Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chaplin, O'Neill, Salinger

Today is the birthday of Charles Chaplin. Born to theatrical parents in south London in 1889, Chaplin entered the family business on the English music hall circuit, but soon went to America where he was discovered by the motion picture industry. It was on film that he created his alter-ego, a splay footed, moustached, baggy-pantsed figure called "The Little Tramp."

Chaplin left England an obscure comedian in 1910. When he returned in 1921 he was the most famous man in the world. Arriving at Waterloo Station he was lifted onto the shoulders of a large crowd and cheered by thousands along the three-mile cab ride to the Ritz Hotel. He was 32.

Chaplin appears on pages 79 and 112 in A Book of Ages, but he also appears in other people's stories, as in 1941 when he begins dating Oona O'Neill, the daughter of the famous playwright and the girlfriend of J. D. Salinger. This is part of the fun of the book, the crossed paths, the intersecting lives of famous people.

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