Here are 10 things you should know about Richard Barthelmess, born 125 years ago today. He was a big star in the 1920s, but his popularity dropped off (inexplicably, from where we sit) once talking pictures took over.
Here are 10 things you should know about Lionel Barrymore, born 142 years ago today. He was accomplished in many different disciplines, but of course made his biggest mark on the stage and screen.
The immortal Charlie Chaplin was born Charles Spencer Chaplin 128 years ago today. There is no official record of his birth, but Chaplin said he was born on East Street in South London. Here are 10 CC Did-You-Knows:
- Chaplin’s childhood was a difficult one. His alcoholic father was largely absent (and died at 37, when Charlie was just 12), and his mother was committed to a mental asylum when he was 14.
- For some time, even after becoming very successful, Chaplin continued to live in a cheap hotel room.
- Chaplin was married four times, with a greater disparity between his age and his wife’s with each new union (12 years, 19 years, 21 years and 37 years). He had 11 children with those four wives; he was 73 years old when his youngest, Charles, was born in 1962.
- Stan Laurel was once Chaplin’s understudy during their years on the English stage. Later, when they had both emigrated to the United States, they roomed together in a boarding house. No cooking was allowed there, so when Laurel was making dinner on a hot plate, Chaplin played the violin to cover the sound of the frying.
- Chaplin was the first actor to appear on the cover of Time magazine (the July 6, 1925 issue).
- Contrary to popular belief, Chaplin’s eyes were a striking shade of blue.
- Chaplin received no screen credit for his early films for Keystone (it was that studio’s policy not to credit actors); it wasn’t until 1915 that Chaplin finally received a screen credit, when he made his first film for Essanay.
- In addition to his many other accomplishments, Chaplin was a composer. He wrote more than 500 songs, including the beloved hit “Smile,” and later in life scored some of his early films when they were reissued.
- In 1947, Chaplin was subpoenaed by—but never appeared before—the House Un-American Activities Committee. He sent HUAC a telegram, reading: “I am not a Communist, neither have I ever joined any political party or organization in my life.” That seems to have satisfied them.
- Chaplin was a cofounder of United Artists, along with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D. W. Griffith.
Happy birthday, Charlie Chaplin, wherever you may be!
Here are 10 things you should know about Donald Crisp, born 137 years ago today. Crisp tended to play characters who were forthright and true, but offscreen he had few equals as a teller of tall tales. He claimed he was born in Scotland (he wasn’t), that he was a British spy in Russia right after World War I (nope), that his father was Royal Surgeon to the King (he wasn’t even a physician)—we could go on and on.
We think we have the facts straight for this video tribute, but don’t hold it against us if we get a detail or two wrong. Blame Crisp!
Here are 10 things you should know about the legendary Lillian Gish, born 125 years ago today, whose acting career spanned nine decades.