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Smile by Charlie Chaplin -His Life - His Legacy and His Family

Updated on April 9, 2015

I have always known who Charlie Chaplin was - who didn't? With his distinctive tramp costume that all of us laughed at. Yet, I didn't learn about his life until after the movie by Robert Downey Jr Iron Man. You see, Robert Downey Jr. gave credit to a genius, an artistic genius. Yet upon researching the life of Charlie Chaplin, he was more than an actor, a song composer, and as I my readers know I have called him one of the greatest pilgrims of peace the world has ever known. The museum in Switzerland is scheduled to open in 2013. One sponsor is on board - Nestle Chocolate. Yet, sadly, I have not heard anything more.

The irony of the song is the music was written by Charlie Chaplin for his 1936 movie called Modern Times. The lyrics would be written by two other artists literally 2 decades later in 1954 and 2 years after Charlie was exiled from the United States.

What is fascinating is the number of top musicians who have sung Charlie Chaplin's famous song "Smile". From Judy Garland to Diana Ross to McBride to Nat King Cole to Barbara Streisand and the list goes on. I must say the most moving of all versions for me is Josh Groban. The song is always beautiful and always touching but Groban's voice was made for this song. I can see Charlie smiling with this miraculous presentation of the song.

Josh Groban Smile

Chaplin Composed "Smile" - Lyrics by Turner and Parsons

"Chaplin composed the music, while John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954.[1] In the lyrics, the singer is telling the listener to cheer up and that there is always a bright tomorrow, just as long as they smile. "Smile" has become a popular standard since its original use in Chaplin's film."

Charlie was the Tramp The Gentleman and the Child in All of Us

Charlie Chaplin and Little Boy Jackie Coogan
Charlie Chaplin and Little Boy Jackie Coogan | Source

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp The Gentleman The Child The Pilgrim of Peace

Charlie Chaplin to me was an inventor, yet to the world he was a tramp, a gentleman, a great artist, a comedian and he represented the child within all of us. Beyond his great inventions, in Charlie's maturity, he spoke to us about peace. To McCarthy, he was a "leftist", to me he was a freedom fighter. He fought for the ability for us to laugh at ourselves during one of the greatest tragedies in our lifetime, in our world. He fought with humor for the rights of the worker, he fought for peace with his satirical portrayal of Hitler.

In the midst of his greatness, the American people ignored him and allowed McCarthy to rule the United States. We didn't speak up. Did we know? Was it not politically correct? Whatever the excuse, the answer today must be to know our history and fight as Charlie would fight for freedom of expression. Suppression of creativity, suppression of opinion is the death knell for freedom - not just for the United States but also for the world.

McCarthy Era

Late 1940's
Early 1950's

Charlie Chaplin Residency (Not Citzenship)

United States

Significant Events in Charlie Chaplin's Life

April 16th Birth
Birth of a Genius
Invented the Tramp
Created Silent Comedy
Invented Film Distribution
United Artists Continues Today
Pioneering Film Artist
Produced Films
Modern Times
Controversal Movie
The Great Dictator
First Talking Movie by Chaplin
Not Allowed to Re-Enter United States
Lyrics to Smile Written
Favorite Song Among Many Artists
Honored with Film Award
Visited United States
Now Sir Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin's Death 12/25
World Lost a Great Artist and Inventor
Tomb Robbers Tried to Exhort Money
Now Buried Under 6 Feet of Concrete
Celebrate Chaplin's Life

Charlie the Inventor in Addition to Song Composer of Smile

Charlie Chaplin did more than create comedy, he created lasting characters that touch our very soul and which we relate to even today. As a businessman, Charlie created in partnership with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D W Griffith formed a film distribution company called United Artists. United Artists continues to day to operate as a film studio, now as a subsidiary under MGM.

Charlie Chaplin had some of the highest grossing silent films in the world.

Controversial Charlie

In 1952, during the McCarthy era in the United States, Charlie was chastised for his "left-wing" politics. On his return from a European vacation, his re-entry to the United States was denied. Chaplin then made Vevey Switzerland his home. He would not return to the United States for another 20 years (April 1972) and then it was simply a visit to pick up a lifetime film achievement, an Honorary Oscar.

