 1928.

Between his time in poor schools and his mother’s illness, Chaplin started to perform on stage. Through his mother’s encouragement at his young age, he grew an interest in performing. Through his father’s connections, he became a member of the Eight Lancashire Lads clog-dancing troupe, with whom he toured English music halls throughout 1899 and 1900. Chaplin worked hard and his act was popular with the audience. He was not satisfied with dancing and wished to form a comedy act. In the years when he was touring with Eight Lancashire Lads, his mother wanted him to continue schooling, but by the age of 13, he had already left education. He supported himself with a range of jobs, with the ambition of becoming an actor. At the age of 14, he registered with a theatrical agency in London’s West End. The manager saw potential in Chaplin and gave him his first role as a newsboy in Harry Arthur Sainsbury’s “Jim, a Romance of Cockayne”. It opened in July 1903, but the show was not a hit and got closed after two weeks. Chaplin’s performance, however, was praised by many of the reviews.  Saintsbury secured a role for Chaplin in Charles Frohman‘s production of Sherlock Holmes, where he played Billy the pageboy in three nationwide tours. His performance was so well received that he was called to London to play the role alongside William Gillette, the original Holmes. At the age of 16, Chaplin starred in the play’s West End production at the Duke of York’s Theatre from October to December 1905.  He completed one final tour of Sherlock Holmes in early 1906, before leaving the play after more than two-and-a-half years.

Chaplin immediately began to work in another role, touring with his brother who was also pursuing acting in a comedy sketch called Repairs. Chaplin left the troupe in 1906 and joined the vaudeville act Casey’s Court Circus. It was popular in the audiences and Charlie Chaplin became the star of the show. When they finished touring in July 1907, Chaplin was an accomplished comedian at the age of 18. After that, he had some hard times with no employment and a bad solo comedy act. He performed it only once. By 1908, Sydney Chaplin had become a star of Fred Karno’s prestigious comedy company. In February, he managed to secure a two-week trial for Chaplin. Karno was initially observant, thinking that Chaplin was a pale, puny, sullen-looking youngster who looked too shy to do any good in the theatre. But the teenager made an impact on his first night at the London Coliseum, winning more laughs in his small role than the star and he was quickly signed to a contract. Chaplin’s second American tour with the Karno company was not a success as some cast members fell sick. Within six months with Karno, Chaplin managed to receive a telegram from New York Picture Company. A member of the company felt that he could replace Fred Mace, an outgoing star of their Keystone Studios. Chaplin said that he had no idea about the character but when he got dressed up with the baggy pants, tight coat, small hat, and the mustache, he began to know him, and the time he went on the stage he was fully confident about the character. Chaplin adopted the character permanently and attempted to make suggestions for the films he appeared in. His ideas were dismissed by his directors. During the filming of his tenth picture, he clashed with director Mabel Normand and was almost released from his contract. Sennett kept him on his toes when a request arrived for more of Charlie films. With insurance of $1500 promised in case of his failure. Sennett also allowed Chaplin to direct his own film. He did not receive screen credit on the many comedies he made for Keystone in 1914-15, as it was studio policy not to credit its actors. Caught in the Rain (issued 4 May 1914), Chaplin’s first directed picture was among Keystone’s most successful releases. His first screen credit appeared on His New Job (1915), his first film for Essanay. He went on to create history in the field of cinema. Charlie Chaplin became the king of comedy. He had to go through great struggles in his initial stages of acting because of poverty and lack of support. He built his career independently. Without getting any formal training he achieved heights in the field of acting.

Lack of resources didn’t stop him from living his dream. He is truly an inspiration for all of us.


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