WHEN DID MICHAEL’S FASCINATION WITH CHARLIE CHAPLIN BEGIN?
Michael Jackson’s Original Painting of Charlie Chaplin
This painting was created by Michael when he was 9 years-old. Chaplin was influential to Jackson and their lives held many similarities. Chaplin is quoted as saying his childhood ended at age 7 as he began performing. Both became international celebrities and experienced life under the watchful and critical eye of the public. While in London, Jackson toured Chaplin’s Childhood neighborhood and was so excited he and a photographer went and purchased clothing for Jackson to dress as Chaplin and take photos. Jackson called Chaplin his “inspiration.”
Michael drawing a pictue of Chaplin as a teenager
Jackson recorded a version of Chaplin’s signature song “Smile” for his History album. The single release cover showed Jackson again dressed as Chaplin.
About Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin was born April 16, 1889 in London England. He died on December 25, 1977 of natural causes Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. He was 87 years old.Charlie Chaplin worked with a children’s dance troupe before making a huge mark on the big screen. His character “The Tramp” relied on pantomime and quirky movements to become an iconic figure of the silent-film era. Chaplin went on to become a director, making films like City Lights and Modern Times, and co-founded the United Artists Corporation.
Charlie Chaplin’s rise to fame is a true rags-to-riches story. His father, a notorious drinker, abandoned Chaplin, his mother and his older half-brother, Sydney, not long after Chaplin’s birth. That left Chaplin and his brother in the hands of their mother, a vaudevillian and music hall singer who went by the stage name Lily Harley.
Chaplin’s mother, who would later suffer severe mental issues and have to be committed to an asylum, was able to support her family for a few years. But in a performance that would introduce her youngest boy to the world of performance, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the stage manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he’d heard sing, onto the stage to replace her.
Chaplin lit up the audience, wowing them with his natural presence and comedic angle (at one point he imitated his mother’s cracking voice). But the episode meant the end for Hannah. Her singing voice never returned and she eventually ran out of money. For a time, Charlie and Sydney had to make a new, temporary home for themselves in London’s tough workhouses.
Armed with his mother’s love of the stage, Chaplin was determined to make it in show business himself and in 1897 using his mother’s contacts landed with a clog dancing troupe named the Eight Lancashire Lads. It was a short stint, and not a terribly profitable one, forcing the go-getter Chaplin to make ends meet anyway he could.
“I (was) newsvendor, printer, toymaker, doctor’s boy, etc., but during these occupational digressions, I never lost sight of my ultimate aim to become an actor,” Chaplin later recounted. “So, between jobs I would polish my shoes, brush my clothes, put on a clean collar and make periodic calls at a theatrical agency.”
Eventually other stage work did come his way. Chaplin made his acting debut as a pageboy in a production of Sherlock Holmes. From there he toured with a vaudeville outfit named Casey’s Court Circus and in 1908 teamed up with the Fred Karno pantomime troupe, where Chaplin became one of its stars as The Drunk in the comedic sketch, A Night in an English Music Hall.
With the Karno troupe, Chaplin got his first taste of the United States, where he caught the eye of film producer Mack Sennett, who signed Chaplin to a contract for a $150 a week.
In 1914 Chaplin made his film debut in a somewhat forgettable one-reeler called Make a Living. To differentiate himself from the clad of other actors in Sennett films, Chaplin decided to play a single identifiable character. “The Little Tramp” was born, with audiences getting their first taste of him in Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914).
Over the next year, Chaplin appeared in 35 movies, a lineup that included Tillie’s Punctured Romance, film’s first full-length comedy. In 1915 Chaplin left Sennett to join the Essanay Company, which agreed to pay him $1,250 a week. It’s with Essanay that Chaplin, who by this time had hired his brother Sydney to be his business manager, rose to stardom.
During his first year with the company, Chaplin made 14 films, including The Tramp (1915). Generally regarded as the actor’s first classic, the story establishes Chaplin’s character as unexpected hero when he saves farmer’s daughter from a gang of robbers.
By the age of 26, Chaplin, just three years removed from his vaudeville days was a movie superstar. He’d moved over to the Mutual Company, which paid him a whopping $670,000 a year. The money made Chaplin a wealthy man, but it didn’t seem to derail his artistic drive. With Mutual, he made some of his best work, including One A.M. (1916), The Rink (1916), The Vagabond(1916), and Easy Street (1917).
