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A Century of Comedy Part 2; Charlie Chaplin to Steve Martin

Updated on January 1, 2014

Charlie Chaplin

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born in London on April 16th 1889, four days later the Notorious Dictator Adolph Hitler, was born in Austria. Chaplin even played a Hitler Caricature in "The Great Dictator" in 1940. The Song "Smile" was written for him and he also wrote the music. In his early life, Charlie Chaplin lost his father at the age of 10. This tragedy forced him and his brother Sydney to fend for themselves. With their parents both being Vaudeville performers, the two youngsters saw the stage as their best opportunity at a career. During filming of Mabel's Strange Predicament, Chaplin created his most famous character "The Tramp," a character built on contradiction. The costume consisted of a derby hat that was too small, shoes that were too big, baggy pants and a tight coat, along with his signature cane and toothbrush mustache. One of Charlie Chaplin's most famous movies involving "The Tramp" was the 1921 film "The Kid," which introduced Jackie Coogan who later went on to play Uncle Fester in the television series "The Adam's Family. In "Modern Times" Charlie Chaplin uses his "Tramp" character to show how easily an ordinary man can fall on hard times and become Homeless.


The Marx Brothers

Did you know that the only time that Harpo Marx ever spoke on film was in a silent film?When Harpo first received his signature harp from his mother Minnie, nobody in town knew how to play so he had to teach himself. Even though Harpo got his nickname because of his harp playing, he could have got it for another distinct reason, Harpocrates is the name of the Greek God of silence.

Did you know that Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had a short lived superhero named "Funnyman" that was based on Danny Kaye's personality?

Kaye also hosted dinners at his home, where he specialized in Italian and Chinese cuisines. He even had a special stove on his patio.

The Secret Life of Danny Kaye

Danny Kaye was a boy from Brooklyn who loved the spotlight. In 1948 a photographer had just taken 7 photos of Winston Churchill, Danny Kaye said "I am supposed to be the star of the show, take 4 more of me." Kaye worked unsuccessfully at various odd jobs, including a stint as an insurance appraiser.He was fired on the spot after making a very costly mistake.

During the forties Kaye signed a contract with Samuel Goldwyn, in which he made his feature film debut in "Up in Arms".

In January 2013 Turner Classic Movies played tribute to what would have been Kaye's 100th birthday by hosting a marathon of his movies.

Danny Kaye love Baseball and from 1977 -1981 was part owner of The Seattle Mariners.

Danny Kaye

Danny Kaye from The Five pennies
Danny Kaye from The Five pennies | Source

The Three Stooges


The Three Stooges

During their 23 years with Columbia Studios, The Three Stooges made 190 short films. They were never aware of their popularity. Studio president Harry Cohn would use scare tactics to get the Stooges to sign another contract each and every year, he would tell them that short subjects were dying out. The fact was that the Stooges were so popular that he could use them as leverage to book mediocre films. It was not until 1957 that Moe Howard learned of Cohn's underhandedness. Although Moe, Curly, and Shemp were brothers, they only appeared in one movie together "Hold that Lion." Another irony is that in the 30's Curly Howard replaced his brother Shemp in Ted Healy's Stooge act, and Shemp Howard Replaced Curly in The Three Stooges in the 40's after Curly's stroke.

The Curly Shuffle


John Candy

The late great comedian, John Candy was born in Toronto, Canada on October 31, 1950. John Candy played football in high school, where he also discovered acting. In the early 1970's Candy met Dan Aykroyd, who would later encourage him to join the Second City Comedy Troupe. John Candy got his big break alongside Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah in the 1984 smash hit "Splash."

Steve Martin

Wild and Crazy Guy Steve Martin, a fellow Leo, was born August 14th, 1945. Martin has been writing and performing comedy since 1967, when he started writing for The Smothers Brothers. In 2004 he was voted # 6 on Comedy Central's 100 greatest comedians. Of all the wonderful films of Steve Martin, my favorite has to be "Planes, Trains and Automobiles. There is something I like about a man struggling to overcome every obstacle in order to make it home for the holidays.

My Top 5 Comedies

Some Like it Hot
#1 On AFI
When Harry Met Sally
#23 On AFI
Young Frankenstein
#13 On AFI
Animal House
#36 On AFI
A Day at the Races
#59 On AFI

Comical Genius

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Charlie Chaplin Biography at

The Tramp Character Biography

Handsaker, Gene (11 October 1948). "Danny Kaye Is a Real Showoff". Kentucky New Era.


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    • rtburroughs2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Robert Burroughs 

      4 years ago

      That is true. I often wonder which of today's comics will be remembered fifty and a hundred years from now.

    • mgeorge1050 profile image


      4 years ago from West Georgia

      I always loved the stooges even though it was all pretty old when I was a kid. I introduced my son to them last year and he can't get enough. I guess true comedy genius has no expiration date.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Very interesting to read about American comedians, especially their backgrounds. My favorite comedian today is Jim Carrey and I love Sandra Bullock for some of her humorous roles.


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