charlie chaplin -- 9/8/23

Today's selection -- from Charlie Chaplin: A Life From Beginning to End by Hourly History. Born in England, young Charlie Chaplin came to America and entered the fledging Hollywood film industry. He would become early Hollywood’s wealthiest and most dominant star:

“The first official feature length comedic film in the entire film industry was an irreverent little gem called, Tillie's Punctured Romance which debuted at the tail end of 1914. The fact that Charlie Chaplin starred in this movie making milestone would only serve to further cement Chaplin's claim as one of the most pivotal pioneers of film to have ever graced the screen. 

“The film, though peppered with over-the-top humor, contains a rather complex plotline, involving Chaplin as a wandering womanizer from the city who attempts to take advantage of a rich country heiress named Tillie. With this film, Chaplin gained more notoriety and acclaim, and as such when it came time to renew his contract, Chaplin took it upon himself to ask his manager for a raise. He asked Sennett for $1,000 a week, a sum that would amount to about $25,000 today. A reasonable pay check for an up-and-coming star, Chaplin assumed, but upon hearing his request, Sennett flatly turned him down. This would prove to be a grave mistake on Sennett's part because the rebuffed Chaplin took his work elsewhere. 

“Instead of renewing his contract he signed on with Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in Chicago who were offering him an easy $1250 a week, and a sign on bonus of $10,000. Chaplin had learned a valuable lesson when it came to negotiating contracts and shopping around his talent to the highest bidder. After wrangling for himself the best possible deal, he officially began making appearances at the studio in December 1914. 

“Here, instead of the bit player he was when he first began at Keystone Pictures, Chaplin came into his own and began calling the shots from the beginning. One of his first major contributions was the acquisition of a leading lady in the form of Edna Purviance. Interestingly enough, Charlie Chaplin, proving himself as much of a talent scout as he was an actor, had practically snatched Edna right off the street. He saw her at a local cafe and was immediately captivated by her appearance. Believing she would be a lovely choice for leading lady in his upcoming film A Night Out, Chaplin went right over and told her as much. Edna would be by Chaplin's side– in more ways than one– in major films over the next eight years. The two became on-again and off-again romantic partners in real life from 1915 to 1917. 

Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times Roller Skating Scene 

“During this time, Chaplin also began to reprise the role of his tramp character, moving away from some of his more brutish antics, creating more of a romanticized and gentle persona. And he reaped the dividends as a result. He soon began to see his tame and lovable characterization featured in comic strips and feature length cartoons. Walt Disney in fact, later admitted that it was Charlie's tramp template on which the cartoon character Mickey Mouse had been based. 

“The visage of Charlie Chaplin's tramp was everywhere. Riding high on this tide when his contract with Essanay came to a close at the end of 1915, Charlie Chaplin was in a position to accept the very best of contracts that came his way. The highest bidder turned out to be Mutual Film Corporation who offered him no less than $10,000 a week  to work for them. The amount was a small fortune back in 1915, making it appear, much as his later film of the same name, that Mr. Charlie Chaplin was now on Easy Street.”



Hourly History


Charlie Chaplin: A Life From Beginning to End


CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform


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