Through his work, Chaplin came to be known as a grueling perfectionist. His love for experimentation often meant countless retakes and it was not uncommon for him to order the rebuilding of an entire set. It also wasn’t rare for him to begin with one leading actor, realize he’d made a mistake in his casting, and start again with someone new.
But the results were hard to refute. During the 1920s Chaplin’s career blossomed even more. During the decade he made some landmark films, including The Kid (1921), The Pilgrim (1923), A Woman in Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), a movie Chaplin would later say he wanted to be remembered by, and The Circus(1928). The latter three were released by United Artists, a company Chaplin co-founded in 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith.
Chaplin became equally famous for his life off-screen. His affairs with actresses who had roles in his movies were numerous. Some, however, ended better than others.
In 1918 he quickly married 16-year-old Mildred Harris. The marriage lasted two years, and in 1924 he wed again, to another 16-year-old, actress Lita Grey, whom he’d cast in The Gold Rush. The marriage had been brought on by an unplanned pregnancy, and the resulting union, which produced two sons for Chaplin (Charles Jr., and Sydney) was an unhappy one for both partners. The two split in 1927.
In 1936, Chaplin married again, this time to a chorus girl who went by the film name of Paulette Goddard. They lasted until 1942. That was followed by a nasty paternity suit with another actress, Joan Barry, in which tests proved Chaplin was not the father of her daughter but a jury still ordered him to pay child support.
In 1943, Chaplin married 18-year-old Oona O’Neil, the daughter of playwright, Eugene O’Neil. Unexpectedly the two would go on to have a happy marriage, one that would result in eight children for the couple.
Chaplin kept creating interesting and engaging films in the 1930s. In 1931, he released City Lights, a critical and commercial success that incorporated music Chaplin scored himself.
More acclaim came with Modern Times (1936), a biting commentary about the state of world’s economic and political infrastructures. The film, which did incorporate sound and did not include “The Little Tramp” character, was, in part, the result of an 18-month world tour Chaplin had taken between 1931 and 1932, a trip in which he’d witnessed severe economic angst and a sharp rise in nationalism in Europe and elsewhere.
Chaplin spoke even louder in The Great Dictator (1940), which pointedly ridiculed the governments of Hitler and Mussolini. “I want to see the return of decency and kindness,” Chaplin said around the time of the film’s release. “I’m just a human being who wants to see this country a real democracy . . .”
But Chaplin was not universally embraced. His romantic liaisons led to his rebuke by some women’s groups, which in turn led to him being barred from entering some U.S. states. As the Cold War age settled into existence, Chaplin didn’t withhold his fire from injustices he saw taking place in the name of fighting Communism in his adopted country of the United States.
Chaplin soon became a target of the right wing conservatives. Representative John E. Ranking of Mississippi pushed for his deportation. Chaplin was openly satirical of American society and as a direct result of his opinions, in 1952, the Attorney General of the United States obliged when he announced that Chaplin, who was sailing to Britain on vacation, was not permitted to return to the United States unless he could prove “moral worth.” The incensed Chaplin said goodbye to United States and took up residence on a small farm in Vevey, Switzerland.
Nearing the end of his life, Chaplin did make one last return to visit to the United States in 1972, when he was awarded a special Academy Award from the Motion Picture Academy. The trip came just six years after Chaplin’s final film, A Countess from Hong Kong(1966), the filmmaker’s first and only color movie. Despite a cast that included Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando, the film did poorly at the box office. In 1975, Chaplin received more recognition when Queen Elizabeth knighted him.
In the early morning hours of December 25, 1977, Charlie Chaplin died at his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. His wife Oona and seven of his children were at his bedside at the time of his passing. In a twist that might very well have come out of one of his films, Chaplin’s body was stolen not long after he was buried from his grave near Lake Geneva in Switzerland by two men who demanded $400,000 for its return. The men were arrested and Chaplin’s body was recovered 11 weeks later.
Charlie Chaplin was not just a screen writer, composer, actor, comedian, his life, his laughter continue to serve even today as our guiding light to love humanity. He left a timeless legacy of bringing us smiles and a guiding light to love others. The movies, the music he gave to us and to the world is timeless. We must not get lost in the fun and frolic, we must remember especially as Americans that an important part of his life was spent in exile because he spoke openly about pre-judgments. His living contribution is his last chapter in his career – his goals for humanity for unity and non-discrimination.