Sadly, the controversies that haunted Charlie in his life continued after his death. In 1978, his tomb was robbed and his corpse was held for ransom. The plot was foiled and his corpse was reburied under 6 feet of cement.

Charlie today is remembered for his movies and his comedies. For many artists, his song Smile touched their hearts.

Chaplin's Political Statements

Chaplin's life was complex. He was more than an artist. He was a genius, an inventor and a man who fought for our freedoms - a pilgrim of peace. If humanity is to survive we must remember Charlie Chaplin for both his artistic creations but also his political statements. If we cannot remember and say out loud his political statements, I contend we belittle his talents, his genius. More importantly, if we cannot shout the praises of this man, we do both him and the freedoms our soldiers have valiantly fought for a great disservice.

Charlie should be remembered for more than just his comedy, his film distribution. Charlie must be remembered also for the tragic state of American politics. The exile of Charlie Chaplin is a historic event that is paramount to our freedoms.

Breakaway House - Chaplin's Beverly Hills, California Home

Charlie Chaplin's Home in Beverly Hills
Charlie Chaplin's Home in Beverly Hills | Source

Chaplin's Homes

Veveny Switzlerland:
Vevey, Switzerland

get directions

Beverly Hills, California, USA:
Beverly Hills, CA, USA

get directions

United Kingdom

get directions

Smile by Charlie Chaplin


Share Your Opinion

Which Version is Your Personal Favorite of the Song "Smile"

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Lyrics to Charlie Chaplin's Smile

"Smile tho' your heart is aching,
Smile even tho' it's breaking,
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by,

If you smile
thro' your fear and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow,
You'll see the sun come shin-ing thro' for you

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide ev-'ry trace of sadness,
Al -'tho a tear may be ever so near,

That's the time,
You must keep on trying,
Smile, what's the use of crying,
You'll find that life is still worth-while,

If you just smile,"

Chaplin Quotes

black and white poster of Charlie Chaplin quote "May pain be the reason for somebody's laugh but my laugh must never the reason for somebody's pain."
black and white poster of Charlie Chaplin quote "May pain be the reason for somebody's laugh but my laugh must never the reason for somebody's pain." | Source
black and white poster Charlie Chaplin quote" You can hate people only if nobody loves you."
black and white poster Charlie Chaplin quote" You can hate people only if nobody loves you." | Source
"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself." Charlie Chaplin saying stencil on a wall
"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself." Charlie Chaplin saying stencil on a wall | Source

Charlie Chaplin - This is My Song Sung by Petula Clark

Charlie Chaplin "This is My Life"

Chaplin also wrote the famous song "This is My Life" made famous by Petula Clark. Chaplin wrote This is My Life for his movie Limelight.

"This is My Song" was intended for the film, A Countess from Hong Kong , which Charlie Chaplin wrote and directed. Chaplin saw his film as a throwback to the shipboard romances which were popular in the 1930s and wrote "This Is My Song" with the intent of evoking that era: to reinforce the evocation Chaplin was determined to have Al Jolson sing the song - so determined that he only accepted the advisement that Jolson had died in 1950 when shown a photograph of Jolson's tombstone.[citation needed ] Ultimately, the song would be featured in the film only as an instrumental.

After being disillusioned in regard to Jolson, Chaplin considered having "This Is My Song" recorded by Petula Clark who had a home in Switzerland near his residence."

History details that Clark did not like the words that Chaplin had written for the song. Chaplin wanted it retro and stuck to his guns and thus we have the Petula Clark song immortalized with Chaplin's lyrics. Additionally, Petula Clark's regular music arranger, Tony Hatch refused to arrange the song. Clark's husband felt the song would be good for Petula. Finally, after the controversy, Ernie Freeman arranged the song and history was made with this song hitting number one throughout the world including Ireland, Australia, South Africa, and England. In the United States it reached #3 and #4 in Canada.

