Born in London in 1889, Charlie Chaplin grew up in dire poverty. Both his parents were in show business, but severe alcoholism cut short his father's flourishing career, and his beloved mother first lost her voice, then lost her mind through syphilis. Charlie, at the age of seven, was committed to the Hanwell School for Orphans and Destitute Children. How then did this poor, lonely child become such an extraordinary comedian, known and celebrated worldwide? Weissman traces Chaplin's life and the sources of his genius in fascinating detail, demonstrating how his tragic childhood shaped his personality and his art. Infamous for his politics and his scandalous sex life - both of which Weissman contextualises and analyses - Chaplin was a much more complex and contradictory character than has hitherto been known. Weisman shows, for example, how the rescue of the downtrodden female manifests itself in many of his films, and that Limelight is filled with references to an alcoholic father. Including cutting his teeth as a youngster in British music halls and Mack Sennett of Keystone Films spotting him in a vaudeville troupe and whisking him off to Hollywood and how, three years later he was a millionaire, Weissman brilliantly illuminates both the screen legend and the turbulent era through which he lived and worked. It is a rich and compelling story. Stephen Weissman MD is on the faculty of the Washington School of Psychiatry. He has previous written His Brother's Keeper: A Psychobiography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and held guest lectures on Chaplin to the School of Cinematic Arts in California.
JR Books Ltd
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