Our US history must be remembered along with our present and past pre-judgments. What this entertainment genius gave to the world is also a great mirror of who we were as Americans at that time in history. We cannot grow unless we remember who we were – else we will slip back into that abyss. Source
Similarities Between Chaplin and Michael
Chaplin was known the world over for making people smile. His career is denoted by laughter. And as a composer, he stuck with that theme writing one of the greatest songs of all times “Smile”. Smile has been recorded by every great singer from Barbara Streisand to Sammy Davis to Nat King Cole. I was told of Charlie’s talent but never really understood – until now. It gives me great pleasure to share with you the works of this amazing creative genius. Upon closer review, I believe Charlie Chaplin’s greatest legacy was not the laughter that he left with us, not the most famous song entitled “Smile” but with his humanitarian efforts expressed so eloquently in his final films. Charlie Chaplin always personified the change he wished to see in the world. His lasting legacy extends beyond the great comedic silent movies he created, directed, produced and acted in. His lasting legacy is even grander than his stellar career. His lasting legacy is his his humanitarian efforts towards peace. Source
Michael Jackson was also a man of peace who used his status and platform to teach the world about causes that plagued us. He also back up his beliefs by giving more to charity than any other entertainer in the world.
- Michael and Charlie started show business at the age of 5. They both loved the stage.
- Both men arose from rages to riches.
- Chaplin’s father physical abandoned him. Michael felt emotional abandoned by his father
- Chaplin was raised by his mom. Michael loved and relied on his mother for support and comfort.
- After being pushed on stage to replace his mom, Chaplin showed much natural stage presence. Michael had so much stage presence, he wowed everyone when he first sang, “Climb Every Mountain” at a school talent show. Soon afterwards, he replaced his brother Jermaine as lead singer of the Jackson 5.
“I was so nervous when he walked out on the stage, because he was always shy. He started singing the song, and he sang it with such clarity and didn’t miss — not flat or anything.”
His paternal grandfather, who was in the audience “cried like a baby, looked around, and I was crying, too,” she said. “He got a standing ovation for his performance and he wasn’t nervous. I was shocked. I think he must feel more at home on stage.”
Older brother Jermaine was the Jackson 5’s lead singer from the start, but their mother told her husband it should be Michael. “I told him Jermaine needed help, and I told him Michael could help him,” she said. “He didn’t believe me, so I forced him to listen. And that’s how Michael got the job.” ~ Katherine Jackson (CNN)
- Chaplin was a virtual genius who tried his hand at everything from acting, directing film, songwriting, comedy etc.. Michael was as equally dedicated, hardworking and genius. He was an actor, songwriter, director, choreographer, singer and muscian. He also could draw and paint. He was well-read and very intelligent.
- Chaplin was married several times to young women, which caused a lot of controversy. Michael’s two marriages were controversal and met with much suspicion.
- Chaplin was ostrosized for his views and stances on world politics, as well as his lifestyle. Michael was ridiculed for everything, including his looks, lifestyle, etc.
- After a European excursion in 1952 Chaplin, was not allowed to disembark his ship to return to America. Michael was emotionally exiled by his own country when he was falsely accused and scorned for child molestation.
- Both men were great humanitarians and strived to be different to make chances in the world.
- Charlie Chaplin wrote the song, “Smile.” Michael’s favorite song was “Smile.”
- The intentions and creative genius of both men were greatly misunderstood by the people of their time. Future generations will look back and see and appreciate the great and mightly men that they both were. Comparison written by All Things Michael
Chaplin’s Version of a “Moonwalk”
Michael Jackson and Oona Chaplin Meet
People have wondered if Michael Jackson and Charlie Chaplin ever met. They did not. Michael was a famous child and teenage singing star with the Jackson 5, as well as some solo work during Chaplin’s later years. Michael was a huge fan of Chaplin’s and the song ‘Smile’ was his favorite song. Jackson did say he always wanted to meet Oona Chaplin, which he did in the 1980s.
According to Jane Scovell book – ‘Oona: Living in the Shadows’ Oona’s old friend Sophia Loren, “something of a Jackson groupie,” had been attending Jackson’s concerts, and when the singer came to Switzerland the Italian actress did arrange for them to meet on June 16, 1988. He (Michael Jackson) went to the Manoir and was given a tour of the estate by Oona. At one point she told him that he and Charlie “had a lot in common: you were born poor and had to strive to achieve all that you have.” – ‘Oona: Living in the Shadows’ by Jane Scovell/ Edna’s Place
Here is a tour of the Manior in Switzerland by Chaplin fan Rainer Mann. LINK
Michael holds two Honorary Awards given to Chaplin in 1929 and 1972 by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Chaplin’s wife, Oona O’Neill holds the Academy Award for Best Original Score, awarded in 1973.
