From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin Jr., KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977), better known as Charlie Chaplin, was an English comedy actor. Chaplin became one of the most famous actors as well as a notable director and musician in the early to mid Hollywood cinema era. He is considered to be one of the finest mimes and clowns ever caught on film and has greatly influenced performers in this field.
He acted in, directed, scripted, produced, and eventually scored his own films. Chaplin was also one of the most creative and influential personalities in the silent-film era. His working life in entertainment spanned over 65 years, from the Victorian stage and music hall in the United Kingdom as a child performer, almost until his death at the age of eighty-eight. Chaplin's high-profile public and private life encompassed highs and lows with both adulation and controversy.
His principal character was "The Tramp" (known as "Charlot" in France and the French-speaking world, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Turkey, and as "Carlitos" in Brazil). "The Tramp" is a vagrant with the refined manners and dignity of a gentleman. The character wears a tight coat, oversized trousers and shoes, and a derby; carries a bamboo cane; and has a signature toothbrush mustache.
Chaplin's robust health began to slowly fail in the late 1960s, after the completion of his final film A Countess from Hong Kong. In his final years he grew increasingly frail, and died in his sleep on Christmas Day, 1977, in Vevey, Switzerland, aged 88. He was interred in Corsier-Sur-Vevey Cemetery in Corsier-Sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. On March 1, 1978, his body was stolen by a small group of Polish and Bulgarian mechanics in an attempt to extort money from his family. The plot failed, the robbers were captured, and the body was recovered 11 weeks later near Lake Geneva (and reburied under six feet of concrete to prevent another attempt).