Baker & Taylor
A biography of Charles Chaplin sheds new light on the complex world of the actor, discussing his love affairs and marriages, radical political activities, rise from the London Slums to film stardom, and his extraordinary films
Blackwell North Amer
British-born Charlie Chaplin was not only the world's first international movie star but one of the most loved, hated, and gossiped-about figures in film history. In her colorful and absorbing biography of the mercurial Chaplin, Joyce Milton takes us from his childhood in the London slums and his early days as a music hall entertainer through his meteoric rise and the full flowering of his artistic genius in the American film world to his exile in Europe during the 1950s, the heyday of McCarthyism and Red-baiting.
The Keystone comedies era and Chaplin's emergence as a star and director make a fascinating story, peopled by the likes of Mack Sennett, Fatty Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Wallace Beery, and Edna Purviance. His founding of United Artists in 1919, with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, was seminal, giving him a control over his own films that no other writer, actor, or director could hope for under the studio system at the time.
Hollywood in the twenties and thirties makes today's film community seem puritanical by comparison, and Chaplin was a key figure in many of the gamier scandals. Successful, handsome, and a mega-star, he developed a reputation as a seducer of very young women - his second wife, Lita Grey, was fifteen when they became involved, and he married Oona O'Neill, his fourth, when she was eighteen. Fighting a paternity suit and accusations of plagiarism, communism, pacifism, libertinism, and anti-Americanism, Chaplin nevertheless managed to make seventy-one films by the time he was thirty-three years old - with some of his finest work still ahead of him (The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator).
To date only sanitized versions of Chaplin's life have been told, and no biography has yet placed Chaplin in an American context. A strong, determined artist - at once charming and vulnerable but also vain, arrogant, and egotistical - Chaplin fought hard to overcome early hardships, and suffered greatly when the character he created - the Tramp, the Little Fellow - was rendered obsolete by age, changing audience tastes, and the advent of talkies. Joyce Milton's probing and revelatory biography explores the psychological and social roots of Chaplin's art, politics, love life, and friendships through the course of a tumultuous life, at once rich and confounding.
An insightful biography of Charlie Chaplin sheds new light on complex world of the great actor, discussing his love affairs and marriages, radical political activities, rise from the London slums to film stardom, and his extraordinary films. $25,000 ad/promo. Tour.