SWITZERLAND: One of Michael’s dreams came true when he met one of his idol’s family in Switzerland as told by family circus producer Rolf Knie.
Michael Jackson came incognito visit to the Chaplin family, in Corsier (VD). Rolf Knie has served as a guide. The circus man tells this unforgettable encounter with a polite and shy singer, a prisoner of its success.
It was June 17, 1988 and Rolf Knie has forgotten nothing. Over twenty years later, the feelings associated with this special day are always deep. The discovery of a simple and endearing Michael Jackson. The outrage at what has been said about him then …
That day, the clown and now producer of the circus Salto Natale served as a guide to Bambi in the famous mansion Ban inhabited by the Chaplin family, in Corsier-sur-Vevey. “I remember the extreme politeness of Michael, his calmness, his shyness. I remember the way he waited qu’Oona Chaplin sit down to do the same, how he did not dare ask first a Pepsi. It is these details which denotes someone. It was just normal. Since then, I keep to his defense when attacked. The journalists have invented the horrors on him. For fifteen years, they will not stop the killing. “
We must tell. Originally the meeting, there Geraldine Chaplin, the eldest daughter of Oona and Charlie Chaplin. At a concert of Michael which she attends, the singer says he admires how her father. Geraldine called Rolf Knie, an old family friend and regular at the Manor. “Michael would come to Corsier. Can you arrange something? “
In a passage from Michael in Basel, Rolf Knie starts: he phoned his hotel and met his agent, Frank DiLeo. “Some friends told me it was crazy and impossible … Half an hour later, however, reminiscent of Michael himself. “He was very happy. We agreed to an appointment for a Friday to 15 hours. “
On that day, families await Knie Chaplin and the star. The time line, it does not happen. “Around 15 h 30, the doorman came running in saying,” Somebody just called, I did not catch his name. “It was Michael. “I took the phone. It was quite embarrassed, he apologized a thousand times. He had lost and he was calling from a service station in Vevey … The porter is going to look there. The singer arrives without bodyguard, just accompanied by his assistant, a gentleman of a certain age. “The archives have marveled. Then he played in the park with my son Gregory innocently. I think that children who take as it is, he could finally show normal. it left a big one. “
Another aspect of the star has impressed: “He knew perfectly the life of Chaplin, a true lexicon. The dates of the films, the names of the actors, everything. we have a summary type uneducated, was totally false. “The parallel between Jackson and Chaplin seems natural to him:” Even poor children, even lawsuits against them. they emit the same wave and they experienced similar problems with the world when they have common as well. Both did not give interviews. they responded with their films or their music. Had they known, they would have spent whole days together
Two months later, Michael Jackson calls Oona Chaplin and Rolf Knie his concert in Lausanne. “Before the show, we have visited him in his locker. There were long tables covered with caviar and salmon. Michael shrugged: “Oh, it’s not for me, but my team is hungry … “
In the end, Rolf and Oona attending the hasty departure of the star: “The music still sounded when he was quickly engulfed in a car behind the scene. We followed him and we feared: Thousands of fans have been assaulted. I realized that Michael lived every day. he was a prisoner of his success. “The clown keeps bitterness. “Today I am angry against those who did not have mercy on him. And glad he found peace. Source
French: encounter with Eudokia Sofianou and Wendy Rose Jackson. Source
A memory by Keira Chaplin, Charlie’s granddaughter ~ “I went for tea at my grandmother’s house and Michael Jackson was sitting there. I was about seven years old and we lived next door to my grandmother, Oona. I went round one day and there was a helicopter in her garden. I went in to see her and Michael was sitting there. I was terrified because he was my absolute idol and I was actually holding my Michael Jackson doll. I couldn’t speak to him as I was such a fan. He was there because he was a fan of my grandfather Charlie Chaplin. He asked me to sit on his lap but I was too shy.”
