top of page
  • Writer's pictureEllen Cheshire

#OTD 1975 Charlie Chaplin was knighted

Updated: May 5, 2023

On the 4 March 1975, a frail 85 year old Charlie Chaplin, became Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin when he was knighted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace, pictured here with his wife Oona.

Although geographically less than two miles from, Kennington, where he was born in 1889, it might as well have been a million miles from his early years of poverty, in and out of the workhouse (now The Cinema Museum).

He made his professional stage debut aged 10 in the clog-dancing act Eight Lancashire Lads, and by 19 he was employed in the leading touring comedy sketch company of the day, the Fred Karno Troupe. It was with them that he went to America, and was spotted by Mack Sennett who in 1914 gave him a one year film contract.

And the rest as they say would be history! In just over year he was the most famous movie star in the world, commanding the highest salary!

When he moved to Hollywood in 1914, it would be the last time he lived in the UK, but despite living in the US from 1914 -1952, and Switzerland from 1952 to his death in 1977 he never gave up his British Citizenship.

After the groundbreaking The Great Dictator (1940), his first talkie, in which his delivers one of the most powerful and poignant speeches in screen history his career went somewhat quieter.

But the 1970s saw a revival in interest in Chaplin. In 1972, Chaplin was awarded an Honorary Oscar. This was his first trip back to the US, after his exile in 1952 when the United States Attorney General revoked Chaplin's re-entry permit on political grounds. 1974 saw the publication of his autobiography, My Autobiography and in 1975 he received his Knighthood.

I was interviewed by Times Radio on 4 March 2022 for their #OTD feature his knighthood, this is not available to hear now, but you can hear Bridget Kendall, Donna Kornhaber, Paul Duncan* and me discussing Chaplin for BBC World Service's The Forum.

*Paul Duncan edited Taschen's The Charlie Chaplin Archives, for which I researched and wrote three chapters covering his childhood, stage career and first few years in Hollywood.


bottom of page