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Entertainment legend Charlie Chaplin died 40 years ago today

man and dog

Charlie Chaplin in a scene from the 1918 silent film “Dog’s Life”


London-born actor, director and composer Charlie Chaplin died near Lake Geneva 40 years ago today. His son says the famous entertainer found Christmas too commercial. 

Chaplin passed away aged 88 in his sleep in the early hours of Christmas Day in 1977. He had been living in Corsier-sur-Vevey for 25 years. 

+ A victim of a McCarthy era witch-hunt, Charlie Chaplin settled into Swiss exile in 1953 

With eight children at home, Christmas was a lively celebration involving a huge pile of presents. But the droll-looking comic actor wasn’t so amused. 

“He wasn’t interested in the tree or the gifts. He found that it was all too commercial,” son Eugene Chaplin, 64, told the Swiss News Agency. He grew up at the family home Manoir de Ban, which now houses a museum devoted to the late creator of films like “Modern Times” and “The Great Dictator”.

man and ice sculpture

Eugene Chaplin, son of comic actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, poses with an ice sculpture of his father on Mount Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps.


Indeed, Chaplin was a strict father, recalls Eugene Chaplin. For example, he and his siblings had to be quiet when their father was writing. And they, too, were expected to do their very best at whatever they did. 

“If we got bad grades, he’d say, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are to be able to go to school’,” said Eugene Chaplin, a documentary maker. But he has many happy memories of his father, like playing football with him in the garden. “My childhood was a fantastic time.”

Film legend Charlie Chaplin at his best

Film compilation courtesy of Cineteca di Bologna with additional thanks to the Association Chaplin in Paris.

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