Kiera Chaplin - Charlie Chaplin's Granddaughter - Legacy

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Charlie Chaplin's Daughter and Grand Daugther Kiera ChaplinKiera Chaplin - Charlie Chaplin's Grand DaughterKiera Chaplin - Charlie Chaplin's Grand Daughter
Charlie Chaplin's Daughter and Grand Daugther Kiera Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin's Daughter and Grand Daugther Kiera Chaplin | Source
Kiera Chaplin - Charlie Chaplin's Grand Daughter
Kiera Chaplin - Charlie Chaplin's Grand Daughter | Source
Kiera Chaplin - Charlie Chaplin's Grand Daughter
Kiera Chaplin - Charlie Chaplin's Grand Daughter

Interview with Kiera Chaplin

Kiera Chaplin - Great Grand Daughter of Charlie Chaplin

Kiera Chaplin, a successful actress and model is a big supporter of ecology. In this interview, we have a glimpse into her personality and her love of fashion and her introduction to America. What is striking to me is her facial features that remind me of her grandfather.

Kiera resides in New York City and has been listed as one of the world's most desirable women and one of the richest - thanks to her grand father Charlie Chaplin. But what is often over looked is the fact that she is also the grand daugther of Eugene O'Neill's legacy and fortune. Eugene O'Neil is a famous playwright who wrote what I will call the most dismal of all plays I have ever seen - "Long Journey Into Night" which was so long that I will confess it is the only play I have ever left early. I kept waiting for it to get better and simply did not. The play has been described by critics as repetitious and filled with bitterness. The repetition is supposed to mimic the fact that day is not remarkable which is how I felt about the play.

I find it ironic that this beautiful and vibrant young woman would have two grand fathers with completely different artistic skills - one filled with bitterness and the other filled with laughter and life complete with a message to "Smile" through life's many traumas.

In a final irony, O'Neill died at age 65 (Charlie at age 88), in California (Charlie died in Switzerland in his sleep while at home) in a hotel room. O'Neill is stated to have whispered his last words: "I knew it, I knew it, born in a hotel room and god damn it died in a hotel room."

Quotes by Charlie Chaplin

Chaplin's quote says it all - "I am an agitator for peace." Chaplin cast a light upon certain anomalies of American life. The return to America was sadly blocked but Charlie was classy and did not call attention to the political confusion amidst American politics.

Even his son, stated "not having planned upon living in Europe..." and Chaplin's wife stated "oh, but it is pretty here" meaning Switzerland.

The video goes on to state that the world came to Charlie Chaplin's doorstep.

Even the children were sheltered from the controversy of not returning to America. You must hear this and hear how respectful this family is to the "unexpected exile" from United States.

I state it bluntly - "unexpected exile". Americans exiled Chaplin. We, as citizens, didn't speak up. And yet we have sent our fathers, our sons, our grand sons and daughters to combat for freedom. It is for my family that I speak up and shout for freedom. We must not allow another "political confusion" to ever occur. Democracy must be cherished and fought for on all front - battle stations and writing forums.

Charlie Chaplin and Oona Chaplin (O'Neill)

Did you know Charlie Chaplin Composed the Music to Smile

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Did you know the lyrics to Smile were written by Turner and Parsons?

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Did you know Charlie Chaplin was exiled from the United States?

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Did you know Chaplin was a knight and is now known as Sir Charlie Chaplin?

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Test Your Knowledge About Charlie Chaplin

Take our poll about the life of Charlie Chaplin.

Did you know that Charlie composed this song called "Smile"?

Did you know this song was Michael Jackson's favorite?

Did you know the lyrics were written while Charlie was exiled from the United States?

Did you know that Charlie returned to the United States to receive an Honorary Oscar?

Did you know Charlie started United Artists which continues today?

Did you know Charlie Chaplin was knighted by the Queen of England and is now known as Sir Charlie Chaplin?

Did you know a museum will be opening in Switzerland in honor of Charlie Chaplin?

Charlie's Relevancy Today?

I am biased because I did the research and learned about this great artist whom I consider one of the world's most amazing inventors. No, Charlie doesn't own any patents. He created in a realm and in a manner so distinctive that a patent would simply be a piece of paper. Charlie created laughter, he taught us to smile through our troubles. To me, he is the greatest inventor in the world and should be celebrated for teaching us to love life amidst our many traumas.

The biggest question of all is the real question, is Charlie Chaplin still relevant today? Please share your opinlon.

Is Charlie Chaplin Relevant Today?