Michael, Oona Chaplin and Rolf Knie backstage Bad Tour
Michael’s Chaplin Photoshoot Feature in the Michael Jackson Opus
Michael often told me that “Smile” was one of his favorite recordings. I remember we were in the studio, and I came up with the idea at the end of the song to have the piano sound old, like in an old movie theater, with the sound slowly disappearing. Michael told me it would work magically with the short film he had planned for the song. He would walk away from the camera just like Charlie Chaplin did at the end of his movies. He loved Chaplin, said he saw a lot of himself in him. —David Foster – Source: LA Times Magazine – December 2009 – By —Peter Guber /Michael Jackson Opus
CHIEFS: Jordan Sommers, left, Jeff Wald and Deborah Wald of Opus. Jackson evoked Charlie Chaplin in 1994. (Christina House / For The Times)
The black-and-white photos of Michael Jackson are remarkable not only as previously unreleased images of one the last half-century’s most photographed men. They also reveal much about the pop superstar’s abiding impulses: his impish sense of humor, his fealty to yesteryear’s master showmen and his concern about his own place in the pop culture firmament.
Sporting a threadbare black suit, pancake makeup and a miniature brush mustache, Jackson is a doppelgänger for Charlie Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” character from 1921’s “The Kid.” The photos, taken in 1994 by Steve Whitsitt, were originally intended as a companion piece to the Chaplin-inspired video the director-photographer was shooting for “Smile” — the cover of the silent comedian’s famous song that appears on Jackson’s “HIStory” album. But when the Chaplin estate issued a cease-and-desist order to stifle “Smile’s” release as a video and single, Whitsitt abandoned the photos to his archives.
Until earlier this year, that is, when the photographer received a surprise phone call from photo editor Deborah Wald, who was working on a new Jackson omnibus. “I asked him if he had something special, something of Michael that hadn’t previously seen the light of day,” Wald said. “And he said, ‘I think I have something.’ Source: LA Times/Michael Jackson Opus December 9, 2009 – By Chris Lee
Michael’s Thoughts and Words About Chaplin
COLACELLO: Why do you want to forget so much? Do you think life is really hard?
JACKSON: No, maybe it’s because I just like jumping in other people’s lives and exploring. Like Charlie Chaplin. I just love him to death. The little tramp, the whole gear and everything, and his heart—everything he portrayed on the screen was a truism. It was his whole life. He was born in London, and his father died an alcoholic when he was six. He roamed the streets of England, begging, poor, hungry. All this reflects on the screen and that’s what I like to do, to bring all of those truths out . . . Source: Interview – By Bob Colacello
He stated “If I could work with anybody, it would be Charlie Chaplin who I love so much”
“You have to have that tragedy, that pain to pull from. That’s what makes a clown great. You can see he’s hurting behind the masquerade. He’s something else externally. Chaplin did that so beautifully, better than anyone.” Source
Michael Dressed As Chaplin Over the Years
1979 – Pictures By Tony Prime
The pictures were taken by British photographer Tony Prime when the Jackson 5 visited the UK in 1979.
Prime was the only snapper with the Jacksons on a day they were doing interviews at London’s Capital Radio station. It was there that a shy [Jackson] asked Tony if he was a Londoner because he wanted someone who could tell him where to buy the military-style jackets that were to become his trademark stage outfit. Tony told him that there was a shop across the street from the radio station and took him there.
The singer then insisted his new friend come with him on a tour of London and both jumped into the white Rolls-Royce the Jacksons were travelling in. [Jackson] told Tony he was obsessed with Charlie Chaplin and asked him to show him where the comedian was born. The snapper’s pal added: “Jackson was fascinated by the life of Chaplin and wanted to know all he could about where the comic grew up.”Tony told him he would take him for a drive around and point out various places related to Chaplin. Then all of a sudden Jackson said he wanted to get dressed up as Chaplin so they took him out and bought him the clothes and a cane.”
Then, dressed as his comic hero, [Jackson] posed on the streets of Stockwell in south London where the silent screen legend was born in 1889.
He was so thrilled with the pictures he asked Tony if he could have a set. The pal added: “It was just one of those magical one-off moments. “They shared a few fun hours together and the pictures show that, but Tony never heard from him again. He has always been happy though knowing that his pictures were in Jackson’s private album.”
Michael dressed as Charlie Chaplin~The Little Tramp, photo by Tony Prime, also from South London in 1979 in East Street, South London,the birthplace of Charlie Chaplin. Michael was so charming during the photoshoot that a neighbourhood woman gave him her Chaplin scrapbooks and Michael in turn purchased a bathtub for her. Original source no longer available
Charlie Chaplin Museum
Planning for this project has been going on for quite a while. The museum is expected to officially open in the spring of 2015. I am sure that Michael would have have attended.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHARLIE!