A brief yet definitive new biography of one of film's greatest legends: perfect for readers who want to know more about the iconic star but who don't want to commit to a lengthy work.
He was the very first icon of the silver screen and is one of the most recognizable of Hollywood faces, even a hundred years after his first film. But what of the man behind the moustache? Peter Ackroyd's new biography turns the spotlight on Chaplin's life as well as his work, from his humble theatrical beginnings in music halls to winning an honorary Academy Award. Everything is here, from the glamor of his golden age to the murky scandals of the 1940s and eventual exile to Switzerland. There are charming anecdotes along the way: playing the violin in a New York hotel room to mask the sound of Stan Laurel frying pork chops and long Hollywood lunches with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. This masterful brief biography offers fresh revelations about one of the most familiar faces of the last century and brings the Little Tramp vividly to life.
In his typically elegant and measured prose, prize-winning biographer Ackroyd (Shakespeare: The Biography) brilliantly brings Chaplin to life. Beginning with Chaplin's birth in a poor South London neighborhood, Ackroyd traces his career, from his earliest notices in a play called Jim in 1903, where he learned the value of comic timing, to his stint with the Karno Company, which brought him, along with Stan Laurel, to America in 1910. Chaplin went on to work with Mack Sennett in Keystone films, insisted on working as his own director, made classic films such as City Lights and Modern Times, got involved in politics, and relentlessly pursued women. Ackroyd masterfully paints the colorful backdrop of the youthful film industry, in which Chaplin made a name for himself as one of the first real celebrities of his time, instantly recognizable around the world for his comic performances. Chaplin the man emerges as a protean personality who, in the words of his son, was a "priceless entertainer, a moody dreamer, and the wild man of Borneo with his flashes of volcanic temper." Ackroyd's book introduces the Little Tramp in such a charming and candid fashion that it will drive movie buffs to watch Chaplin on screen once again.