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© 2012 Ken Kline


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    • CelebrateUSA profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Kline 

      3 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Hi Nelda,

      I liked Charlie Chaplin before but once I learned about his life, I had a whole new sense of the depth of the person. As a viewer, I had no appreciation for his craft. When a famous actor was singing the praises about the innovations that Charlie Chaplin created in this realm called acting, it was then that I started researching the man, the actor, the song writer, the innovator.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I could watch Scr'hdlenis List and still be happy after reading this.

    • CelebrateUSA profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Kline 

      4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Hi Lee,

      It was a pleasure to meet you. I am so glad that you stopped by. The more I learn about Charlie Chaplin, the greater the appreciation I have for him. Someday I wish to write about his inventions and also how he crafted the United Artists which to this day helps those in the profession of acting and directing and producing. The world of theater is foreign for me and I often bury my head in the sand but there is allot to learn and greater learning I feel will help me to grow and further appreciate this craft.

    • Lee Lee 513 profile image

      Schandee Decker 

      4 years ago from Granville, New York

      This was great, I didn't know much about him at all. I'm glad I read this.

    • CelebrateUSA profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Kline 

      5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      The life of Charlie Chaplin I believe is one of the most fascinating in the entire world. From his background to his many cultural contributions to his exile in the United States, his life is one I hope the history books keep open for the many decades to come. This information is timeless and the song he crafted is the explanation point on his life!

    • profile image

      5 years ago


    • CelebrateUSA profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken Kline 

      5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois


      Oh, you labelled it right - "McCarthy hysteria"! Charlie Chaplin I knew was admired and I never really understood why until I studied him - he is truly a superstar. As a victim he showed us that we are all susceptible to hysteria. As a leader, he reminded us the value of connecting and smiling and laughing together. I was surprised he was such a good looking man and also so talents. His whole biography was a surprise and delight to me. His life personifies why we need to know our history in order to make sure we as a human race do not make the same mistakes twice.

      Hysteria means unmanageable emotion and all too often we must sit back and look at our reactions and evaluate where and why we put our efforts. One of the reasons I enjoy HubPages is the focus and the learning tools they provide for writers. This has carried over to other areas of my life and now I look closely at what I do and IF it is evergreen. Charlie's legacy was truly to SMILE - what a great man. The history books that lack the Chaplin story should be ashamed of themselves!

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Interesting piece with info about Chaplin I never knew before. I'm sure that very few people know he wrote "Smile." It's hard to believe such a beloved star could be a victim of the McCarthy hysteria.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      Your comments are especially poignant because I know you are an artist. If your words are very wise.

      I can understand the governmental concerns and appreciate the viewpoint for safeguarding Americans - however, the greatest safeguard is to allow diversity of opinion.

      I find this statement from Ronald Regan to hold the truths that I hold dear - we allow the government. Did we the government allow the government to exile Chaplin? Or did we did hear? Did we not notice he resides in a different residence. Chaplin's words are kind, too kind and I appreciate his kindness but that is not the full truth. Re-entry was not allowed into our country. We must question, if we the "Americans" allowed it? Here is a more eloquent version of my concerns:

      "I had a copy of the Soviet Constitution and I read it with great interest. And I saw all kinds of terms in there that sound just exactly like our own: "freedom of assembly" and "freedom of speech" and so forth. Of course, they don't allow them to have those things, but they're in there in the constitution. But I began to wonder about the other constitutions - everyone has one - and our own, and why so much emphasis on ours. And then I found out, and the answer was very simple - that's why you don't notice it at first. But it is so great that it tells the entire difference. All those other constitutions are documents that say, "We, the government, allow the people the following rights," and our Constitution says "We, the People, allow the government the following privileges and rights."

      We give our permission to government to do the things that it does. And that's the whole story of the difference - why we're unique in the world and why no matter what our troubles may be, we're going to overcome." Ronald Wilson Reagan

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      6 years ago from Chicago

      Charlie Chaplin may have been the greatest artist of all time. I love his films and his music. Rarely do we see anyone with his combination of extraordinary talents all the way round.

      However, I do not think he was actually exiled. He himself said: "Since the end of the last world war, I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America's yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States."

