5 Things You Didn't Know About Charlie Chaplin

On April 16, 1889, future Hollywood legend Charlie Chaplin was born Charles Spencer Chaplin in London, England. Here are 5 things you didn't know about one of the most successful stars of early Hollywood...

 
ADVERTISEMENT

Chaplin Once Made an Actress Say the Same Two Words 342 Times. Chaplin had a well-deserved reputation as a perfectionist, and his dedication to getting things right showed in his films. His methods could raise some eyebrows, however. For example, he once made an actress repeat two words, "Flower sir?" an astounding 342 times when directing City Lights. Keep in mind that City Lights was a silent film, and Chaplin wasn't concerned about her actual tone of voice. All those takes were to get the actress' facial expression and physical actions right.

He Didn't Make a Talkie Until 1940. Sound had become a part of movies long before Charlie Chaplin agreed to speak on screen. In fact, when sound first made inroads after 1927, Chaplin continued to make movies that were essentially silent save for a musical score and some spoken gibberish that was supposed to be fake Italian. His first "talkie" wasn't made until 1940, when he made The Great Dictator. Luckily, Chaplin's voice was well suited to talkies. Poor vocal skills had knocked several famous silent stars out of pictures once sound became an expected part of a film and their voices didn't prove to be up to the task.

 
ADVERTISEMENT

He Has a Minor Planet Named After Him. 3623 Chaplin is a minor planet -- a fancy way of saying it's an asteroid -- that orbits our sun. It was discovered and named in 1981 by a Soviet astronomer named Lyudmila Georgievna Karachkina. She was an expert at finding these smaller celestial bodies and decided to name this one after Charlie Chaplin.

He Married Three Separate Teenagers Chaplin didn't have the best track record in terms of marriage, and he tended to marry young -- as in, his first wife was 17 and his second wife was only 16. In 1943, Chaplin, who was 54 at the time, married Oona O’Neill, 18, who was the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill. Their marriage lasted until Chaplin died, and they had eight children together. The marriage came at a cost, however;  Eugene O'Neill was so opposed to his daughter's marriage that he disowned Oona.

Chaplin’s Body Was Stolen Two Months After His Death In 1978, several months following his death, Chaplin’s body was stolen from a cemetery in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, and held for ransom. The robbers wanted $600,000 for the remains. Two auto mechanics, one from Bulgaria and the other from Poland were arrested, and Chaplin’s body was discovered in Corsair, around one mile from his family home, buried in a cornfield. Roman Wardas, was sentenced to 4 ½ years at hard labor, while his cohort, Gantscho Ganev, received a suspended sentence of 18 months. The two apologized in writing just before they were sent to jail.