Family tree of Charlie CHAPLIN

Actor, Director

EnglishBorn Charles Spencer CHAPLIN

English comic actor, film director and composer

Born on April 16, 1889 in Walworth, London, England , United Kingdom

Died on December 25, 1977 in Vevey, Switzerland

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Charles Spencer Chaplin was supposedly born in East Street, Walworth, London, England. (In 2011, a letter, written to him in the 1970s, came to light, claiming that he had been born in a Gypsy caravan at Black Patch Park in Smethwick, Staffordshire.) His parents were entertainers in the music hall tradition; his father, Charles Spencer Chaplin Sr, was a vocalist and an actor while his mother, Hannah Chaplin, was a singer and an actress who went by the stage name Lilly Harley. They separated before Charlie was three. He learned singing from his parents. The 1891 census shows that his mother lived with Charlie and his older half-brother Sydney on Barlow Street, Walworth.

As a child, Chaplin also lived with his mother in various addresses in and around Kennington Road in Lambeth, including 3 Pownall Terrace, Chester Street and 39 Methley Street. His paternal grandmother's mother was from the Smith family of Romanichals, a fact of which he was extremely proud, though he described it in his autobiography as "the skeleton in our family cupboard". Charles Chaplin Sr. was an alcoholic and had little contact with his son, though Chaplin and his half-brother briefly lived with him and his mistress, Louise, at 287 Kennington Road. The half-brothers lived there while their mentally ill mother lived at Cane Hill Asylum at Coulsdon. Chaplin's father's mistress sent the boy to Archbishop Temple's Boys School. His father died of cirrhosis when Charlie was twelve in 1901. As of the 1901 Census, Chaplin resided at 94 Ferndale Road, Lambeth, as part of a troupe of young male dancers, The Eight Lancashire Lads, managed by William Jackson.


A larynx condition ended the singing career of Hannah Chaplin. After her re-admission to the Cane Hill Asylum, her son was left in the workhouse at Lambeth in south London, moving several weeks later to the Central London District School for paupers in Hanwell where he stayed from June 1896 until January 1898.

In 1903 Chaplin secured the role of Billy the pageboy in Sherlock Holmes, written by William Gillette and starring English actor H. A. Saintsbury. Saintsbury took Chaplin under his wing and taught him to marshal his talents. In 1905 Gillette came to England with Marie Doro to debut his new play, Clarice, but the play did not go well. When Gillette staged his one-act curtain-raiser, The Painful Predicament of Sherlock Holmes as a joke on the British press, Chaplin was brought in from the provinces to play Billy. When Sherlock Holmes was substituted for Clarice, Chaplin remained as Billy until the production ended on 2 December. During the run, Gillette coached Chaplin in his restrained acting style. Acting in Sherlock Holmes entitled Chaplin to a West End actor's pass for the funeral of Britain's most respected Shakespearean actor, Sir Henry Irving, which he attended, sitting next to the actor Lewis Waller. It was during this engagement that the teenage Chaplin fell hopelessly in love with Doro, but his love went unrequited and Doro returned to America with Gillette when the production closed.

They met again in Hollywood eleven years later. She had forgotten his name but, when introduced to her, Chaplin told her of being silently in love with her and how she had broken his young heart. Over dinner, he laid it on thick about his unrequited love. Nothing came of it until two years later, when they were both in New York and she invited him to dinner and a drive. Instead, Chaplin noted, they simply “dined quietly in Marie’s apartment alone.” However, as Kenneth Lynn pointed out, “Chaplin would not have been Chaplin if he had simply dined quietly with Marie.”

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Geographical origins

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