      One reason the American government was not that crazy about him was that he sympathized with communists and even accepted a major award from the worldwide communist party. At the time it was known that Soviet agents were trying to subvert the American Way of Life from within our government and in Hollywood lesser so. Recent discoveries in Soviet files have shown these fears to actually have been vastly underestimated.

      Now I don't think Charlie was a Soviet agent. He was just a dreamer and idealist. He thought communism would make for a peaceful world. He bought the propaganda Stalin and Mao were selling. We now know they killed maybe 30 or 40 million living human beings each.

      There is always a danger in figuring that just because a man is a tremendous artist he must also be really hip to the inner workings of political systems. I find the opposite is true. Great artists are on record as saying the stupidest things imaginable about world politics. Still today you've got Sean Penn bragging on Fidel Castro but you don't see him selling his $15 million Malibu home, giving the money to the poor, and going to live in Cuba. Sometimes, people who are insanely rich, as Chaplin was, feel guilty inside and even though they hire the best tax lawyers to keep their own wealth, they seem to feel better railing about economic injustice. If Barbara Streisand really believed her own speeches she would sell everything she has, give the money to the US Treasury, and move into a hovel on the south side of Chicago.

      And there is the fact that many Americans back in those days did not appreciate Charlie's penchant for child brides. In a documentary I saw recently, his daughter Geraldine looks the camera right in the eye and says, “He loved young girls.” Commenting on his attraction to teenagers, Chaplin himself said: “I have always been in love with young girls. I like them young because they personify youth and beauty. There is something virginal in their slimness—in their slender arms and legs. And they are so feminine at that age—so wholly, girlishly young."

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I grew up knowing who Charlie Chaplin was but never knew the history. I think the time of McCarthism is overlooked in our history books and yet American freedom is central to our government and our way of life.

      Charlie Chaplin is an immortal who gave us more than laughter, he gave us insight and allowed us to laugh at ourselves.

      Oh, I wonder what he would do with the modern technology today.

    • katyzzz profile image


      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      You've chosen a wonderful topic here, and your post is both engaging and informative, well done

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      Information makes us strong, knowledge is power, preventing the mistakes of our past can only be accomplished through education and team work.

      I know the videos are long - I appreciate that. I like the videos IF you have time. I try to summarize the important points for the reader's convenience.

    • frogyfish profile image


      6 years ago from Central United States of America

      I had no idea of this information you detailed here...and I love the song 'Smile', and Petula's song too. Could not watch the two long videos now, but that chair deal video is utterly so like ourselves at times.

      It also seems the political rulers that ousted Charlie are at work today also...ruining the good of America.

      Thank you for a very informative hub!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Will Starr,

      I remember watching that and I wasn't too interested. Once I understood his life and all the different facets including United Artists I became a fan.


      Isn't it fascinating and here I simply thought he was a silent actor with a funny story from being a tramp! Charlie is a surprising genius. And his grand daughter is stunning. Amazing legacy. I cannot wait until the museum opens.

    • sofs profile image


      6 years ago

      Great read, I did not know the other facets of this genius.. thanks for sharing this hub with us. Have a great day!

    • WillStarr profile image


      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Very nice tribute, and here's a link to his Oscar moment:

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      Thank you so much for visiting. It is sad but it is an important point for us as educators to remember that history teaches us how to act and how to govern. If we don't know our history, if we forget these critical juncture in our society, we loose some important information.

      If was never a fan of Chaplin until I knew the whole story. I grew up in a time that didn't appreciate his work from the 1920s, 1930s. What is fascinating is his vision and his clarity in everything that he did.

      The United Stated made a tragic mistake that citizens of the world need to stand up and notice - it is critical to remember what we did. And while we blame McCarthism - it is the American people, my own family who is to blame. I wasn't even born when he was exiled, I am glad I didn't live during that era but today when I see something wrong, I feel a duty to speak up - speak up respectfully.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Kelly - this is a beautiful, moving tribute to a great artist and a great man - Charlie Chaplin. It's sad that he was turned away from a country that he so enriched - with his acting, his music, and his genuine talent. No one every made a funnier silent film than Charlie. Thank you for your research and this beautifully wrtten hub. Voted up.


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