Charlie Chaplin was mentally ill

Charlie Chaplin was a sadistic bully who was into teenagers

You know his face, but you know his films less - Charlie Chaplin would have recently celebrated his 127th birthday. Although the British film icon's birth certificate could never be found, it is commonly believed that he was born on April 16, 1889. While celebrity birthdays are actually completely irrelevant, many people like to note that the popular actor was born just four days before another well-known person with a toothbrush beard: Adolf Hitler. While Chaplin's facial hair is usually associated with his situational comedy, the two are often compared — and not just because the "tyrannical director" targeted the tyrannical dictator in his 1940 film.

Charlie Chaplin was born in south London to a lazy father and a mentally ill mother. He grew up in poverty as a paradigm for the typical American story of the dishwasher who eventually became a millionaire. Little Chaplin spent his childhood performing as a tap dancer in front of and in poor houses or with relatives. He was later instructed in visual comedy by British comedian legend Fred Karno. This marked the rise of Chaplin - as Peter Ackroyd writes in the 2014 biography Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life - until he was "the most famous man in the world" at the age of 26 the respect and admiration that Chaplin received regardless of his height (1.65 meters) enabled the actor to sleep with around 2,000 women during his life, according to his own estimates.

Even if this very high number is on the one hand nothing to brag about, it is not insignificant - after all, it was precisely these women and some of the children who emerged from these relationships that made Chaplin's egocentricity, dominance and cruelty most have felt the strongest. It seemed as if the "Chaplinitis" or "Chaplinoia" went to his head as quickly as the audience succumbed to it. One of the first women Ackroyd said was Edna Purviance, a 19-year-old actress whom Chaplin hired after responding to an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle ("We are looking for the most beautiful girl in California for a role in a movie."). The two quickly became more than just colleagues, but Chaplin's love for his job far exceeded that for his girlfriend. he shouldn't even have given her notice.

Chaplin made his next conquest at a time when he regularly performed a number at parties in which he "mimicked what the hottest actresses could look like when they orgasm," wrote Ackroyd. Hollywood star Mildred Harris was 16 even younger than her predecessor and soon informed Chaplin that she was pregnant by him. Fearing both family responsibilities and scandal, Chaplin arranged the wedding, which took place in October 1918. As it turned out, the pregnancy was false alarm - or faked. In any case, Chaplin is said to have regretted his decision shortly afterwards: he felt cheated by his wife and generally didn't care much for her. In his eyes she was a bad actress and "not a great light". He was abrupt and moody with her and often stayed away for days without telling her where he was. After she actually became pregnant by him, she suffered a nervous breakdown due to his poor treatment.

In 1920, the same year Chaplin and Harris went through a terrible divorce, he met a 12-year-old girl who was to become his next wife: Lillita MacMurray, who later went by the stage name Lita Gray. Although Chaplin adored Gray (he even commissioned a portrait of her), he held back until she was a more appropriate age and a small role in the 1924 film at the age of 16 Gold rush played. She became pregnant and Chaplin secretly married her in November 1924 — this time for fear of criminal charges. He had two children before the two divorced in 1927, after several affairs and the failure of Grey's career.

Chaplin in "A Dog's Life" (1918). Photo: Loeba | Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain

The marriage that followed was outwardly the healthiest: in 1932 he began dating the 22-year-old actress Paulette Goddard, with whom he also had a friendly professional relationship until 1942 (they probably got married, but nobody knows for sure ). The main film the two worked on was the controversial film The great dictator from 1940. After that, however, their relationship worsened: When Goddard found out that Chaplin had died, she replied, "So what?" and hung up.

The great dictator became Chaplin's most important and best-known film. He is often viewed as a direct satire on the eponymous dictator, whose portrayal was additionally supported by Chaplin's identical mustache. Keep in mind, however, that Chaplin didn't grow that mustache for the role, but spent most of his career with it. On the one hand, the dictator is parodied in the film as a nonsensical, wildly gesticulating adenoid Hynkel, on the other hand, the film is also disturbingly sensitive in a certain way. Hitler himself had the film shown twice during his private screenings — and he wasn't exactly known for appreciating constructive criticism.

But back to women: All good things come in four. In 1943, just as Chaplin was being criticized by the US government for (allegedly) being both a war sympathizer and a communist, Chaplin married another much younger woman. Her name was Oona and she was the daughter of the Irish writer Eugene O'Neill. Oona was 18, Chaplin 54. The same age Eugene was so furious that he disinherited Oona (but the two had a rather turbulent relationship anyway). Despite repeated criticism, the marriage lasted until after Chaplin's death, had eight children and was described as "true happiness".

Read more:What Hitler and Himmler had to do with witchcraft

It is precisely this last, seemingly harmonious relationship that is often dug out for biographies to portray Chaplin as a refined womanizer who has become a thoroughbred husband: both on set and in life, he always turned to his young wife for advice and help! That may be true, but this marriage, too, was determined by Chaplin's aspirations, his outbursts, his furious anger and the cruelty towards his children. According to Jane Scovell's book Oona: Living in the Shadows actress Joan Collins said that O'Neill looked after her fatherly husband "with the respect of a geisha." According to Marlon Brando's autobiography, Chaplin treated Sydney, one of his sons he fathered with Gray, extremely "cruelly". When Brando and Sydney, who was also an actor, worked on his film with Chaplin The Countess of Hong Kong (1967), Brando wrote that Chaplin humiliated his son in front of Brando and the other cast members. Sydney told Brando that his father "treated all of his children this way." Brando also felt Chaplin's anger: "He began to discipline me in front of all the other actors. He humiliated me and told me I had no professional ethics and was a shame for my profession, "wrote Brando. What did he do wrong? He was 15 minutes late on set.

In other words, while more critical biographers paint the picture of an arrogant genius who manipulated the people around him without any feeling of remorse, Brando is a bit more direct: "Chaplin," he wrote. "Was probably one of the most sadistic men I have ever seen met. "

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