Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977) was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I. Chaplin used mime, slapstick and other visual comedy routines, and continued well into the era of the talkies, though his films decreased in frequency from the end of the 1920s. His most famous role was that of The Tramp, which he first played in the Keystone comedy Kid Auto Races at Venice in 1914. From the April 1914 one-reeler Twenty Minutes of Love onwards he was writing and directing most of his films, by 1916 he was also producing them, and from 1918 he was even composing the music for them. With Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith, he co-founded United Artists in 1919.
Chaplin was one of the most creative and influential personalities of
the silent-film era. He was influenced by his predecessor, the French
silent film comedian Max Linder, to whom he dedicated one of his films. His working life in entertainment spanned over 75 years, from the Victorian stage and the music hall
in the United Kingdom as a child performer, until close to his death at
the age of 88. His high-profile public and private life encompassed
both adulation and controversy. Chaplin was identified with left-wing politics during the McCarthy era and he was ultimately forced to resettle in Europe from 1952.
Chaplin made a series of short slapstick films for Sennett's Keystone
Company. In these films Chaplin developed a character that wore baggy
pants, tight frock coat, large shoes on the wrong feet and a black derby
Chaplin now slowed the pace of his films, reduced the number of visual
jokes but increased the time spent on each one. Chaplin placed the
emphasis on the character rather than slapstick events. The themes of
his films became more serious and reflected his childhood experiences of
poverty, hunger and loneliness. Chaplin's work revolutionized film
comedy and turned it into an art form.