The little man with the toothbrush mustache, bowler hat, baggy trousers and cane is back in the big time.
Charlie Chaplin, who died in 1977 and whose most famous movie creation was the downtrodden Tramp, is being feted all over the world in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth on Sunday.The abiding legacy of one of the pioneers of the motion picture industry will be displayed at events as diverse as a gala birthday party in Hollywood, a musical tribute in Japan and the dedication of a Chaplin Square in Switzerland.
Chaplin film fans around the world will have a chance to see his art for themselves in a series of centennial retrospectives and screenings. The following is a partial list:
- New York's Museum of Modern Art has been screening his feature films as well as exhibiting posters and stills, while the National Film Theatre in London and Munich's Stadtmuseum are presenting seasons of his works.
- On Sunday, "City Lights" will receive a gala screening attended by Britain's Princess Diana at the Dominion Theatre in London, where it was premiered in 1931. The film will be accompanied by the first concert performance of the music Chaplin composed for it.
- CBS/Fox Video will release at a reduced price a centennial collection including all his commercial films from "A Day's Pleasure" (1918) to "A King in New York" (1957).
"He influenced a whole medium," said Jerry Epstein, a long-time associate of Chaplin whose book "Remembering Charlie" will be published on Sunday. "He gave comedy character, construction and originality."
Chaplin's film career began with the silent movie "Making a Living" in 1914 in which he played a con man posing as an aristocrat. Feeling uncomfortable with the part, he raided the studio wardrobe department and emerged in the livery of the Tramp.
That character formed the basis for his appeal, providing inspiration for all sorts of things including computer commercials on television.