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  • Carrie Specht

Charlie Chaplin Began His Career in Film on This Day in 1913


On December 16, 1913 Charlie Chaplin began his film career at Keystone for $150 a week. He was just twenty-four years-old at the time. Considered to be one of the most pivotal stars of the early days of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin lived an interesting life both in cinema and behind the scenes. He is most recognized as an icon of silent films, associated with his popular character, the Little Tramp who wore a toothbrush mustache, donned a bowler hat, carried a bamboo cane, and had a funny walk.

Chaplin was born into poverty in England and started performing on the stage from a young age. Both his parents had been vaudeville performers, so it was only natural that he would follow then into the trade. He began his official acting career at the age of eight, touring with the Eight Lancashire Lads. At age 18, he began touring with Fred Karno's vaudeville troupe, joining them on the troupe's 1910 United States tour. He traveled west to California in December 1913 and signed on with Keystone Studios' popular comedy director Mack Sennett, who had seen Chaplin perform on stage in New York. While at Keystone, Chaplin appeared in and directed 35 films, starring as the Little Tramp in nearly all.

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